Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the event themed ‘Effective Solutions for Coordinated Border Management’ was hosted by Dubai Customs.
Held at Atlantis – The Palm in Dubai from 14 – 16 May, the conference explored ways that modern information and communication technology (ICT) can transform the government’s approach to border management. The concept of coordinated border management (CBM), which was highlighted at this year’s conference, calls for border agencies of several countries to come together to find new ways to work effectively for achieving seamless connectivity at the borders.
The Dubai Declaration stressed on the importance of strengthening coordination at the local and international levels between departments of customs, security, environment, health, municipalities, and immigration. Enhancing channels of communication between these parties through the use of best electronic solutions to maintain the security of each economy and society was also prioritized. Moving forward, agencies were encouraged to abandon silo thinking and appreciate the importance of communicating a unified and simpler message to the private sector and citizens.
Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, said, “Those of us working in the supply chain from both the private and public sector are faced with the same challenges, mandating all stakeholders to collaborate. Consolidating standards and strengthening trust between different agencies and departments within the state on one hand, and between the governments of participating countries on the other is essential to dismantling this matrix of challenges. And, facilitating this transition was the primary focus of the conference. Each discussion and session was designed to gain recommendations and identify practical solutions supported by modern technologies. We also worked to emphasis on the role of every stakeholder and catalysed them to work as one body.”
Commenting on the ‘Dubai Declaration’, His Excellency Ahmed Butti Ahmed, Executive Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, and Director General of Dubai Customs, said, “As trade between nations constantly sets new records, the main challenge confronting customs departments worldwide is to keep pace with the evolving technological, logistical, economic and legal environment in other regions. Therefore, customs departments need continuous updates across these segments to meet their obligations effectively. Additionally, these challenges demand the world to agree upon a common policy and consolidate standards. This poses a major challenge as the standardization and harmonization of diverse goods is a complicated and time-consuming process. However, continuous communication, coordination and cooperation among the GCC countries have helped us come a long way in that direction.”
“Towards this end, the discussions and speeches of the 2013 WCO IT Conference and Exhibition, offered valuable recommendations that have been compiled into the Dubai Declaration to help organizations and governments benefit from the best practices, methods, and frameworks for coordination and applications,” he added.
Key points in the Dubai Declaration include:
First: CBM can help improve efficiency of the supply chain to address both trade facilitation and security issues and consequently contribute to the economic competiveness of countries. As there are a number of authorities active at the border, a coordinated approach is needed to ensure that compliant traders can operate with minimal delays. This imperative makes CBM an important element of the Economic Competitiveness Package (ECP), a new tool developed by the WCO for its members to address the issue of customs’ contribution to competitiveness.
The WCO, together with its 179 members, has developed a set of ICT solutions, tools and applications, as well as technical assistance and capacity building programmes to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of customs administrations. To better support CBM, the global customs outfit organizes the WCO IT Conference and Exhibition, which was hosted jointly with Dubai Customs this year. The event seeks to share the experiences and best practices on implementing the relevant WCO tools such as the WCO Data Model, the WCO Single Window Compendium and the concept of Globally Networked Customs amongst customs administrations, other governmental agencies and the private sector.
One of the most successful and inspiring examples of CBM implementation lies within the IT realm: Single Window, Globally Networked Customs, Targeting Centres and e-government are concepts that most customs authorities have adopted in recent years. However, their level of ‘finesse’ varies significantly from country to country, particularly due to the rapid developments in the IT sphere and the capacity of governments to ‘absorb’ these changes.
Second: Developing trust amongst different government agencies as well as between government agencies and the private sector is paramount. These bodies need to step up their levels of communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration. This requires strong political and administrative leadership.
Major General Carl Modey, Commissioner, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, said, “In an ideal scenario, customs authorities of countries play a progressive role of trade facilitation without compromising on revenue and national security. Governments must have the political will to implement the required legislation wherein a lead agency, such as the customs department, is instated to coordinate effective communication and exchange of information among the multiple agencies involved in border management. Moreover, there should be greater mobilization of funds to formulate a simplified system of data sharing, which in turn will enhance revenue flows and border security.”
