The theme of this edition is predictably about “communication”. For a change I was fortunate enough to receive a hard copy (print) version. Nonetheless, it is more accessible to the masses electronically via the WCO website. The Secretary General discusses the role of ‘communication’ in the dissemination of critical information whether it be via internet portals, social media and the evolving myriad of technology based trade facilitation tools. In this particular regard, the number of emerging countries registering their participation through customs-specific trade information portals and the adoption of electronic Single Window platforms is becoming common place.
The playing fields between the developed and under-developed world are beginning to be leveled so to speak. Harmonisation and standardization via computer systems is beginning to mature to an extent un-thought of just a few years back. While mainstream declaration processing engines will still be required to ‘crunch’ the vast volumes of customs transactional information, it is the era of ‘Apps’ which will prove to offer niche service offerings to the business community. For instance, many vendors offer HS tariff search and duty calculators. Some Customs and Border Administrations provide traders with transaction status notifications and other advice via SMS. Above all this, the Secretary General still emphasizes the importance of the human element — to make sure that communication remains a two-way process which fosters cooperation.
Featured articles include an overview of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation. There are also several articles concerning communication strategy, business recovery and the role of Customs Brokers in the improvement of communication and cooperation. Read also about Single Window developments and a glimpse into the future of border technologies. Source: WCO