International Customs Day 2024: Trade celebrates 'vital' role of customs workers

Fri 26 Jan 2024
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Today (26 January) is International Customs Day, a day where the world of international trade celebrates the hard work and dedication of customs officials around the world.

The event is held each year on 26 January to commemorate the inaugural session of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in 1953.

This year, the WCO is focusing on “Customs engaging traditional and new partners with purpose”, a day centred around how the industry works with both long-standing partnerships and builds new alliances to survive in a changing world.

Previous iterations of the day have focused on nurturing the next generation of customs officials, scaling up the industry’s digital transformation and how customs could bolster the economic recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Vital role

Anna Doherty, senior trade and customs specialist at Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), said the event was the perfect time to reflect on the importance of customs professionals:

“It is an important day in international trade. It reflects the importance of customs professionals and their expertise to helping imports and exports flow across borders every day. Without these diligent people, businesses would struggle to trade.

“Building on existing alliances and partnerships is just as important as creating new ones and I hope that this message of collaboration continues throughout the year.”

Marco Forgione, director general IOE&IT said:

“Recent changes, such as the upcoming Border Target Operating Model, are proving just how important the customs community is to global trade and not just in relation to the UK.

“We don't often think about how the goods we rely on gets to us, and it is hardworking customs professionals who ensure the free flow of products.”

New documentary requirements are being introduced for EU businesses sending animal and plant products into the UK from 31 January, with border checks beginning in April.

Embrace change

Ian Saunders, secretary general of WCO, said that the day was an opportunity to broaden horizons, think creatively and embrace change, as customs workers maintain their function in facilitating global trade.

He added:

“This year, we are embarking on a path that challenges us to both reaffirm our long-standing partnerships and to boldly forge new alliances.

“Our world has changed dramatically over the last decade and continues to do so, presenting us with unprecedented challenges, including rapid technological advances, environmental and health crises, and complex geopolitical and economic dynamics.”

Worldwide celebration

Customs and border agencies around the world, from Canada to Pakistan and Kenya to the Virgin Islands, are all celebrating the occasion, with many noting the importance of how the industry keeps their respective countries safe and protects many industries, such as agriculture, from potentially harmful diseases.

The Australian Border Force and Fijian Revenue and Customs Service highlighted their work together on strengthening security and information sharing, while Bermuda held a special ceremony earlier in the week, commemorating the customs officers who have died in the line of duty.

Key players in the maritime industry also celebrated the event, with Maersk paying tribute to the customers officers who “serve and protect our borders.”