News & Events

February 27, 2023

WCO MENA Heads of Customs regional meeting

The WCO MENA Heads of Customs Regional Meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Jalal Al-Qudah, the Director General of Jordan Customs in his capacity as the Vice-Chair for the MENA region, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), participated in the MENA regional meeting of Customs Directors General, held in Cairo on 27 February 2023.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Mikuriya spoke about the theme of the year and the ongoing work of the WCO regarding the important focus areas such as data, fragile borders and green Customs. He provided an update on the finances of the WCO, including the use of additional languages. The meeting discussed the follow-up to the Policy Commission’s deliberations in December 2022 and also heard the progress report by the regional entities, including the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs).
The Directors General further discussed the issue of priorities and agreed to continue seconding a regional technical attaché at the WCO to further enhance cooperation and increase the effectiveness of the support provided to the region.


The signing of the headquarters agreement for the Capacity Building Office.

The United Arab Emirates, the host country of the Regional Office for Capacity Building for the North Africa, Near and Middle East region, signed the headquarters agreement for the office with the World Customs Organization (WCO) on the sidelines of the sessions of the WCO Council in Brussels.

The UAE’s hosting of the Regional Office for Capacity Building, affiliated with the World Customs Organization, enhances the UAE’s leading position in the global customs system. The UAE has been hosting the regional office for capacity building for North Africa, the Near and Middle East since 2006. The office supports the organization and customs in the region to meet customs development requirements by leveraging standards and experiences derived from the World Customs Organization.

The agreement outlines the tasks performed by the host country, the United Arab Emirates, for the Regional Office for Capacity Building for North Africa, the Near and Middle East, granting the office a headquarters in the country and providing supporting services. The office seeks to achieve a set of strategic goals contributing to the development of customs work, enhancing competitiveness, and building capabilities in the field of inspection and customs control in the region. This includes administrative support and coordination of related activities among the regional countries.

Based on the decision of the customs directors general in the region and their support for the regional capacity-building strategy, the Regional Office for Capacity Building was established in the UAE. The office aims to strengthen customs relations between the UAE and its strategic partners in the region and the world, building customs capacities by identifying the specific needs of regional countries in customs work. Additionally, the office oversees the implementation of customs activities and projects based on international best practices, monitors changes, ensures compliance with global customs standards, coordinates with training centers in the region accredited by the organization, and collaborates with supporting entities for projects.


Photo Competition 2023 (winner)

On all fronts The Algeria Customs Service operates over an area of 2,381,741 km², covering the entire national territory. It has a huge sea and land border, with its own particular topography that sometimes presents extremely challenging conditions. Algerian Customs officers have to adapt to the changing landscapes and climatic conditions and are present everywhere to carry out their missions with fortitude and dedication, day and night, protecting their country in close cooperation with the relevant institutions.

February 20, 2023

Disruptive Technology in the MENA Region: Insights from the WCO Regional Online Experience-Sharing Workshop

The WCO Online Regional Experience-Sharing Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) Region was held from 20 to 22 February 2023. The workshop was organized with the financial support of the Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) of China.  This was the fifth and final in the series of regional workshops on disruptive technologies, where the first one was successfully carried out in March 2021 in the Asia-Pacific region and followed by three more workshops in the other four WCO regions. In addition to discussing the relevance of the WCO Data Model and other international standards of importance to the cross-border movement of goods; the workshop also aims at responding to a growing need from WCO Members to learn about various advanced technologies and how they can be mobilized in Customs operations.
The Workshop, which brought together over 30 participants from the MENA region, partner international organizations and the private sector was opened by Pranab Kumar Das, Director, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate and Nidal Salameh, Manager of the Vice-Chair Office for the MENA Region. In his address, the Director stressed that the response to COVID-19 has prompted contactless procedures and thus sped up the adoption of digital technology by several years. It is for this reason, he remarked, the WCO regional workshops on disruptive technologies are extremely pertinent today in terms of ensuring that progress continues and further raising awareness of the possibilities that these solutions could provide towards facilitating and better controlling the cross-border movement of goods.
Speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chair for the MENA region, Nidal Salameh appreciated the opportunity provided by the workshop and encouraged participants to share their expertise on disruptive technologies.
The 3-day experience-sharing workshop benefited from presentations and discussions on three technologies, namely Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things that have already shown so much potential for the future of Customs and border management. A dedicated session put special focus on the importance of international standards for efficient deployment of advanced technology in Customs operations.


