Article first appeared on www.wcoomd.org.
At the invitation of the “Cercle Collin de Sussy”, World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya addressed the issue of Customs and goods’ traceability at the Symposium on “Traçabilité et conformité douanière des flux internationaux” (Traceability and Customs compliance of international trade flows), held at the Ministry of Finance in Paris, France, on 4 November 2016.
The “Cercle Collin de Sussy” was established in 1990 by several former officials from the Directorate General of French Customs on the initiative of John Paul Bouquin, its founder President. It is named after the name of the first Director General of French Customs, who held office from 1801 to 1812. It acts as a think tank, aiming at feeding a critical reflexion on the challenges faced by Customs in a more and more globalized trade environment, analysing facts and legislations.
After the Symposium opening speeches by Mr. Marc Tertrais, President of the “Cercle Collin de Sussy”, and Ms. Helene Crocquevieille, Director General of French Customs, Dr. Mikuriya explained that Customs has been collecting information on movements of goods at borders ensuring their traceability, thereby developing connectivity among trade operators.
Secretary General Mikuriya mentioned recent developments in three areas of: (1) pre-arrival information which is now available and has moved borders upstream; (2) enabling tracking and tracing technology used by Customs; and (3) traceability systems developed by the private sector and their potential compatibility with Customs systems.
Dr. Mikuriya then spoke about the challenges faced by Customs in their coordination efforts with other public stakeholders, both domestically through the Single Window supported by the WCO Data Model and internationally, through potential facilitation by the Unique Consignment Reference for identifying consignments. Another challenge is maximizing the value of data use through data mining by Customs officials, as well as an open data policy that could grant the private sector and academia access to data, while respecting confidentiality. These challenges could provide opportunities for both Customs and the private sector in the future.
The participants, mainly coming from French business and law firms, appreciated the WCO’s insights, which were reflected in their subsequent panel discussions.