The latest version of CENcomm, a communication system designed to allow a closed group of users to exchange messages in real time via encrypted channels during an operation or a project, until then only available in English, French and Russian, is now also available in Spanish thanks to funding support from Japan. The release of this new version in Spanish coincides with the launch of a new Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Central America, based in Guatemala and serving six (6) Spanish-speaking countries. The exchange of information, intelligence, alerts and seizures at the national, regional and international levels is an essential activity in the fight against illicit trafficking. The World Customs Organization (WCO) was very quick to understand this, and in 2005 it developed the CENcomm secure communication tool.
Encouraged by the popularity of CENcomm and eager to meet users’ expectations, the WCO deployed in 2020 a more sophisticated version of the application. It incorporates new features that take advantage of the latest technologies on the market. The addition of Spanish to the CENcomm communication tool will increase the participation of Spanish-speaking users in the area of the exchange of information and intelligence, and will further reduce language barriers, thereby enabling CENcomm to fulfil its mission as a global communication tool for enforcement agencies.
The 20th Meeting of the Administrative Committee for the Convention on Temporary Admission (Istanbul Convention) and the 17th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Convention) were held jointly on 15 and 16 November 2021 in a hybrid mode allowing for remote participation with the KUDO application and on-site participation at World Customs Organization (WCO) headquarters in Brussels. Due to the unprecedented situation marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of the report will be done via the CLiKC! platform and by email in the coming days. Delegates from 33 Contracting Parties to the Istanbul Convention and 34 Contracting Parties to the ATA Convention, as well as 14 observers and 5 international organizations registered, and the meeting was attended by approximately 80 delegates.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) has become a new participant of both the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and ITA Expansion (ITA II), making it the first least developed country to join these agreements.
WTO members considered two requests for dispute panels at a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 29 November. The European Union requested a panel to examine Russian measures affecting EU access to commercial procurement by state-related entities, while Costa Rica requested a panel to review the Dominican Republic’s anti-dumping duties on corrugated steel bars from Costa Rica.
Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala received on 24 November Turkmenistan’s official application to join the WTO under Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization. It has requested that the application be placed before the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference, taking place from 30 November to 3 December, for consideration and for a decision to be taken.
The WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by the European Union in “United States — Anti-dumping and countervailing duties on ripe olives from Spain” (DS577).
Brazil has requested WTO dispute consultations with the European Union regarding EU measures impacting the importation of certain poultry meat preparations from Brazil. The request was circulated to WTO members on 11 November.
The World Customs Organization (WCO), with the support of the Saudi Tax and Customs Authority, held a virtual regional workshop on the amendments to the HS 2022 for the Customs administrations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Some 30 high-ranking officials specializing in tariff classification-related areas attended the workshop which was co-facilitated by a Senior Technical Officer from the WCO Secretariat and by an accredited expert from the MENA region. The workshop’s main focus was to secure uniformity in the interpretation and application of the HS 2022 Nomenclature by the Customs administrations of the MENA region. Comprehensive explanations regarding the scope of the HS 2022 amendments were presented, along with the background to their development. Furthermore, the workshop offered an opportunity to discuss the WCO tools and instruments developed to assist users of the HS in modernizing their tariff classification work and related infrastructure. The workshop gave the participants an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the HS 2022 amendments by their respective administrations. Some administrations presented examples of the transposition into their national nomenclature of particular amendments featured in the Council Recommendation of 28 June 2019.
The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for networking and exchanging views on a wide range of topics in tariff classification and management of tariff and statistical nomenclatures, and was highly appreciated by those who attended.
The 2021 edition of the Advanced Course on Tax and Customs Administration Management started on 17 November 2021. This course is a joint initiative between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through its Technical Assistance Center for Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic (CAPTAC-DR); the Institute of Fiscal Studies of Spain (IEF), with the collaboration of the National Distance Education University (UNED), the WCO and with the support of the SECO-WCO Global Trade Facilitation Programme (GTFP).
With a comprehensive 14-week programme divided into two phases, online and presential, this course will run until June 2022. It has been designed with the aim of covering a long-demanded need in different Central American countries, in order to provide Tax and Customs Administrations managers in the region with the necessary tools and skills to be able to lead their organisations and achieve their objectives through efficient management.
Strengthening the management function is a crucial element for the development of Customs Administrations. In that sense, this course targets officials from the Tax and Customs Administrations of Panama and the Dominican Republic who hold managerial positions, to provide them with the basic training necessary to manage a modern tax and/or customs administration with a focus on promoting voluntary compliance. This edition will also see the participation of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru and will have a particular focus on the capacity and skills to lead and manage situations of uncertainty, such as the current one.