Awareness-raising seminar for customs officers was successfully held

The representative of the Regional Office for Capacity Building for the World Customs Organization Europe Region Haji Hajiyev, who presented information about the activities of the represented organization at the opening ceremony, also spoke about the importance of the seminar and expressed confidence that the event will play an important role in increasing the knowledge and awareness of customs officers in this field.

Then the Head of the Medical Service Department of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Mammadov informed about illicit drug and psychotropic substances trafficking and problems they cause in the society, and underlined the importance of conducting educational work in this field.

Head of the Academy of the State Customs Committee Gulu Novruzov talked about measures taken by customs bodies in the fight against this global scourge, underlining that the university he heads also intends to contribute to raising awareness.

The seminar continued with presentations on “Drugs and psychotropic substances: a global challenge for today’s world”, “Problems caused by psychotropic drugs in the modern era”, “Counterfeit medicines and the fight against their distribution”.

Then there was an exchange of views around the presentations, and the participants’ questions were answered in detail.

January 12, 2023

Workshop on Customs Valuation for Jordan Customs

The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Adel HABSA from Algerian Customs and Mr. Abdulkarim ALMAWASH from Saudi Customs, WCO pre accredited expert trainers in Customs valuation, and an expert from the Secretariat. Nineteen Customs officers holding senior and middle management positions and working at different Customs Offices participated in the workshop.

The objective of this workshop is to enable participants to deepen their knowledge of the Customs Valuation Agreement, including its implementation. During five days, several technical topics concerning customs valuation were discussed, including the principles of transaction value, adjustments, alternative valuation methods, introduction to transfer pricing, overview of the Revenue Package, advance rulings, selected instruments adopted by the Technical Committee on Customs Valuation and post clearance control in customs valuation.

Participants also had the opportunity to present and discuss practical cases in order to deepen their understanding of the Customs Valuation Agreement and to apply the knowledge gained during the workshop on a daily basis.

In her closing remarks Ms. Manal Nussair, the Head of the RTC, thanked the participants and the facilitators and wished to hold more training sessions in the RTC with the support of the WCO.

July 6, 2023

People Management and Development diagnostic mission to Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA)

In 2021, the ZATCA underwent a huge transformation by merging into one entity, two big organization in the kingdom, namely the Saudi Customs Authority and the General Authority of Zakat and Tax, which has profoundly impacted the whole HCM system. This mission aimed at assessing the current HCM structure, practices, policies and needs of ZATCA, benchmarking with the WCO standards and international best practices, and identifying recommendations to strengthen the ongoing HCM transformation.

The diagnostic mission was facilitated by gathering documents, tools, and information from the ZATCA HCM deputyship prior to the mission through the WCO People Development Diagnostic tool (PDDT). This first step was followed by on-site discussions with senior management, middle management and field officers in Customs, zakat, tax and support departments. The WCO team greatly appreciated the relevance of the existing modern HCM structure, documents and tools, and the well-developed HCM system. Based on the detailed discussions and analysis, the WCO diagnostic team recommended a set of measures that ZATCA could potentially undertake to further enhance the HCM practices and become an organization with a world-class HCM system.

The ZATCA expressed appreciation for the successful and constructive mission and welcomed and committed to the action plan for future implementation. The WCO looks forward to continuing its collaboration with ZATCA to design and implement a modern HCM system.

