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Successful completion of the 2021 WCO TECH-CON with renewed focus on international standards

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BRUSSELS : On 10 and 11 November 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held the 2nd virtual technology event, TECH-CON under the theme “Technology in support of Customs in the supply chain – A spotlight on relevant international standards”. The event attracted around 1500 registered participants from 144 countries.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the WCO, highlighted the standards that support interconnectivity along the end-to-end supply chain, with a special emphasis on the border management environment. Dr. Mikuriya further stressed that better awareness and understanding of the standards for a sound supply chain is crucial for increasing the consistency and level of implementation by relevant actors, including Customs.

The six sessions of the TECH-CON illustrated the importance of international standards, as well as the importance of interoperability of the various technological solutions. In this context a video promoting the WCO Data Model was launched during the event. “Without standards there is inefficiency, with standards there is efficiency”, said one of the high-level speakers in Session I. The sessions explored the application of international standards at different levels, including data models and harmonization in data exchange, exchange of non-intrusive inspection (NII) data, legal identity, interoperability and many others.

During the TECH-CON, the participants learnt about the legal and technical prerequisites that need to be in place in order to reap full benefits of blockchain technology, such as achieving better transparency, immutability and accessibility of information, data quality and sharing of information amongst stakeholders in cross-border trade. In addition, they learnt about the developments in the maritime transport, such as the digitization of shipping documents and the creation and integration of single window environments. One of the TECH-CON sessions provided insights into electronic transport documents, some of which also serve as the Customs declaration, as well as data gathering, data sharing and data intelligence in NII.

Clear takeaways from the two-day discussions include the need for enhanced cooperation with all stakeholders in the supply chain, including among partner standard-setting international organizations, as they impact different parts of the supply chain. There is a need to work in synergy to achieve true efficiency. “Collaboration is needed between industry bodies to align requirements”, pointed out a speaker in Session III. The WCO stands ready to explore the synergies and to work in collaboration with partner international organizations and private sector associations.

This event was made possible thanks to the valuable support provided by the Korea Customs Service and the event sponsors – S2 Global, Nuctech, Publican Trade Solutions and Rapiscan Systems AS&E. All presentations are available in English and French on the event web site: Day 1 and Day 2. A recording of the proceedings will be available on the WCO’s YouTube channel.

In his closing address, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das , Director of the WCO Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, , thanked all those who contributed to the success of the 2021 WCO TECH-CON as well as the Customs administration of the Netherlands for hosting the WCO Technology Conference & Exhibition in person in Maastricht, the Netherlands from 18 to 20 October 2022.

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