WCO and UPU boost e-commerce through enhanced Customs–Post cooperation

The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) have consolidated their commitment to facilitating global trade and transport through the signature of a Joint Declaration at the first WCO–UPU Global Conference, held in Tokyo from 6 to 8 June 2023 and hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan Customs and Japan Post. The declaration sets out common objectives in the areas of digitalization, data exchange, supply chain security and capacity building.

The conference brought together more than 600 high-level officials, policymakers and operational experts from Customs and postal communities, academic institutions and partner organizations from over 100 countries. Around half of the participants took part in person, with the other half connecting to the event online. The conference, organized as the first significant step under a Cooperation Agreement signed by the two organizations in May 2022, offered a platform to exchange information, experiences, expertise and best practices, while increasing awareness of the Customs and postal regulatory frameworks, mandates and available instruments and tools.

Under the overall theme of “Challenges and opportunities for cross-border e-commerce through Customs and postal cooperation”, participants deliberated on various topics relating to common challenges and cooperation opportunities between Customs, Posts, government authorities and wider sector stakeholders. These topics included electronic advance data (EAD) and policy standardization and harmonization.

Implementing EAD with reliable quality, leveraging digitization and technology, and achieving greater synergy at all levels were identified as key factors in ensuring improved Customs procedures, increased compliance and the greater efficiency, safety and security of the global postal chain.

The Joint Declaration reiterates a clear commitment to enhanced cooperation and coordination between the WCO and the UPU, and their Members, setting out the common objectives of facilitating trade and transport while interconnecting the world and protecting the public from the risks posed by illegal and dangerous goods. The declaration was signed by Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the WCO, and Mr Masahiko Metoki, UPU Director General.

At the closing ceremony, Dr Mikuriya noted the significance of the conference and its policy-related and operational recommendations, stating that both Customs and Posts have a critical role in securing and facilitating legitimate global trade. He expressed the WCO’s willingness to work more closely with the UPU to meet the expectations of all stakeholders, so as to ensure a smooth, safe and secure postal supply chain that operates in a harmonized and efficient manner.

Mr Metoki underlined the importance of maintaining the momentum created by the conference, so that participants can use this experience to benefit their customers and contribute to the improvement of public and private services around the world. Calling the Joint Declaration a symbol of the partners’ shared commitment, he expressed his hope that it would help them to maintain motivation in order to tackle many further challenges in the future.

On the occasion of their visit to Tokyo, Dr Mikuriya and Mr Metoki met with H.E. Mr Fumio Kishida, the Prime Minister of Japan, on 5 June to express their appreciation for Japan’s hosting of the Global Conference and to discuss matters of mutual interest. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his continued and strong support for the activities of both the WCO and the UPU.

To learn more about WCO–UPU cooperation and to access the full text of the Joint Declaration signed in Tokyo, click here.

To view event photos, click here.

The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC), is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. Today, the WCO represents 185 Customs administrations across the globe, which collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. As the global centre of Customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community.

Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with its headquarters in the Swiss capital of Berne, is the United Nations specialized agency for the postal sector and the world's second oldest international organization. With 192 member countries, the UPU is the primary forum for postal cooperation between governments, Posts, regulators and other postal sector stakeholders, helping to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services. In this way, the organization fulfils an advisory, mediation and liaison role, and provides technical assistance where needed. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations to stimulate the growth of mail, parcel and financial service volumes and to improve quality of service for customers.

Universal Postal Union
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Ekaterina Sitnikova
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World Customs Organization
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Ludovic Thanay
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