Using technology to enhance border management



World Customs Organization, Brussels, Belgium


Today, it is recognised that clearance processes by customs and other agencies are among the mos t important and problematic links in the global supply chain. High costs and administrative difficulties associated wi th outda ted and excessively bureaucratic border clearance processes are now cited as more important barriers to trade than tariffs. Inefficient border processing systems, procedures, and infrastructure result in high transaction costs, long delays in the clearance of  imports, exports, and transit goods, and present significant opportunities for administrative corruption.

And with the world exper iencing a severe economic meltdown as a result of the financial crisis, it is now, more than ever, necessary for countries to do all they can to encourage trade flows and inward investment whilst ensuring that effective enforcement mechanisms are in place at borders to prevent any disruptive, toxic or illicit trade from entering national territory.

Just as the global financial crisis and its economic impact is colouring world thinking, it is also colouring the way customs does its business both now and in the  future, especially the way borders are managed by customs and other border agencies. Smart border management in cooperation with all trade stakeholders is now an imperative to meet the demands of the global trading system.

Clearly, enhancing border management and ensuring that it is coordinated is seen as a critical step for the future. This entails cooperation among the variety of  government agencies with a role in the regulation or control of cross border movements. The key challenge is to create an environment based upon trust that allows customs, immigration, quarantine, the police and others to work collaboratively at the border.

Several WCO instruments, tools, and initiatives significantly enhance future border management and incorporate all functions within the customs domain. This body of WCO work plays a vital role in border management and can contribute enormously to efforts aimed at ensuring even better border management based on  coordination, collaboration, cooperation and communication.

WCO Data Model

Information and documentation are key elements in the control of international cross-border trade. In today’s interconnected electronic environment these controls  increasingly include advance transmission of data to customs as well as customs-to-customs information exchange in order to provide the necessary level of security as well as acceptable release times. In this modern era of single window systems aimed at providing a coordinated means for governments to interact with the  international trade and transport industries for all border regulatory data requirements, the WCO Data Model has kept pace with these developments and now incorporates wider business and information needs.

Using international standards is the key to effective and efficient exchange and shar ing of information amongst a diverse range of parties. The Data Model provides standard and harmonised sets of data and electronic messages to be submitted by the trade to government to accomplish formalities for the arr ival, departure, transit and clearance of goods, people, conveyances and transport equipment used in international cross-border trade. The WCO revised Kyoto Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of customs procedures requires  customs administrations to request as little data as necessary to ensure compliance with customs laws and that concept too is intrinsic to the Data Model.

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