WCO chief seeks stronger ties with e-commerce sector to curb illicit trade

WCO chief seeks stronger ties with e-commerce sector to curb illicit trade

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Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, Mr. Jurgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General, and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director General. Photo from WCO.
  • World Customs Organization head Kunio Mikuriya calls for urgent enhanced cooperation with e-commerce players to fight growth in illicit trade due to the pandemic
  • Mikuriya says reliance on low-quality data has potential risk and urges setting up public-private partnerships in the sector for the purpose of sharing data
  • Obtaining access to good-quality data is essential to risk management in a paperless trade environment, he says

Customs administrations urgently need to enhance cooperation with e-commerce operators and platforms to combat illicit trade on the internet, instead of relying on low-quality data, World Customs Organization Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya told a security meeting in Germany.

Mikuriya, speaking at the Munich Security Conferences held February 18 to 20, highlighted the potential danger of reliance on low-quality data while controlling high volumes of shipments from e-commerce that have grown during the coronavirus pandemic.

WCO-coordinated enforcement operations showed that e-commerce has become one of the major conduits for illicit trade, he said. Therefore, it is essential to obtain access to good-quality data for risk management using digital technology in a paperless trade environment, Mikuriya said.

The MSC has become an annual major security forum since its founding in 1963. It was attended this year by more than 100 ministers and over 30 heads of state and government, as well as leaders of international organizations.

The topic on illicit trade was discussed during the session on fighting kleptocracy and corruption.

Mikuriya said there is also an urgent need for Customs to develop public-private partnerships with e-commerce actors for data-sharing. He said those partnerships should be similar to the traditional containerized trade where established data flows from the trade community to Customs for the purpose of sharing data.

He said these public-private partnerships will be in addition to the ongoing cooperation with other law enforcement agencies to identify high-risk packages.

Mikuriya had a number of discussions with ministers and political leaders as well as heads of international organizations at the margins of the conference.

In a bilateral meeting with Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organization, he discussed the progress in the area of multilateral trade negotiations as well as possible cooperation on e-commerce and trade transparency.

Mikuriya also met with Secretary General Majlinda Bregu of the Regional Cooperation Council and explored how WCO could contribute to regional integration in South-East Europe, particularly in the Western Balkans.

During a bilateral meeting with Jurgen Stock, head of the Interpol, Mikuriya raised the topics of leadership, management and enhanced cooperation as the globe is slowly recovering from the pandemic.

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