BRUSSELS / NEW DELHI : On 28 September 2023, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), delivered a video-recorded message to the International Conference MASCRADE 2023. The event, hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), in New Delhi, India, bore the theme “Tackling Illicit Trade: Socio-Economic Perspectives and Solutions” and sought to raise awareness on challenges posed by illicit trade to industries, governments, and society, to explore solutions and to promote cooperation.
In his keynote message, Secretary General Mikuriya expressed concern over the escalating trend of illicit trade in recent years. He emphasized the repercussions, particularly in depriving governments of vital revenues that could be funneled into essential public services.
He further highlighted the rapid expansion of e-commerce and how it’s giving rise to traditional forms of revenue fraud, such as false declarations or undervaluation. This, he pointed out, creates bigger challenges for Customs since many clients might not be familiar with Customs regulations.
Secretary General Mikuriya urged Customs agencies to enhance their cooperation with e-commerce entities and intermediaries. This would foster responsible and compliant trade practices, mitigating the negative impacts fraud has on governments, consumer protection, and mainstream retailers.
The role of Customs isn’t solely about revenue collection. It’s equally pivotal in shielding society from the trans-border influx of restricted or controlled commodities, whether they be drugs, sub-standard or counterfeit medicines and auto parts, or weapons and explosives that threaten health, safety, and security.
While Customs is instrumental in curbing the entry of these hazardous products at borders, addressing the demand side mandates partnerships with professional bodies to enlighten consumers about the potential harms of illicit goods.
To truly combat the diverse forms of illicit trade – from drugs and counterfeit items to dual-use precursor chemicals and wildlife trafficking – cooperation is imperative. This includes collaboration between different Customs administrations, between Customs and businesses and between Customs and professional organizations.
To address smuggling and illicit trade threats, the WCO has leveraged technology to enhance the circulation of enforcement data and insights. It has rolled out multiple tools to facilitate information exchange among Customs, aiming for both equitable revenue collection and societal protection