ICAO–WCO Joint Conference Hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain Prioritizes Air Cargo Security and Facilitation
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO)completed a joint conference on air cargo
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO)completed a joint conference on air cargo security and facilitation held under the patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Interior Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and hosted by the Ministry of Transportation’s Civil Aviation Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior’s Customs Affairs which was attended by ICAO Secretary General Mr. Raymond Benjamin and WCO Secretary General Mr. Kunio Mikuriya as well as the Director General of the Universal Postal Union.
The conference reinforced a common message that a secure and efficient air cargo supply chain is essential for international trade and world economic development. The conference brought together over 300 participants – including senior policy makers, experts and practitioners – from 42 countries as well as representatives from more than 50 international and regional organizations and industry stakeholders and presentations from more than 25 speakers.
During the conference closing remarks, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa Customs Affairs President stated "With the rapid growth witnesses by the air cargo industry, it is important to increase efforts and enhance cooperation between the customs and civil aviation authorities on a national, regional, and international level and by involving industry stakeholders in order to ensure the safe flow of cargo".
His Excellency Acting Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs Mr. Ahmed Al Nemah also reiterated the importance of joint cooperation in his remark adding “It is paramount that all organizations – Ministry of Transportation’s Civil Aviation Affairs, Ministry of Interior’s Customs Affairs ICAO, and WCO - increase their cooperation to achieve security goals set by ICAO specifically those specified in Annex 17 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and other related security documents”. Mr Al Nemah concluded his remark by expressing his thanks and appreciation to both organizations for choosing the Kingdom of Bahrain to be the host of this important conference.
In his statement, the ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin commented “ICAO has been very encouraged by recent joint efforts to make civil aviation more secure, especially in the air cargo and related supply chain areas with our colleagues from the WCO. We are also pleased to see the complementary focus being placed by all concerned on improving the facilitation of air cargo, especially in light of the fact that world airlines carry close to 50 million tonnes of freight per year, or approximately one-third of all international trade by value.”
ICAO and the WCO took advantage of the Bahrain gathering to reinforce their priorities relating to the implementation of a global secure supply chain, taking into account the diversity of goods transported by air, the vast number of entities involved in the supply chain, and the practical realities of trying to streamline transnational operations in the face of multiple regulatory environments.
The Conference discussed a number of national and regional cooperation models between civil aviation and customs authorities and called on States to intensify regional and national cooperation between authorities. Solutions agreed included the coordinated implementation of risk-based and outcomes-focused international air cargo and mail security measures adaptable to local circumstances.
The Conference also supported the streamlining of global supply chain documentation and processes to benefit both security and facilitation objectives. It welcomed some promising `e-freight` and ‘single-window’ initiatives in this regard, and considered that advance cargo information, by contributing to risk assessments for cargo and mail, could assist in applying timely and appropriate security controls earlier in the supply chain.
In considering the interconnected nature of the air cargo supply chain, the Conference recommended undertaking feasibility studies, impact assessments and operational pilot projects to evaluate innovative processes. ICAO and the WCO further agreed that their cooperation should be expanded beyond efforts to enhance aviation security and facilitation, mainly so that they could advance separate air cargo and mail objectives in the areas of dangerous goods, economic development and environmental protection.