WCO PICARD Conference 2012 held in Marrakesh

The 7th WCO PICARD Conference was held from 25 to 27 September 2012 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The annual PICARD Conference is a joint initiative of the WCO and INCU, and this year’s conference was hosted by the University of Cadi Ayyad with support from the Customs Administration of Morocco.

Over 230 delegates representing WCO Members, the academic world, the private sector,other international organisations and other interested parties attended the conference. The Conference was co-chaired by the Vice-President of INCU, Professor Michael Wolffgang (University of Muenster), and Professors M’barek Benchanaa and Abdullah Ait Ouahman (University of Cadi Ayyad).

As a platform for Customs research, the PICARD Conference 2012 continued the theme of “Promoting Research-based Knowledge to Support Customs Decision-making” and focused on the following 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.

In examining and analysing these issues, Conference participants were encouraged to identify a range of solutions to address identified concerns, with a particular emphasis on capacity building, improving performance and research opportunities.

In his welcome speech, the WCO Secretary General, Dr Kunio Mikuriya, stated that the annual PICARD Conference is aimed at promoting high level exchanges on Customs education and professionalism and to encourage more research in cooperation with universities and research institutes.

Head of INCU Secretariat, Dr Mikhail Kashubsky, updated delegates on recent INCU developments and current membership base, and announced new INCU membership structure, which now allows individuals to become members of INCU in their own right.

During the Conference, a draft PICARD 2020 strategic document on the future of the PICARD Programme was introduced and discussed. The WCO advised that the draft strategic document will be further updated in the course of the coming months and then presented to the next Session of the WCO Capacity Building Committee for consideration.

It was also announced that the next year’s PICARD Conference will take place in St. Petersburg, Russia, in September 2013.