The global centre
of Customs expertise
Customs is recognized
as a critical institution to good governance, prosperity and the protection
The World Customs
Organization (WCO) aids the national economic wealth and social protection
of its Members by promoting an honest, transparent and predictable Customs
environment. This permits legitimate international trade to flourish and
effective action to be taken against illegal activity.
Established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council, the WCO
is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance
the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. With
159 Member Governments, it is the only intergovernmental worldwide
organization competent in Customs matters.
In order to fulfil
this mission, the World Customs Organization :
- Establishes, maintains,
supports and promotes international instruments for the harmonization
and uniform application of simplified and effective Customs systems
and procedures governing the movement of commodities, people and conveyances
across Customs frontiers ;
- Reinforces Membersâ€™
efforts to secure compliance with their legislation, by endeavouring
to maximize the level of effectiveness of Membersâ€™ co-operation with
each other and with international organizations in order to combat Customs
and other transnational offences ;
- Assists Members
in their efforts to meet the challenges of the modern business environment
and adapt to changing circumstances, by promoting communication and
co-operation among Members and with other international organizations,
and by fostering integrity, human resource development, transparency,
improvements in the management and working methods of Customs administrations
and the sharing of best practices.
The history of the WCO began in 1947 when the thirteen European Governments
represented in the Committee for European Economic Co-operation agreed
to set up a Study Group. This Group examined the possibility of establishing
one or more inter-European Customs Unions based on the principles of the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
In 1948, the Study
Group set up two committees â€“ an Economic Committee and a Customs Committee.
The Economic Committee was the predecessor of the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Customs Committee became the
Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).
In 1952, the Convention
formally establishing the CCC came into force. The Council is the governing
body of the CCC and the inaugural Session of the Council was held in Brussels
on 26 January 1953. Representatives of seventeen European countries attended
Council Session of the CCC.
After years of membership
growth, in 1994 the Council adopted the working name World Customs Organization,
to more clearly reflect its transition to a truly global intergovernmental
institution. It is now the voice of 159 Customs administrations which
operate on all continents and represent all stages of economic development.
Today, WCO Members are responsible for processing more than 95 % of all
How are we organized
The WCO is a forum where delegates representing a wide variety of Members
can tackle Customs issues on an equal footing. Each Member has one representative
and one vote. It offers its
Members a wide range of Conventions and other international instruments.
WCO Members can also take advantage of the technical assistance and training
services delivered either directly by the
Secretariat or provided with its involvement.
The WCO is directed
by the full Council and the Policy Commission (24 Members), with financial
advice from the Finance Committee (17 Members). The WCO works through
its Committees and its Secretariat to complete the work set forth in the
key activities of the WCO Strategic Plan, which is approved annually by
the Council. The principal Committees of the WCO are the :
- PERMANENT TECHNICAL
COMMITTEE, including the Information Management Sub-Committee
- ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
- HARMONIZED SYSTEM
COMMITTEE, including the Harmonized System Review Sub-Committee and
the Scientific Sub-Committee
- TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
ON CUSTOMS VALUATION
- TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
ON RULES OF ORIGIN.
Structure of the
The current Secretary General is Mr. Michel Danet (France) and he is assisted
by three other elected officials. They are the Deputy Secretary General,
Mr. Kunio Mikuriya (Japan), the Director of Compliance and Facilitation,
Mr. Jouko LempiÃ¤inen (Finland) and the The World Customs Organization
Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, Mr. Holm Kappler (United States).
Approximately 60 expert technical staff, who are either appointed to the
WCO or who are technical attachÃ©s on secondment from Member administrations,
provide a high level of technical expertise to the various programmes
and projects of the WCO. Locally recruited staff provide secretarial,
translation, interpretation and general support services.
The two official
languages of the WCO are English and French, but Spanish is also used
for some technical meetings.
For many years, the WCO has been making progress on the harmonization
of international Customs procedures. These efforts have met with considerable
success. The WCO developed and introduced the Harmonized Commodity Description
and Coding System, which is used world-wide as the basis for classifying
goods and for the collection of Customs revenue.
In June 1999, a
revised International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization
of Customs Procedures (the Kyoto Convention) was approved by the Council.
The revised Convention is a response to the growth in international cargo,
the incredible developments in
information technology and a highly competitive international business
environment based on quality service and customer satisfaction, all of
which have created a conflict with traditional Customs methods and procedures.
The WCO also administers
the WTO Valuation Agreement and has recently developed Harmonized Rules
of Origin which have been forwarded for consideration by the WTO in Geneva
for eventual use by its Members.
Working closely together,
the WCO, WTO and UNCTAD are co-ordinating their efforts to remove the
remaining barriers to trade by simplifying and harmonizing Customs procedures
and processes throughout the world. Combining the influence of the WTO,
UNCTAD and the WCO will make a significant contribution to both trade
facilitation and trade compliance. This commitment to partnership is further
reflected in the close working relationship that the WCO enjoys with the
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). A Co-operation Agreement between
the two organizations seeks to further standardize and improve the level
of Customs capabilities world-wide.
Although significant progress has been made, efficient and effective performance
is not spread evenly among all Customs administrations, or in all regions
of the world. In fact, many Customs administrations are still suffering
the ill-effects of inefficiency and corruption. To address this issue,
the WCO provides extensive technical assistance to Members and has developed
a Customs Reform and Modernization Programme (CRM) which is designed to
assist Member administrations which seek to become more self-reliant through
better use of resources, strengthening of management capabilities, and
designing appropriate and efficient Customs processes and procedures.
Resolution of the Customs Co-operation
Council on Security and Facilitation of the International Trade Supply
Chain June 2002
in WorldSecurity-index does not imply any endorsement by the WCO of any