November 1, 2023

Saudi Arabia showcases its development at ZAKAT Tax and Customs Conference 2023

At the high-level panel session titled “An Investment-Friendly Logistics Environment (Transparency and Efficiency)”, Dr. Mikuriya spoke about international standards, including WCO instruments and programmes, technology and human capital, as ways to enhance connectivity at borders. In addition, he stressed the importance of developing trust and cooperation between domestic and international stakeholders, such as in Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes. He went on to say that, sharing data with tax and other government agencies would improve economic competitiveness by facilitating and securing supply chains and thereby improving investment climate.

Other panelists, including the Minister of Transport of Saudi Arabia and the CEO of a shipping company, shared the vision of transforming Saudi Arabia into a regional and global logistic hub.

Secretary General Mikuriya also took the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Faisal F. Al-Ibrahim, Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning, about ways to strengthen the Gulf Cooperation Council Customs Union.  WCO Secretary General visited, together with ZAKAT Governor Abanmi and the WCO Council Chairperson, Ahmed Al-Khalifa, President of Bahrain Customs, the WCO Regional Training Centre and the Regional Dog Training Centre, hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh and explored their contributions to regional capacity building activities.

Dr. Mikuriya welcomed the efforts by Saudi Arabia to share good practices on Customs-Tax cooperation, AEO and other Customs related matters during the conference.

March 2, 2023

Tunisian Customs: preparing the next generation to promote integrity

With the support of experts from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and drawing on CBSA’s own NGN, some twenty Tunisian executives worked on an action plan for 2023, aiming at creating the winning conditions for an efficient NGN. Particular attention was paid to the commitment of its members, management’s support and the respect of a balanced approach based on diversity.

During the workshop, representatives of CBSA’s NGN were able to present their best practices and some points of vigilance in order to provide Tunisian Customs with the necessary tools to prepare a new generation of officers and decision-makers within Tunisian Customs. The results of the Customs Integrity Perception Survey (CIPS) conducted in Tunisia in 2021 were also presented and discussed, particularly those related to Human Resources Management and Organisational Culture, to raise awareness among the members of the Tunisian Customs’ NGN.

The WCO A-CIP Programme currently supports over 20 WCO Member administrations, with funding from Norad and Canada.

July 13, 2023

MENA regional meeting discussed the regional needs

In his opening remarks, Dr. Mikuriya spoke about the theme of the year and the WCO data strategy, identified by Members as one of the focus areas for the coming years. Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, Deputy Secretary General of the WCO, presented the draft Strategic Plan 2022-2025. The meeting also heard the progress report by the regional entities, including the Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCBs) and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs).

The Directors General further discussed the issue of regional communication and the arrangements for the technical attaché.

November 2, 2023

Fourth regional consultation on the Strategic Plan with the MENA region

In his introductory remarks, the Vice-Chair for the MENA region stressed the benefit of working collaboratively to overcome current and future challenges for the Organization. He added that this would require enhanced partnership, based on proper prioritization of activities. The WCO Deputy Secretary General agreed that a collaborative approach was key to defining an adequate strategy for the coming years and stated that the regional consultations offered the right platform to exchange views and ideas in this context. The Council Chairperson, Mr. Ahmed Al Khalifa, also delivered some opening remarks, in which he pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated changes in the trade environment. The current situation meant that a sound foundation should be built for a strong Strategic Plan. He called for the region to be active in this process, as the future priorities for the WCO would be defined from the outcomes of the regional consultations.

Addressing the future areas of action to be considered, participants shared the view that the WCO should focus on ensuring its continued sustainability in order to be able to maintain its influence and deliver valuable initiatives for Members. They expressed the opinion that the core priority for the future was to reflect on securing alternative sources of funding to enhance the WCO’s stability and a certain degree of latitude in the projects it conducted. On this basis, the focus of the Organization should be on matters aimed at equipping Customs for modern realities. They mentioned, in particular, the development of IT solutions promoting and harmonizing the exchange of data between Customs, and the extensive use of data analytics for proper decision-making. Capacity-building support should also be adapted to this context, providing the right training to better respond to new and emerging trends.

