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  4. U.S. Announces Ian Saunders as U.S. Candidate for WCO Secretary General on International Customs Day

U.S. Announces Ian Saunders as U.S. Candidate for WCO Secretary General on International Customs Day

Release Date
Thu, 01/26/2023

WASHINGTON – The United States today joined customs administrations around the world to celebrate International Customs Day and the founding of the World Customs Organization, the only intergovernmental organization dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of customs administrations worldwide.

In the spirit of this important day, Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy A Miller formally announced that Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Saunders of the U.S. Department of Commerce is the official U.S. candidate for the position of Secretary General of the World Customs Organization.  Saunders’ vast career spans 30 years of work on international customs and trade issues.

“Visionary and skillful leadership is needed at the WCO as complex trade and security challenges proliferate around the globe,” Acting Commissioner Miller said.  “Ian Saunders is prepared to provide that leadership and ensure that the WCO remains effective, efficient, accountable and transparent moving forward.”

To mark the occasion of International Customs Day, CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement held a ceremony to commemorate the excellent work of employees and awarded 188 individuals with WCO certificates of merit.  Deputy Assistant Secretary Saunders served as the keynote speaker at the event.  

“The WCO is important for global trade because it’s the venue where the conversations happen about the guidelines and the rules that allow customs to manage international trade effectively,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Saunders said. “The WCO influences the day-to-day work of its members to maintain the safety of international trade and to keep legitimate goods moving.  Our support of the organization into the future can only help preserve and improve the standard of life enabled by trade.”

Every five years, WCO members elect a Secretary General to lead the organization and provide strategic direction.  The Secretary General is elected via secret ballot by a majority of the WCO Council, a body comprised of the heads of the 184 customs agencies that are members of the WCO.  The current WCO Secretary General is term-limited and the WCO Council will elect a new person to that position in June 2023.  No U.S. official has held the Secretary General position since the tenure of James Shaver, former U.S. Customs Service Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs, from 1994 to 1998.

Last Modified: Jan 26, 2023