The 8th WCO PICARD Conference took place from 18 to 20 September 2013 in St Petersburg, Russia. It was attended by a record number of nearly 250 delegates. The annual PICARD Conference is a joint initiative of the WCO and INCU, and this year’s conference was jointly organised by the WCO and the International Business and Law Institute of the National Research University ITMO, Russian Federation, with support from the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU) and the Customs Administration of Russian Federation.
The Conference was opened by Prof. Elena Bogdanova, Director of the International Business and Law Institute of ITMO, Mr. Kokorev, Chairman of the Board of the “International Center of External Economic Activities Development CADUCEUS” Fund, Mr. Komlichenko, Deputy Director General, Russian Customs, and the Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya.
The Conference focused on three topics: the WCO Economic Competitiveness Package; the impact on Customs of various regional integration initiatives; and enhancing professionalism in Customs, that is to say how to operationalize the PICARD 2020 Strategic Document. During the Conference, presentations on high-quality research outcomes, panel discussions and workshops were organized, leading to intensive interaction with and among the participants.
In his opening address and his various contributions on the three Conference topics, Secretary General Mikuriya welcomed the input by academia and the exchange of ideas and experience under the WCO PICARD umbrella, which would be taken into account in the WCO’s policy discussions. In this context, he encouraged participants to invest in even more research in support of Customs’ decision-making processes. He expressed the WCO’s determination to remain agile to the changing global trade landscape, and to keep WCO instruments relevant in support of economic competitiveness. He also highlighted the critical role played by Customs in regional co-operation and integration initiatives and the necessity to enhance Customs capacity building in respect of professionalism.
As a new feature of the WCO PICARD Conference, the host university organized a half-day Youth Forum immediately after the Conference. It brought together students from various universities who held lively discussions with Conference speakers and participants on topics raised during the Conference, as well as on future career possibilities in Customs and in the international arena.