This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

Ahead of the launch of the UK’s first online Customs Academy, we spoke to several experts in the field about the importance of professional Customs skills and knowledge.

In this video, we speak to Arne Mielken, the Young President of the Institute of Export & International Trade, about the importat role Customs professionals play in 21st Century life.

To find out more about the qualifications and resources provided by the UK Customs Academy, please visit:

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Hi my name is Arne I am the Young President of the Institute of Export & International Trade. I’m so excited to be here to speak to you today.

Just look around you. Global Trade is everywhere. From the laptop you may have bought from Japan to the American car that you drive to the iPhone you hold in your hand that may have been designed in California and made in China, even the food that we eat. In today’s connected world, with ever-advancing technologies, I can order something from someone the other side world in a matter of seconds and this has profound consequences.

Distances now matter less, borders matter less, expectation and demand grow. When we order today, we expect it tomorrow, often forgetting that goods have to move half way across the world in order end up at our doorstep.

So, no matter how you want it, trade is always part of everyday life now.

The importance of Customs Professionals

Now while the explosion of importing and exporting in the 21st century is spectacular, what is even more spectacular is how this is made possible. It’s a fascinating and complex network of actors including freight agents, importers, brokers and exporters and if they don’t work in sync and trust each other then goods don’t move across the world.

The central element in this amazing group of people is the person who most often gets forgotten, a person who is essential, and without him or her, goods would simply get stuck at the border. I’m of course talking about an individual who is a multitalented superstar, someone who is a leader, a coach, a project manager, an auditor, a finance controller, a networker, an influencer and, of course, a subject matter expert. Their job is to ensure compliance and the reliable, efficient and expedient cross border movements of goods.

Say hello to the Customs Manager – or Global Trade Professional.

The importance of skills in Customs

Although they are so vital to the success of any global trading company, the Customs and Global Trade Professional – CGT! – is often an afterthought in business planning. Employees often fall into such a role by accident or get dumped the Customs clearance responsibilities as part of a wider job, often without proper training or deeper understanding.

Now you will agree with me that this is a problem. In today’s global world Customs managers cannot be an afterthought.

How we empower Customs Professionals

It’s not good enough for a company to provide ad hoc training here and there, Customs managers need to be empowered. No matter where you are in the world or big your business, successful Global Trade professionals and Customs managers need to have, in my opinion, three essential elements to be successful.

1. Stay up-to-date with the regulations

In today’s world organisations buying or selling goods globally are overwhelmed with complexity and the mountain of legal ease and red tape required to maintain and establish compliance with government regulations – it’s simply too much. It requires daily controls and checks and that takes time and becomes impossible when you are sending goods to many countries around the world.

How do you know what rules changed in the US overnight? Who has the time to do endless hours of research to find out what news is relevant to me and what I need to do in my company today?

The first thing Customs professionals need help with is staying up-to-date with the relevant regulations.

2. Training – continual learning

The second essential element is of course training. We need to do better than overload customs managers with one-day training here and there. We need continuous education based on a leading Customs and Global Trade curriculum developed by leading Customs Professionals and even, dare I say it, leading Customs officials themselves. A curriculum that allows them to develop the skills they need to perform their everyday tasks.

In this way, by providing continual training and education, they develop awareness, competence and, crucially, confidence to teach mentor coach and inspire others.

3. Support

The third element is, of course, support, and this can take any form from assistance with a project or just being able to bounce ideas of each other. This could mean creating SOPs, guidance documents, dealing with Customs classification, valuation and origin, helping with applications for special procedure authorisation, export controls, AEO or FTAs.

So, in short Customs managers need more than one-off consultancy they need to be always supported when the going gets tough.

Join the Customs Academy today!

These three essentials – always staying up-to-date, continual learning, always being supported – need to be available not only to the company, but to the individual Customs Manager and Global Trade professionals so that no matter where they go in their career, the support system goes with them. It’s in this way that the Customs Managers of the 21st century not only become and get empowered, they stay empowered throughout their careers.

This is really important because only in this way will we uplift the Customs and Global Trade profession globally and create an exciting career path for new job seekers, a job that they want to do.

So, join us! If you wish to create the world’s largest community of Customs Managers and Global Trade professionals, please join the Customs Academy.