The World Customs Organization (WCO) is the only international body dedicated to developing and implementing customs standards and instruments. Through tools such as the Harmonized System and the SAFE Framework of Standards, the WCO and its 180+ members lower the costs of trade, facilitate the cross-border movement of essential goods, and protect society from unsafe products.
The United States joined the WCO in 1970 and is a leading contributor of capacity building and technical expertise to the organization and its members. As the agency responsible for representing the United States at the WCO, CBP coordinates these activities and plays a leading role in the development and implementation of best practices, guidelines and standards relating to international customs issues
The WCO Secretariat has a staff of approximately 200 and manages about two dozen working bodies. CBP coordinates U.S. representation in the organization, in formal staff positions and also leadership roles in the various working bodies through collateral duty. In addition, CBP experts support WCO enforcement operations - such as STOP, TENTACLE, and THUNDER - that protect consumers from illicit and unsafe goods.
In June 2022, Commissioner Magnus announced CBP’s intent to nominate U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Saunders to serve as the next Secretary General of the WCO. If elected by the WCO Council in June 2023, Saunders will become the first American official to serve as WCO Secretary General since 1999.