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Celebrating International Customs Day 2024: Facilitating global trade and security

Customs officials help to ensure the efficient movement of goods between nations, facilitating a key role in international trade. They also contribute to secure trade and are responsible for implementing and enforcing customs laws and regulations, collecting duties and taxes, and preventing the illegal movement of goods, such as counterfeit products and prohibited items.

Held every year on January 26th, International Customs Day highlights the key contributions of customs administrations across the world. The World Customs Organization (WCO) organizes the event on behalf of 185 member nations, representing more 98% of international trade. 

Origins of International Customs Day

International Customs Day marks the establishment of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) on January 26, 1953. The CCC would eventually turn into the current WCO. In 1983, the WCO held the first International Customs Day, which would become an annual event celebrated globally.

International Customs Day is a reminder of the critical role customs administrations perform around the world. Customs officials help to facilitate global trade, contribute to greater to border security, and contribute to economic relations and development. 131087033_worldmap

Highlighting the contributions of customs officials is part of the event. Addressing customs and trade challenges with collaborative action is another goal of International Customs Day.

One of the main goals of the WCO focuses on improving the efficiency and success of customs administrators in member countries. An annual event also reminds the international trade community to seize opportunities to create a more sustainable, secure, and prosperous trading system across the globe.

International Customs Day themes

Every year, the WCO determines a theme that reflects and current challenges and priorities that customs administrations experience. Declaring an annual theme is meant to spark conversations, collaboration, and initiatives to help solve issues and improve the effectiveness of the customs community. Themes commonly revolve around customs challenges ranging from security and trade facilitation to environmental sustainability and technology.

What is the theme of International Customs Day 2024?

The WCO has dedicated 2024 to the theme of “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose.” Members are encouraged to showcase the different ways they contribute to the success of the theme.

Previous International Customs Day themes over the past decade include:

2023 - Nurturing the next generation
2022 - Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation
2021 - Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience
2020 - Customs fostering Sustainability
2019 - SMART borders
2018 - A secure business environment
2017 - Data Analysis
2016 - Digital Customs
2015 - Coordinated Border Management
2014 - Communication
2013 - Innovation

What are the main objectives of customs officials?

Trade facilitation – One of the primary objectives of customs organizations is the facilitation of international trade by minimizing bureaucratic barriers while streamlining key customs procedures. Efficient processes contribute to the prompt clearance of goods, which reduces delivery times and for companies that engage in international trade.

Tariff collection – Customs also collect tariffs and taxes on imported goods, and sometimes on exported items. Part of the process of collecting tariffs involves classifying products according to HS codes, ensuring that the taxes charged align with Customs Tariff Acts and regulations.

Border security – Customs administrations perform a vital role in maintaining border security. Officials help to prevent the illegal movement of dangerous goods, such as narcotics and weapons. Customs also keep an eye out for counterfeit products that can pose threats to public safety and negatively affect local businesses. Collaboration between customs authorities, local and international law enforcement groups rely on customs to address security challenges that involve imported goods.

The future of customs

Technology has transformed the way customs administrations operate. Automation, electronic data exchange, and risk management tools have helped to make customs processes more transparent and efficient. Tech innovation will continue to be a crucial aspect for customs to keep pace with the constantly evolving nature of global trade and security challenges.

Experienced customs brokers stay on top of the latest customs trends and changes, taking proactive steps to ensure your compliance at the border. Connect with Cole to find out more.

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