Roger Smith, Deputy Director General, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand, said, “Trust between customs department and agencies is key to achieving coordination between stakeholders. In New Zealand, we realised the need for serious discussions between the units tasked with protecting the country, including the police, border patrol and other departments. We believe this is the perfect solution to enhance border security and reduce crime. In addition to trust, professionalism in administering the job and identifying issues is vital to ensuring secure borders.”
Third: Agencies must respect mutual objectives and obligations when making arrangements for collaborative risk management and control measures.
All stakeholders responsible for maintaining security of the economy and society as well as controlling the entry of goods through ports such as departments of customs and security, environment, municipal, health, immigration must coordinate and communicate among themselves. More importantly, their awareness and respect for each other’s management procedures, duties and nature of work is in the interest of their joint responsibility of protecting national security, environment and resources.
Fourth: Border agencies must address risks collaboratively with streamlined procedures avoiding unnecessary duplications. For instance, two nations that are trading partners may agree on a mechanism whereby tests conducted on a product by the exporting country is adequate to meet the safety and quality requirements of the importing country. This would save a lot of time, money and effort on the part of customs laboratories in the importing country.
Speaking of the Dutch model of collaborative border management in the consumer and food cargo category, Freek van Zoeren, Deputy Inspector General, Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said, “The Dutch economy rests heavily on international trade – it ranks fifth worldwide in terms of exports and seventh in terms of imports. Our experiences have revealed that increased check-post inspection is no longer a stand-alone solution to safe and secure border trade. Instead, we have implemented a layered model of managing information in the supply chain, which takes into account data, logistics, actors or traders, financial information and documentation.”
“The model has been applied in China, a country that routes 60 to 80% of consumer products through Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The system enables us to collaborate with the Chinese consumer safety authority to reinforce the fundamental principle of the layered process, which is safety at the source. This facilitates seamless surveillance, exchange of testing data and reduced double-testing of cargo samples. Similarly, our method of electronic certification reduces the dependence on outdated paper-based documentation, which is vulnerable to fraud, an administrative burden and a deterrent to direct communication between border authorities of different countries,” he added.
Fifth: Application of technologies should be based on simplified and harmonized procedures embodied in the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework of Standards that touches upon particular CBM mechanisms such as ‘juxtaposed office’, ‘joint controls’, ‘single window’ and the enhancement of international cooperation with other customs administrations. The concept has been further developed within the SAFE framework of standards to secure and facilitate global trade. SAFE contains a set of practical measures on Single Window and border management. In addition, the WCO has also developed the Single Window Compendium and the CBM Compendium, which is currently being updated as part of the ECP.
Sixth: Technology is an enabler for responding to the above recommendations. Public and private sector should jointly develop innovative solutions. However, technology is only a tool and the human factor needs to be addressed through collaborative work between border agencies at policy and operational level.
Seventh: Adopting innovative technology to improve border management must go hand-in-hand with an appropriate human resource development strategy to make it sustainable.
According to Dikko Inde Abdullahi, Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service and Vice-Chair – West and Central African Region, WCO, information communications technology is an enabler and not a driver in cross border coordination between agencies, stakeholders and the trading public. Although the role of ICT in facilitating efficient trade and cross border management is indisputable, it is the mindset and role of the people that is paramount for the realization of ICT modernization goals.
Drawing on the experience of the Nigerian Customs amidst its current challenges, Abdullahi pointed out, “Realizing the key role of the human factor in ICT modernization, the Nigerian Customs Service established the Six Point Agenda – capacity building, ICT, coordination, integrity, collaboration with stakeholders and welfare. This has led to the successful harmonization and collaboration of efforts and functions between all agencies, bringing it closer to achieving trade facilitation in cross border trade.”
Nick Small, Director IT Solutions, Crown Agents, said, “Customs officers must possess the capabilities of new generations and not find new technologies challenging for them, especially with the rapid growth of technology capacities and with the widespread use of the internet and mobile phones to communicate. The growing interest for social media is evident and has become a universal means of digital communication. This trend will contribute significantly to the application of e-solutions and e-government and add new value to trade.”
