WCO is the premier body of 183 member countries providing leadership, support and guidance to Customs administrations in order to have a secure, prosperous and livable world. The WCO has dedicated 2020 to promote sustainability under the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

It is an acknowledged fact that borders divide and Customs connects. However, to cope effectively with multi-faceted and complex challenges at regional and international level, it is imperative that simultaneous efforts are made for ensuring a sustainable society from the perspectives of social development, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Importance/significance of the said theme can be gauged from the fact that the Customs’ pursuit for fostering social/economic/environmental sustainability is a milestone towards achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goods (SDG) outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Even before enunciation of SGDs, United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development has emphasized upon achievement in these spheres which – in contemporary literature – are identified as the Triple-Bottom-Line (3BL).

Needless to say that international trade has brought economic prosperity and opened many new vistas but this necessitates that trade flows must be kept afloat with the help of modern technology and innovative ideas. Customs is in fact the first line of defense against illicit movement of cargo across borders, putting on its shoulder the responsibility of keeping global supply chain intact and safe. However, highly globalized trade has posed serious challenges to the customs administrations in the world. From the social perspective, the challenges, inter alia, are; prevention of substandard/counterfeit goods; fighting against transnational organized crime and terrorism; taking action against the trafficking of people/drugs/weapon; effectively controlling money laundering. From the economic dimension, the challenges are; ensuring resilient/prosperous economy; reduction of time and cost of moving goods across borders; stimulate trade activities; taking strong action against commercial fraud and tax evasion; strengthening governance. Environmental sustainability involve challenges like: fight against climate change; effective implementation of various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs); curb illicit trade in hazardous waste; control over ozone-depleting substances; combating illicit trade in endangered species; preventing the spread of plant and animal diseases.

As an active member of international customs community, Pakistan too is celebrating International Customs day on 26th January, 2020. It is an occasion to highlight efforts of Pakistan Customs in promotion of international trade and enforcement of border controls to ensure: security and development of society (as a whole); economic prosperity; environmental protection. To this end, Pakistan Customs is ensuring availability of detailed and quality data on goods that are traded in the international market. Secondly, implementation is being done of the provisions of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol, the Cartagena Protocol, the Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention, the World Heritage Convention, and the CITES Convention for fight against climate change and provide environmental sustainability. Pakistan Customs has also embarked upon enlargement of the “Digital Customs” agenda with greater emphasis on the use of modern technologies, including a high-performance paperless Single Window environment and a solid IT infrastructure facilitating enhanced data exchanges and the adoption of sophisticated tools and standards. Pakistan Customs has made tangible achievements in curbing counterfeiting and piracy which has gone a long way in preventing unfair competition and creating an environment where innovation and creativity can thrive. In order to fully accomplish all the afore-stated objectives, Pakistan Customs has maintained/enhanced a robust and sustained engagement/partnership mechanism with the business community.

In the end, I sincerely felicitate Pakistan Customs and the international Customs community on the occasion of International Customs Day and look forward to work in close coordination with them to achieve the common objective of sustainable future where social, economic, and environmental needs are at the core of viable actions.

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