These consultations will define the new WCO Strategic Plan, following the same approach as for the previous strategy and Environmental Scan. Full involvement by Members has already proven invaluable when drafting these documents, ensuring that the entire Organization shares a single vision and is moving towards achieving the same objectives.


November 1, 2023

The MENA region prepares for implementation of the HS 2022

Some 30 high-ranking officials specializing in tariff classification-related areas attended the workshop which was co-facilitated by a Senior Technical Officer from the WCO Secretariat and by an accredited expert from the MENA region.

The workshop’s main focus was to secure uniformity in the interpretation and application of the HS 2022 Nomenclature by the Customs administrations of the MENA region. Comprehensive explanations regarding the scope of the HS 2022 amendments were presented, along with the background of their development. Furthermore, the workshop offered an opportunity to discuss the WCO tools and instruments developed to assist users of the HS in modernizing their tariff classification work and related infrastructure.

The workshop gave the participants an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the HS 2022 amendments by their respective administrations. Some administrations presented examples of the transposition into their national nomenclature of particular amendments featured in the Council Recommendation of 28 June 2019.

The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for networking and exchanging views on a wide range of topics in tariff classification and management of tariff and statistical nomenclatures, and was highly appreciated by those who attended.

At the closing session, Mr. Konstantinos Kaiopoulos, WCO Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, thanked all the participants for their active contributions and for the high level of professionalism and dedication which contributed to the workshop’s success. He also noted the WCO’s unwavering support for any capacity-building activity and any initiative introduced for enhancing and developing the proper application of the HS in the MENA region.

For his part, Mr. Naïf El Chambre, Director of the Saudi Customs Training Institute, commended the participants, organizers and WCO experts for the workshop’s success. He underlined the importance of this workshop to the synchronized and coordinated implementation of the HS 2022 amendments by the region’s Customs administrations and thanked the WCO for its efforts in this regard.

November 15, 2023

WCO supports the Saudi Customs Authority (ZATCA) in implementing the 2022 version of the Harmonized System

Some 20 officials specializing in areas relating to the tariff classification of goods, representing several departments of the Saudi Customs Authority, took part in the workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to present to the participants the amendments that have been introduced into the new 2022 edition of the HS and to discuss various topics connected with the HS. The participants were also informed about some of the practical aspects of transposing the HS into national tariffs, in order to ensure that it was properly applied in a uniform manner.

The workshop was opened by Mr. Zaid El Adlak, the Director of the Customs Training Directorate at the ZATCA Training Academy, who thanked the WCO for its commitment to supporting its Members and encouraged the participants to take the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the HS 2022 amendments and share internally within their authority experiences and information of interest about the tariff classification of goods and the transposition of a new version of the HS.

There was an opportunity for the pre‑accredited trainers to give a practical demonstration of their skills and knowledge as expert trainers on the Harmonized System.

During the workshop, several cases of tariff classification were analysed in a variety of areas, such as food supplements, wood products, textiles and machinery, including high-tech machinery.

The participants presented the organizational structure and the various stages and functions involved in the work of tariff classification of goods. In addition, they highlighted the work of coordination that went on among the various departments and units of the Saudi Customs Authority in order to ensure that the HS was properly applied.

The participants were also informed about the new provisions and draft amendments to the HS for the next 2027 version.

Mr. Abdulaziz Bawazir, the Director General of the ZATCA Training Academy, brought the workshop to a close. He again thanked the WCO for its unfailing support to its Members and for its assistance and capacity building activities for Customs officials, in particular in the area of the tariff classification of goods. He emphasized that, along the lines of its actions, the Academy, following in the footsteps of the WCO, supported all capacity building activities for ZATCA officials.

September 15, 2023

WCO supports the development of a scored assessment system to improve Customs performance in Saudi Arabia

From 10 to 13 September 2023, the WCO delivered a workshop on performance measurement in the Customs environment to the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority of Saudi Arabia (ZATCA).


The General Manager of the ZATCA Academy opened the workshop, underlining the importance of the strategic partnership between ZATCA and the WCO and the timely organization of the workshop, given the recent approval of the first version of the WCO Performance Measurement Mechanism (PMM).


The high level of interaction and immersive participation by ZATCA officials reflects the Authority’s commitment to enhancing the maturity level of the national performance measurement system and implementing an evidence-based assessment system that meets the need to measure the outcomes and impact of Customs activities and operations on the trade environment, in line with the approach taken by the WCO when developing the WCO PMM.


The workshop participants underlined the importance of international benchmarking in performance measurement to enable peer learning and evidence-based decision-making, thereby maintaining Customs effectiveness and governance. They recognized the importance of data in shaping the priorities for achieving sustainable development as part of the current reform process in Saudi Arabia under the umbrella of “Saudi Vision 2030”.


The discussions linked the lessons learned to specific expected outcomes and indicators to be considered during future review cycles of the national performance measurement system.


The General Manager of the ZATCA Academy welcomed the outcomes of the workshop discussions and the high level of interaction and stressed the importance of building up a pool of experts to enable peer learning and strengthen the capacities of WCO Members in performance measurement and evaluation.



September 13, 2023

Egypt Customs takes steps to strengthen its Rules of Origin competency

Under the framework of the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme, funded by the European Union, the World Customs Organization (WCO), in partnership with the Egyptian Customs Authority, held a national training workshop on rules of origin for Egypt Customs. The workshop was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 3 to 7 September 2023 and brought together Customs officers, participants from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOIEC) as well as the private sector with the objective to assist Egypt in enhancing its knowledge and application of preferential rules of origin.


In his opening remarks, Mr. El-Shahaat GHATWARY, Commissioner of the Egyptian Customs Authority, thanked the WCO and the EU for their vital role and consistent support in building capacity on rules of origin and highlighted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement will enhance economic integration through the opening of new horizons for trade. Rules of origin are a top priority in terms of trade facilitation and market access within the African continent.


During the workshop participants worked on key concepts for proper origin determination, related operational and procedural issues, including origin certification and origin irregularities, as well as the establishment of efficient origin management. In addition, participants discussed specific areas of concern, including the low level of knowledge and use of the FTAs and challenges linked to verification of origin including trough administrative cooperation. They also discussed recommendations for better management and implementation of rules of origin on a national and regional level.


Participants greatly appreciated the opportunity given by the workshop to exchange knowledge and experiences among different stakeholders and stressed that this broad approach is highly beneficial for enhanced cooperation and coordination on a national level.


The EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme will continue its work with Egypt Customs to equip Customs officials and relevant stakeholders with extended knowledge for efficient implementation and application of rules of origin.

June 24, 2023

WCO Council elects Ian Saunders as new Secretary General

On Saturday 24 June, Customs Directors General representing the 185 Members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) elected Ian Saunders as the Organization’s new Secretary General for a five-year term as of 1st January 2024. The WCO Secretary General is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of the WCO Secretariat. The election, which saw two candidates vying for this top position, took place during the annual Council Sessions in Brussels from 22 to 24 June 2023.


Mr. Saunders, nominated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, assured the Organization’s Members of his commitment to driving Customs towards a safe, prosperous and inclusive future. He said, “While respecting the WCO’s rich past, there is a need to innovate and adapt to modern challenges. I intend to lead the Organization by forging strong and enduring public-private partnerships, leveraging technology, promoting inclusivity for effective global Customs cooperation, and ensuring transparency and openness as fundamental principles of good governance.”


