The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization HE Kunio Mikuria said in a televised speech on the 4th UAE Customs Week that the customs sectors in the UAE is working closely with different government entities and partners around the world to curb the spread of the covid-19 pandemic and ensure safety to everyone.
Mr Mikuria stated that the UAE Federal Customs Authority is an important member of the WCO and host of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) in the Middle East and North Africa region. He expressed his sincere thanks to the UAE for its constant support to the WCO and members of the MENA region in their reform and modernization programs.
Mr Mikuria said the past year presented a particular challenge for all Customs administrations under the COVID-19 situation. He highly commended all Customs officers who made enormous efforts to safeguard the supply chain in spite of the potential health risks that they were exposed to.
Mr Mikuria stated that the WCO has sought to support the Customs administrations and the global society in providing guidance, in facilitating and securing the global supply chain, coordinating international cooperation and providing capacity-building assistance; thereby contributing to the sustainable development efforts.
“As we are all aiming to move towards the post-pandemic era throughout 2021, the WCO has adopted this year's annual theme as “Customs bolstering recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain”. With this theme, the Customs community in collaboration with partners and stakeholders will be focusing on recovering from the global pandemic and support people and business by renewing the global supply chain while acquiring resilience. I expect that the UAE could offer a good model in this global endeavour as a WCO member as well as the host country of the ROCB.”
Mr Mikuria said Customs can contribute to a sustainable supply chain in the following ways:
- First, reinforcing collaboration to drive the recovery process. The reconstruction cannot be undertaken in isolation and the expertise of all border agencies and stakeholders will be a decisive factor. In the UAE, Customs have been working closely with partner government agencies and relevant stakeholders to support the government efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure safety.
They're working now to expedite border procedures of the importation of COVID-19 vaccine – a good example of coordinated border management. In this context, the UAE has shown the leadership in implementing the WCO instruments and programmes. In the recent global conference on Free Zones, His Excellency Ahmed Abdullah bin Lahej Al Falasi, Director-General of the Federal Customs Authority, made an opening speech and explained the Customs role in facilitating and securing free zones with adequate customs control in coordination with other government agencies. Moreover, the UAE is scheduled to host the AEO conference this year to showcase its stakeholder engagement with the private sector.
- Second, embracing digital transformation and other advanced technologies to enable renewal rather than return to how things were before. Here again that UAE shows its commitment to digitalizing all Customs procedures in several areas. Its smart inspection projects and electronic shipment tracking systems are some of the examples that the UAE has enrolled in using the technology. I expect that the UAE could share its experience in the upcoming WCO events.
- Third, putting the people at the centre of change for a resilient and sustainable supply chain. Customs are called upon to rethink and adapt the way they operate and build up the preparedness of their staff and stakeholders through awareness raising and capacity building for the provision of a professional service and compliance. I'm sure that the UAE Centennial Plan 2071 will help establishing the resilience in this respect and the ROCB could contribute to sharing that excellent knowledge to the region.
Mr Mikuria said the WCO will continue to work with Customs in the UAE to achieve these goals with recovery, renewal and resilience in mind and share best practices.