Eighth: Single Window enables sharing information, facilitates trade, reduces costs and mitigates risks at the borders. The WCO Data Model provides the standardized data set that meets the procedural and legal requirements of cross-border regulatory agencies and thus supports the Single Window concept.
A ‘single window’ is a nationwide facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point – which is one of the key objectives of deploying an e-government platform – to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.
Tom Butterly, Deputy Director of the Trade and Sustainable Land Management Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), said, “The single window method has proven its effectiveness, particularly for developing countries, as it helps the application of e-government and is much easier for them to adopt than developed countries that find it difficult to make significant changes in their current traditional methods.”
He also stressed on the need for a vision in terms of cross-border communication and ways to exchange information, along with the need for identifying solutions and alternatives. Furthermore, he urged all parties to cooperate and work on the implementation of single window by 2014.
Elie Sawaya, Deputy Managing Director, Bureau Veritas, Congo DR, said, “Benin can serve as a great example for successful implementation of the single window system. Lack of visibility over customs revenues and supply chain efficiency were recurrent issues for the Benin government previously. Since the implementation of the Port Single Window, we have registered a boost in the state’s revenues and increased operational transparency. Most of all, it improved efficiency in the supply chain, while Cotonou port waiting time went down from eight days to 48 hours.”
Ninth: Customs plays a central role at the border and can provide its IT services to other border agencies. For instance, the application of the risk engine invented by Dubai Customs led to the reduction of time required to assess the risk of any customs process to less than two seconds, and the clearance of around 97% of non-suspicious customs in less than one minute. The risk engine also contributed to lowering by 13% the level of intervention on transactions which increased the number of automatically processed transactions; there was also a 328% increase in the number of transactions that are cleared in less than 10 minutes, which represents 82% of the customs total transactions. Consequently, the use of this technique has affected and facilitated the work of all other border agencies.
Tenth: By working more closely with the private sector, more data quality and better compliance can be ensured to achieve further trade facilitation.
Willie Shumba, Senior Programme Officer, Customs, Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) – Directorate Southern African Development Community (SADC), said, “The modern customs administration needs to recognize the principles of partnership and collaborations. Collaborations between customs and customs, and customs and business networks need to be promoted. Customs has to be responsive to input from stakeholders and needs to actively engage with them. Collaboration will result in a seamless, cooperative system for the good of both customs and stakeholders.”
Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, Director General, Senegal Customs, said, “Senegal Integrated Single Window is a successful example of paperless end-to-end system built through a dynamic partnership between public and private sector. It has resulted in 70% reduction in procedure time. The single window combines B-to-B, e-clearance and cargo systems and uses technology to build efficiencies of cost and resources.”
Eleventh: International organizations need to join forces and work together in order to improve cooperation and complementarities of border functions at national and international levels.
Highlighting areas of collaboration with International Air Transport Association (IATA) for achieving global harmonization of border management procedures, Des Vertannes, Global Head of Cargo, IATA, said, “We have been working with WCO and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop long-term solutions in air cargo and border-trade cargo management. With increasing volumes, programs such as the US CVP pilot edition that offers advanced screening options help to manage air cargo and reduce duplication of paper-based data management.”
“Solutions such as the e-Freight program link the entire consortium of consigners and consignees with the customs department in a seamless, paperless process. This also allows stakeholders to identify data required by border agencies well in advance. e-Freight is currently available in 462 airports globally; our goal is to implement the program in 80% of airports by 2015. We also have devised the consignment security declaration that can be used to electronically transmit information, such as who supplied the cargo, when and how, making it ideal to ensure security during border-trade,” he added.
The conference hosted 19 activities including three roundtable discussions, three sessions, 10 speeches and three specialized technical seminars, headlined by over 70 speakers comprising key office bearers, leaders, decision-makers and experts in customs management worldwide, bringing together more than 1,000 international, regional and local representatives of the World Customs Organization, stakeholders and international media organizations as well as customs departments of more than 100 countries.
The accompanying exhibition offered a platform to more than 100 global exhibitors to showcase their latest technology innovations in surveillance and inspection techniques such as customs and ports management software, support solutions for coordination between various government agencies and stakeholders to manage their operations effectively.
Tuesday, June 4- 2013 @ 11:53 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.