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World Customs Organization Overview

As the lead U.S. agency engaged with the World Customs Organization (WCO), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for preparing U.S. positions on Customs matters and representing those at the WCO. Part of CBP's continued and regular activities related to the WCO include active involvement in the drafting and approval of best practices, guidelines and standards relating to international customs issues. In addition, CBP provides unparalleled training and technical assistance to the WCO in the development and delivery of its international capacity building programs.

Since 1952, the World Customs Organization (WCO), formally known by international convention as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC), has provided leadership in expanding the avenues of international trade and security. The WCO's accomplishments are both numerous and varied. The organization's successes include work in areas covering the development of global standards, the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures, trade supply chain security, the facilitation of international trade, the enhancement of Customs enforcement and compliance activities, anti-counterfeiting and piracy initiatives, public-private partnerships, integrity promotion, and sustainable global Customs capacity building activities. The WCO is the only international body dedicated exclusively to international customs and border control matters.

By following the above principles, the WCO has achieved many triumphs across the entire spectrum of customs-based issues. For example, the WCO created and administers several international agreements that facilitate and secure world trade. The major international conventions created or administered by the WCO include the:

  • Harmonized System Convention (the basis for the U.S. import and export schedules)
  • WTO Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin Agreements
  • Customs Convention on the ATA carnet for the temporary admission of goods (ATA Convention)
  • The International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention).

In June 2005, the WCO Council unanimously adopted the WCO's SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, a global standard-setting document related to the security and facilitation of the international supply chain which was supported by the United States and to a large degree based on the best practices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other like-minded WCO Members.