Incumbent Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, whose term of office expires at the end of December 2023, welcomed Mr. Saunders’ appointment“ and said, “I congratulate the winner on his election and I wish him well when he assumes his duties”. Dr. Mikuriya added, “The WCO has withstood the test of time, and despite changes in global trade and the recent pandemic we have stayed relevant and proactive, and have accompanied our Members with clear and precise standards promoting certainty, predictability and security of the global supply chain. However, many challenges remain ahead of us and I am confident that my successor, with the support of the WCO’s membership and the staff of the Secretariat, will rise to the occasion and steer the Organization in the right direction for the next five years.”


Ian Saunders is a proven and principled leader with more than 20 years of Customs experience and 30 years’ experience in international relations. As a member of the U.S. Government Senior Executive Service since 2008, Mr. Saunders has a record of addressing complex challenges and elevating organizations to excellence. He has served the public and the international community in diverse and challenging roles focused on various facets of trade such as: Customs, commercial policy, travel, and infrastructure. Collaborative in style, considered in communication and accomplished in delivery, Mr. Saunders has led the implementation of programs, the formulation of policies and the forging of partnerships that have advanced facilitation and security in trade worldwide.

(07-07) - 11 - 2023

Regional DG meeting with DSG Ricardo Trevino

At the request of Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Trevino, a virtual meeting of all customs administrations of the countries of the region at the level of directors general will be held on November 7, 2023 between 9:30 and 12:30 Brussels time to discuss the modernization plan of the organization.

(06-16) - 11 - 2023
Doha and Qatar, Events

WCO STCE Arabic Train-the-Trainer event in Doha

The WCO is organizing a regional Train the Trainer Workshop on the Strategic Trade Control Enforcement (STCE) programme for the benefit of the North African, Near- and Middle East (MENA) Region, scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar, from 6 to 16 November 2023.

The objective of the Workshop is to build capacity among Customs administrations in the MENA region to effectively address the scourge of proliferation of WMDs. The Workshop will be the first stage through which candidates from within the region can gain accreditation as an Arabic language STCE expert trainer.

(22-24) - 06 - 2023
Belgium, Events

The 141st/142nd Sessions of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Council

The 141st/142nd Sessions of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Council, the highest decision-making body of the Organization, were held at WCO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium from 22 to 24 June 2023. The Sessions saw the participation of Directors General of Customs representing the WCO’s 185 Members.


Under the guidance of Mr. A. Al Khalifa, Director General of Bahrain Customs and outgoing Chairperson of the WCO Council, the 2023 Council Sessions reviewed the work carried out by the WCO throughout the year. The discussions covered international standards, guidance documents and recommended practices developed by the different WCO working bodies with a view to enhancing the management of cross-border trade.


The Council focused its deliberations on various areas of Customs work, including Capacity Building, Rules of Origin, Valuation, Nomenclature and Classification, Compliance, and Trade Facilitation, as well as on budgetary and financial matters.


The Council took note of the progress made in implementing the Strategic Plan 2022-2025, particularly in the key focus areas of Technology and Innovation, Green Customs and Governance and Accountability.


Regarding Technology and Innovation, the Council acknowledged the efforts of the Data and Statistics Working Group in implementing the WCO Data Strategy, and took note of the establishment of a Data Scholarship for capacity building.


Recognizing the urgent need for Customs to address environmental concerns, the Council endorsed the Green Customs Action Plan. Additionally, the Council adopted three Harmonized System (HS) recommendations aimed at improving the monitoring of the movement of waste oils, certain substances controlled under the Rotterdam Convention, and substances controlled under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.


Delegates expressed their support for the newly developed WCO Action Plan on Fragile Borders and Conflict-Affected Situations, emphasizing the importance of Customs adapting to such contexts.


In the area of Governance and Accountability, the Council took note of the progress made in developing a WCO Modernization Plan and endorsed the WCO Secretariat Equality and Diversity Work Plan.


The Council endorsed the Implementation Plan 2023-2024, along with the activities planned for the next financial year, and supported the budgetary recommendations of the Finance Committee. These decisions enable the Secretariat to continue its work in supporting its Members.


