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WCO and IAPH launch Guidelines on Cooperation between Customs and Port Authorities

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ABU DHABI : The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) released the Guidelines on Cooperation between Customs and Port Authorities on the occasion of the IAPH 2023 World Ports Conference which opened on 31 October in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Guidelines outline methods to institutionalize cooperation, establish a data governance policy and ensure a mutual understanding of each other’s business, with a particular focus on digitalizing data flows. The document covers business processes, supporting IT systems, including the involved actors and the use of innovative technologies. It also discusses implementing interoperability between Customs’ and ports’ automated systems for the single submission of logistic and operational data sets, emphasizing adherence to WCO and International Maritime Organization (IMO) reference data models.

At the Conference, WCO Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Treviño Chapa stated, “The WCO has long advocated for digitalization in cross-border trade procedures, developing standards to facilitate the process. This includes a Data Model encompassing Customs procedures and those under the purview of international organizations. Our collaboration with the IMO to update the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business aims to enhance interoperability between Customs’ and Port’s digital systems. It’s now up to Customs administrations and port authorities to take advance this digitalization agenda. These Guidelines offer insights on improving operations and efficiency in Customs processes at ports and ensuring harmonization with the WCO Data Model.”

IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven, in the foreword of the Guidelines, remarked: “In our own project to identify gaps in global port infrastructure last year, our principle finding on trade facilitation was the issue of trust and the challenge of sharing data in a collaborative manner between port community stakeholders to optimize a vessel port call and minimize berth waiting time. By adopting a common agenda with a solid, sustainable governance structure in place to exchange “single truth” data, ports and Customs authorities can ensure supply chain security, thus improving trade facilitation in their respective countries.”

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