From 24 to 26 November 2021, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) visited Tashkent, Uzbekistan to participate in various activities. On 26 November, he met with H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, during a working meeting and reviewed the progress of Customs reform during the past two years as well as the development of a roadmap for the upcoming two years. He also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a WCO Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL).
The President of Uzbekistan thanked Dr. Mikuriya for his continuous support for Customs modernization in his country and congratulated him on receiving the Presidential Medal on the previous day. He appreciated the WCO’s result-oriented and effective support in assisting Customs administrations in acceding to the WCO’s key Conventions, introducing digitalization, and building human resource capabilities.
President Mirziyoyev welcomed the establishment of the WCO Regional Customs Laboratory and the recognition of the Uzbekistan Customs Institute’s Bachelor of Customs Affairs Programme for compliance with the PICARD standards, and promised to provide further support to these institutions. He wished to continue the progress achieved in close cooperation with the WCO.
Secretary General Mikuriya suggested some concrete measures to make the reform sustainable in order to improve the business environment and better protect citizens from illicit trade while securing Custom revenue. Among the suggestions, he proposed the simplification and digitalization of Customs procedures, continued investment in digital technology while maintaining the interoperability of IT systems for successful transit operations, the development of anti-corruption and compliance strategies, and the expansion of the pool of experts. He also pledged to support Uzbekistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
At the conclusion of the meeting, President Mirziyoyev expressed his satisfaction to discuss high-level strategies with a Customs specialist such as Secretary General Mikuriya and the latter in turn thanked the President for his strong interest and support for Customs.
During his visit in Tashkent, Secretary General Milkuriya and Mr. Akmalkhuja Mavlonov, the Chairman of the State Customs Committee, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a WCO Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL) in Uzbekistan, officially conferring this status to the Tashkent Customs Laboratory.
During the in-person ceremony, Secretary General Mikuriya expressed his appreciation for this initiative and stated that the establishment of the RCL exemplified the progress achieved by Uzbekistan in reforming its Customs administration. He added that the presence during the ceremony of Customs representatives of the neighbouring countries as well as international organizations, is promising for the future of regional cooperation. He indicated that together with the RCL in EU and Russia, the network of 3 RCLs in the European region will contribute to broaden the connectivity at regional and global levels.
The representatives of Customs Laboratories from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, as well as representatives of the UNODC and the World Bank expressed their support and congratulations for this initiative. The participants visited the RCL and it was noted that the situation room was yet another example of technological advancement and innovation of the Uzbek Customs.