57 Customs Authorities Announce ‘Seoul Declaration’ on Global Customs Cooperation and Digital Customs
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57 Customs Authorities Announce ‘Seoul Declaration’ on Global Customs Cooperation and Digital Customs
KCS Commissioner Yoon holds bilateral talks with heads of 22 customs authorities, as well as four institutions

27(Sat), May, 2023

Commissioner Yoon Tae-sik of Korea Customers Service (KCS), delivers a speech at a ceremony to open Korea Customs Week 2023, which took place at the Shilla Hotel on April 26. (Photo: KCS)

Fifty-seven countries participating in Korea Customs Week announced the “Seoul Declaration,” a joint statement on global customs cooperation and digital customs on April 26 in Seoul.

The joint statement, issued on the Roundtable on Day 1 of the event, says, “We firmly believe that customs can play a vital role in establishing a more inclusive and sustainable global trading system that benefits all.” 

“We acknowledge that the COVID-19 Pandemic and geopolitical tensions have highlighted the critical role of customs in ensuring the smooth flow of goods across borders. 

However, we also acknowledge that each customs administration faces numerous challenges in keeping up with the rapidly evolving trade landscape,” according to the statement. 

“In this sense, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of customs cooperation and digitalization as an integral part of customs modernization to enhance the efficiency, transparency and security of customs processes,” it said. 

The Roundtable, chaired by Commissioner Yoon Tae-sik of Korea Customers Service (KCS), was part of the Korea Customs Week, which took place at the Shilla Hotel through April 28. 

Customs heads from 78 countries participated in the roundtable and discussed ways of promoting global cooperation. 

On a multilateral level, 18 customs authorities, including KCS, shared the view that the illicit drug trade, which is inextricably linked to other transnational criminal activity, including money laundering and arms smuggling, could escalate to such a level where perpetrators can pose serious political and security threats to the region. 

In a joint statement on customs cooperation on narcotics control in Asia and the Pacific region, they said, “Being convinced that cooperation and joint enforcement among the customs authorities against drug trafficking and related issues is the best countermeasure to prevent the flow of illicit drugs across borders, and we, the customs representatives, jointly decided to raise the level of communication among the customs authorities, by face-to-face engagement for smooth administrative services and sharing information, such as drug seizure cases subject to the domestic laws.” 

The release of the joint statement reflects each customs authority’s serious worry about the rising spread of drugs in the Asia Pacific region. 

It is expected to serve as an opportunity for customs authorities in the region to further cooperate to stem smuggling of drugs, such as intelligence exchanges and joint crackdowns. 

In a related development, KCS had uncovered 75 cases of drugs weighing a combined 88.6 kg, in cooperation with 18 customs authorities in the Asia Pacific region between November 2022 and December 2022. 

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo delivered his commemorative speech at a ceremony to open Korea Customs Week. 

The event was held under the theme “Global Customs Cooperation and Digital Customs.”

KCS Commissioner Yoon held bilateral talks with the heads of 22 customs authorities, as well as four institutions, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 

The countries included Bangladesh, Ghana, Bosnia, Madagascar, Thailand, Georgia, India, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Egypt, China, Maldives, Iraq, Mongolia, Germany and New Zealand. 

KCS discussed major topics, such as cooperation in cracking down on illegal drugs with customs authorities from Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador and UNODC, while signing the Authorized Economic Operator-Mutual Recognition Arrangement (AEO MRA) with Cambodian and Egyptian customs authorities. 

The Korea Customs Week 2023 featured eight seminars, which brought together customs leaders from all over the world, officials of international organizations, professionals involved in the customs industry and experts from home and abroad to share the latest global customs trends.

The Customs Technology Exhibition took place from April 26 to 27 at the Shilla Hotel Seoul. 

A promotional booth was run throughout the event to showcase customs administration related equipment and companies and to promote Korea’s customs administration actively incorporating new technology. 

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