Over 230 delegates representing WCO Members, the academic world, international organizations, the private sector, donor organizations and other interested parties attended the 7th WCO Conference on the Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD) hosted by the University of Cadi Ayyad in partnership with Morocco Customs and the WCO in Marrakesh, Morocco from 25-27 September 2012.
The Conference was co-chaired by Prof. Michael Wolffgang, University of Münster, and Prof. M’barek Benchanaa and Prof. Abdullah Ait Ouahman from the University of Cadi Ayyad. The Conference focused on three main topics: The Impact of Regional Economic Integration and Preferential Trade Arrangements on Customs Services; Emerging and Evolving Risks; and Customs Strategic Human Resource Management.
The WCO PICARD Programme was officially launched in 2006 to strengthen co-operation between the WCO, universities, and Customs human resources entities such as Customs Academies. The programme’s objective is to provide a platform where stakeholders can co-operate, collaborate, and contribute to two main pillars: (1) Customs professionalism and (2) Customs-related research.
Key PICARD achievements include adopting the PICARD Professional Standards for operational and strategic Customs managers; holding six successful PICARD Conferences; and publishing many Customs-related research papers in the World Customs Journal. Moreover, a growing number of universities have obtained WCO recognition of their Customs-related academic curriculums.
The PICARD Conference has become an annual meeting place for Customs officers, Customs human resource professionals, and academics to network and exchange ideas on Customs professionalism and Customs-related research. It is an opportunity for Customs academies and the WCO Regional Training Centres to glean new ideas on human resource development. At each conference, research papers are presented; this year, papers will be presented on regional economic integration, emerging and evolving risks, and human resource management.
The dearth in Customs expertise has become an international phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception. Locally based training organisation, GMLS, has been working with the University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban and UCT in Cape Town and in Durban specifically it is expected after council of Higher education approval next year that we will be offering a full masters Degree in Customs for the first time in South Africa as a MCom Customs and Excise, says GMLS CEO Mark Goodger. GMLS is a WCO E learning trainer, an ICC accredited trainer and an approved TETA (Transport Education Training Authority Trainer).
Mark was invited as a guest speaker to this year’s Picard Conference. He explained that the WCO arranged presentations to stimulate discussions and guidance required from the WCO in the future. Along with South Africa, presentations were also delivered by Finland, Canadian and Moroccan Customs training experts in the results of research and the status in SADC countries of recognised accredited training frameworks which can be utilized by Customs worldwide. Whilst Customs administrations are implementing the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework it is clear that trade will need to follow the direction of future compliance as Customs leads forward into the 21st century.