n January 26, the global customs and international trade communities commemorated the 41st International Customs Day (ICD). The theme was Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose. The annual event highlights the evolving role of customs operations in today’s global environment.The activities associated with international trade have evolved substantially since the inaugural ICD in 1983, both in terms of volume and complexity. As international volumes grow, so too comes growth in the creativity of criminal minds who engage in smuggling, terrorist, money laundering and counterfeit activities associated therewith. While illicit traders continue to find ways of bypassing the risk management and enforcement controls, customs administrations have equally become more resilient, smarter, and better equipped with regard to processes, procedures, insights and technologies in order to mitigate and repudiate such illicit activities. As we commemorate ICD 2024 alongside Sars, it’s essential to acknowledge the forward-thinking approach taken by the South African customs administration five years ago, through Sars Vision 2024. By embracing purpose-driven partnerships aligned with the revenue service’s strategic objectives, particularly objectives 8 and 2, the administration has prioritised collaborating with stakeholders to enhance the tax ecosystem and simplify compliance for taxpayers and traders.In my opinion, Sars customs stands out as one of the most forward-thinking customs administrations, not only in Africa but globally too. This recognition is not only attributed to its modernised systems, its enhanced alignment with W T O -T FA , its adoption of the WCO-RKC, and the improvements made to its efficient risk management processes, but also to the mature approach that Sars Customs takes in engaging both traditional and new partners with a clear purpose.There is a significant contingent of South African traders, both locally and internationally established, who are compliantly engaging in legitimate trade for the benefit of our economy, thereby enhancing revenue collection and increasing active economic participation. Such traders should not be repetitively subjected to the same level of scrutiny and risk enforcement as a potentially illicit trader. Where it’s still necessary to enforce risk management, in such cases, the enforcement should be efficient, using the relevant avenues such as post facto audits, entity and transactional risk differentials aligned with the standards of the World Customs Organization’s ( WC O ’s) revised Kyoto Convention – the WCO-RKC – to which South Africa acceded on April, 20 2004. Standard 6.5 of the WCO-RKC provides that customs shall adopt a compliance measurement strategy to support risk management, while standard 6.6 provides that customs control systems shall include audit-based controls. Article 10.4 of the WTO-TFA (the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement) provides for the adoption of a single window system that allows traders to submit documentation and data requirements at a single-entry point – either physical or electronic – to fulfil all import- or export-related regulatory requirements. This is a fundamental trade-facilitation reform as a single window (SW) facility will expedite and simplify procedures to submit documents and data requirements to government agencies.It is therefore essential for customs administrations and other regulatory bodies to perform coordinated risk profiling and have an integrated single view to avoid duplicative processes, additional costs and delays to supply chains in our developing economy. Dr Juanita Maree, CEO of Saaff, often reminds us that supply chains are predicated on service reliability, cost, and time efficiencies. Business needs to be supported by efficient risk management processes, and it is therefore admirable to note the progressive purpose and maturity with which Sars is enhancing efficiencies through frequent and inclusive dialogue with all business stakeholders, catalysing coordinated interventions with both traditional and new partners to facilitate legitimate trade. Ef f icienc y, reliabilit y, predictability and transparency are all key outcomes that emanate from the purpose-driven engagements, which are underpinned by a level of maturity from both business and customs.