The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has pointed out that the world is now facing fresh challenges which include a slow-down in globalization and increasing uncertainty due to trade tensions, as well as evolving threats posed by climate change and environmental pollution.
Director General of WCO, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya stated this at the 13th Meeting of Customs Directors-General and Commissioners from Europe and Asian Members of the Asia-Europe Meeting (2019 ASEM) held in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam last week.
While taking into account the results of the 2018 ASEM Summit that had stressed the importance of connectivity between the two continents, the Meeting adopted a new Action Plan 2020-2021, based on a review of the outcomes of the current Action Plan 2018-19. The Plan covers seven areas: transit, transhipment, disruptive technologies, single window, hazardous waste, e-commerce (safety and security areas) and visibility of ASEM.
The WCO Secretary General welcomed the new Action Plan, which displays a great deal of synergy with the WCO priorities defined in its Strategic Plan and praised successful operations by Vietnam Customs to curb the illegal importation of containers filled with hazardous waste, despite pressure from the trading community.
Dr. Mikuriya specifically offered the WCO’s support and coordination in the area of controlling transboundary movements of waste, referring to the changing trade environment in which Customs administrations were operating compared to the situation two years ago, when the last ASEM Customs DGs meeting was held in Berlin.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Do Hoang Anh Tuan, Vice-Minister of Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance, acknowledged the important role played by the Customs community in strengthening collaboration between Asia and Europe, thus contributing to enhanced economic growth as well as providing effective measures to cope with the emerging challenges posed by the rise in e-commerce, security and environmental issues.
The 13th ASEM Directors-General (DGs) Meeting served as a forum for high-level delegates from 53 Customs administrations who met and shared best practices on Customs management activities, as well as addressing emerging challenges facing the Asian and European Customs community. Together, they discussed and put forward the 2020-2021 ASEM Customs Action Plan to further enhance Customs cooperation, aimed at facilitating legitimate trade, protecting society and the environment from illicit trade posing security, safety and health threats, and improving the visibility of and communication by ASEM Members.