During the sessions, the Directors General of Customs elected Mr. Ian Saunders from the United States as the new WCO Secretary General for a five-year term as of 1 January 2024. They also elected Mr. Edward Kieswetter, Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, as the Chairperson of the WCO Council. Furthermore, new regional Vice-Chairs were appointed.


Regarding accessions to WCO instruments, the Council witnessed the Gambia depositing its instrument of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention – RKC), thus becoming the 134th Contracting Party to the Convention.


The Council delegates also witnessed the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), including:


MoU on the formalization of the establishment of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) in the United Arab Emirates.

MoU on the recognition of Regional Dog Training Centres in Australia, Hong Kong (China), and Indonesia.

MoU on the recognition of the Regional Customs Laboratory’s Professionals Programme in India.

On a lighter note, the Customs Administration of Algeria won the annual WCO Photo Competition. The winning photo showcases how Customs officers adapt to the changing landscapes and climatic conditions while carrying out their missions to protect borders in cooperation with other border agencies.



(15-15) - 09 - 2023

WCO Network for Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs holds its annual online conference

On 13 September, the Network for Gender Equality and Diversity (GED) in Customs of the World Customs Organization (WCO) held its third online global conference, bringing together the Customs community to exchange views and practices on how GED can be further advanced in Customs administrations through initiatives focusing on staff engagement (people) and gender equality and diversity assessments (processes).


The WCO has been promoting the gender equality agenda since 2013, since the launch of the the Women in Customs, Trade and Leadership conference. Over the years, the WCO has developed a number of tools and initiatives, and also expanded the scope of its work to include broader diversity and inclusion issues. Following the increasing interest from WCO Members to further promote GED in Customs, the Network was formally launched on 8 March 2022 during the celebration of the International Women’s Day.


This year’s conference, which was organized in a blended format, brought together more than 150 participants.


In his welcoming address, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, highlighted the importance of GED for WCO Members and underscored various regional initiatives aiming at advancing women’s role in Customs. He emphasized the importance of the WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) in assisting Members to identity GED gaps and invited Members to use it.


The Conference also witnessed the keynote speech of the Ms. Velma Ricketts Walker, Commissioner of Customs of Jamaica Customs Authority (JCA). She highlighted some of the initiatives put in place by JCA to promote GED, including the Administration’s Strategy on GED, a policy to prevent sexual harassment and a policy to prevent gender based violence. The Commissioner also spoke about various initiatives aiming at raising awareness among staff on this topic, for instance through trained GED focal points.


The second keynote speaker, Ms. Carol West, Secretary of International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations (IFCBA), President and CEO of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB), Member and Former Chair of the Private Sector Consultative Group, stressed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender equality, including women’s participation in the labour market, the gender pay gap and issues with work-life balance. She underscored the importance of recalling  the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, which demonstrated more than ever the need for harmonized procedures and tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between the public and private sector to overcome the negative impacts caused by the pandemic.

Organized in two successive panels, seven high-level speakers, from Botswana, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Africa, were then invited to exchange their views on the two topics on the agenda, after which participants asked questions to the panelists.

Based on various WCO Members’ testimonies in the first panel, it was noted that implementing staff engagement initiatives contribute to a more inclusive and open working culture within organizations embracing diversity. Listening to and proactively involving the staff in driving change has a positive impact on the success in the adoption of GED values by Customs administrations.

From the various interventions in the second panel, it was made clear that conducting assessments, using either the WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) or other national methods or tools, helps not only to identify GED gaps – which allows Administrations to  better design policies to meet these, but also to regularly monitor progress in the realization of GED goals over time.

While the Network meets on annual basis, the WCO is working with its Members on continuous basis to proceed with this topic, in particular within its various capacity building programmes and also through its Virtual Working Group on GED. The WCO looks forward to receiving more feedback from Members on how they work towards advancing the GED agenda and encourage participants to take part in WCO global knowledge sharing activities in this important field.