From 27 to 29 June 2019, the 133rd Annual Session of the WCO Council took place in Brussels, Belgium. Directors General and representatives of the 183 WCO Member Customs administrations gathered to assess the progress made and make plans for the next financial year, with the aim of building a stable, predictable, safe and transparent trade environment. The INCU has observer status at the Council. INCU President, Prof. David Widdowson participated on behalf of the INCU.
Discussions were held on the issues relating to the WCO’s different areas of work, including the Harmonized System, rules of origin, Customs valuation, enforcement, facilitation and capacity building.
The 2022 version of the Harmonized System was discussed and adopted as an important tool. Notable amendments were made regarding new headings for major technologies, electronic waste, various gases with high global warming potential, rapid diagnostic kits for Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, new fentanyl opioid derivatives, cultural objects, and several edible products.
The Council endorsed an E-Commerce package and agreed to continue developing additional technical specifications. The “Joint WCO UPU Guidelines on exchange of electronic advance data between Posts and Customs” were adopted to further enhance Customs-Post cooperation. In addition, an implementation strategy, an action plan and a capacity building mechanism aimed at ensuring the widespread adoption and implementation of the Framework of Standards were adopted.
The Council also adopted the new WCO Strategic Plan for 2019/2022 with its nine priority areas, namely: coordinated border management, security and safety, the Revised Kyoto Convention, e-commerce, the Harmonized System, the Capacity Building Strategy, performance measurement, integrity, and digital Customs and data analysis.
Several elections took place during the meeting. Mr. Pranab Kumar Das of India was elected Director of the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate and Mr. Taeil Kang of Korea was elected Director of the Capacity Building Directorate. Both will join the Secretariat in January 2020. Mr Dicksons Collins Kateshumbwa, Commissioner of Uganda Customs, was elected as the next Chairperson of the Council.
In addition, delegates witnessed Ghana deposit its instrument of accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention, and Gambia instrument of accession to the Harmonized System Convention.