Under the umbrella of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum 2021 (WTO PF21), the World Customs Organization (WCO) hosted a panel session on 29 September 2021 focusing on recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain.
This year's Forum, entitled “Trade Beyond COVID-19: Building Resilience”, looked into the effects of the pandemic on trade and how the multilateral trading system could help build resilience to COVID-19 and future crises. Held in hybrid format, with participation in person and virtually, this three-day forum, which started on 28 September 2021, is the biggest public outreach event on the WTO calendar. Its 102 sessions, organised by civil society groups, academics, international organisations, the private sector, WTO Members and others, covered issues ranging from agriculture to digital trade, and from climate change to geopolitics.
The panel session hosted by the WCO “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain” was moderated by the President of the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU). It brought to the table high-level speakers from Customs administrations, Customs brokers associations, and international organisations, such as the WCO Secretary General, the Director General of the National Customs Authority of Panama, the Secretary of the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations (IFCBA), and the WTO Director of Trade and Environment.
The panel discussed some of the main challenges faced by Customs, as well as the opportunities offered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the tremendous growth of e-commerce. Ensuring the smooth flow of parcels across borders, while preventing illicit trade, has been a key objective of Customs during the pandemic. The speakers also debated what needed to be done to mitigate any obstacles to the further growth of e-commerce.
The panellists acknowledged as well that the automation process in Customs had been expedited, stressing that the momentum for digital transformation should be maintained once the pandemic was over.
They explored ways that resilience could remain a priority in a post-recovery scenario, and how Customs and supply chain stakeholders were responding to that need. The panellists also looked into initiatives, programmes and priorities to ensure an effective and equitable transition towards more inclusive, sustainable and greener supply chains.
More on the WTO Public Forum 2021 and its sessions, including WCO session No. 29 is accessible at: