Archives For World Customs Journal

A much-awaited edition of the World Customs Journal has been published and is available on their website follow this link. In his editorial, Professor David Widdowson reflects on the recent WCO conference on Excise Administration and Enforcement.  “An important subject for discussion at the Excise Summit was the increasing incidence of illicit international trade, particularly in relation to alcohol and tobacco products, and we are pleased to provide a useful overview of the topic in Section 3 of this edition of the World Customs Journal”, states Professor Widdowson (World Customs Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, p. v).  It is not often that the subject of Excise attracts much or any real conference publicity, so it is all the more a treat to have such a bumper edition on the subject with papers and articles from academics and practitioners.

In South Africa, the subject is somewhat subdued given the emphasis and prominence accorded to the Customs Modernisation Programme. Of late there have been determined efforts within the SARS administration to initiate some focus on Excise. This is only right since many of the so-called excise manufacturers and supporting industries play a significant role not only towards their contribution to the South African fiscus, but likewise have linkages with the import and export logistics supply chain. For this reason alone, the WCJ September 2012 Edition comes at a fortuitous time. I would also encourage you to read the article by Elizabeth Allen (a collaborator on my blog) titled – The Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and How to Tackle It. 

Advertisements

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.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Organization published a new Annual Report that takes stock of where the WCO has been, where it is now, and where it is going, in addition to serving as a window on the many successes of the WCO, its Members and Customs’ external partners.

The Annual Report contains two major sections: the first includes a summary of the WCO’s mission, history, strategies, current activities and organizational arrangements; and the second comprises profiles of current Members, such as information on the Customs administration, the Director General and contact details, as well as data related to the administration’s operations.

Of particular note is the fact that the WCO’s 177 Member Customs administrations collectively employ approximately 800,000 staff and contribute an average of 33% of their Governments’ total tax revenue, while processing over 98% of all international trade.

The WCO’s role as the steward of global Customs standards is reflected in the Annual Report, which also presents information on how the WCO continues to assist Customs authorities to achieve their objectives, especially the effective application of controls while efficiently facilitating legitimate trade. Source: wcoomd.org

The latest edition of the World Customs Journal (March 2012) comprises what appears to be a disparate array of topics. Professor David Widdowson invites your attention to the underlying theme of contrasting approaches to universal imperatives which permeates several of the contributions, which includes, for example,

  • a comparative analysis of excise taxation across the ASEAN region and identifies the need for standardisation in readiness for the impending introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community. It’s nice, for a change to have articles which deal with Excise.
  • a research paper concerning the diversity of de minimis arrangements in the APEC region, highlighting their impact on economic benefits and costs.
  • a review of a variety of regional approaches to coordinated border management, and
  • the introduction of the EU’s electronic customs environment as a means of achieving regional standardisation.

The underlying commonality of border management imperatives is also reflected in this edition’s Special Report. In his insightful article ‘Lines and Flows: the Beginning and End of Borders’ Alan Bersin (former Commissioner of the CBP) challenges the traditional concept of international borders, and introduces a paradigm that views global cooperation as a fundamental requirement for effective border management. The next edition of the Journal will focus on excise policy and practice, and will include papers presented at the World Customs Organization’s Global Excise Summit which will be held on 2-3 July at the WCO Headquarters in Brussels. Source: The World Customs Journal.

Just in time for the Christmas holiday break! A new edition of the World Customs Journal is now available and, per usual, offers a number of excellent papers on current issues and demands facing Customs and Border Control agencies. Professor David Widdowson, editor-in-chief, and head of the Centre for Customs & Excise Studies (CCES) at the University of Canberra, Australia makes some poignant remarks about customs education, research and the application thereof in the modern world –

World Customs Journal - Sept 2011“one very clear message for me is the need to ensure that our research remains demand-driven rather than supply-driven, otherwise it won’t be valued or, worse still, it won’t even be read by those who could potentially benefit from it. In this regard, there is a need to monitor the effectiveness of what we do – to what extent is the theory being translated into practice? To what extent are academic efforts and activities found to be useful by the WCO and its member administrations? To what extent are research findings being applied in a practical sense? This is, in itself, a fertile area for future research.”

These are very pertinent views given the volume of students undertaking these courses, who in many cases work in customs environments (at home) which are seemingly both oblivious and ignorant to the importance of academic knowledge and human intellect. With so much importance and bias on the ICT nowadays, the technical skills and attributes of what makes a good customs and border control official are relegated to secondary importance. Please read the articles

Related article