The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952, represents 183 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.
All member countries of WCO celebrate International Customs day on 26th January every year with a slogan to commemorate the day. The WCO theme for this year is “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.
The year 2020, witnessed one of the worst pandemics this world has ever seen. COVID 19 has not just graved people’s lives but also jeopardized the ongoing businesses and trade of the world.
Trade through the sea experienced most critical times. The sea freight containers were stuck at different ports of the world.
Like many member countries of SCO to facilitate the Cross-border Movement of Relief and Essential Supplies, the Government of Pakistan waived all duties and taxes on the import of essential medicines and equipment necessary for containing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakistan also initiated 24/7 clearance of cargo at ports/airports and land borders stations, while ensuring expeditious clearance of medicines, food items, and equipment pertaining to treatment of COVID-19. Dedicated e-mail address was notified as a single contact facility to accommodate all trade related queries/grievances for redressal by the Customs authorities.
For Supporting the Economy and Sustaining Supply Chain Continuity, Pakistan Customs extended the period for filling for goods declarations.
The Pakistan Customs authorities were provided with an extra budget to protect the staff against the COVID-19 pandemic by the provision of masks, sanitizers and other essentials as instructed by the local health authorities. Screening and sanitizing facilities were made available at all the work places and staff above the age of 50 and those suffering from any underlying health conditions were relieved from physical appearance at the offices.
To ensure the spread of virus in all the offices (including field formations), plasma antibiotic tests were also conducted twice. In addition, the scope of meetings was also restricted to WEB conferences.
Following all the COVID-19 protocol, the Port Control Unit of MCC of Enforcement and compliance kept the vigilance to curb illicit trade of Drugs and Drug precursors.
In doing so, PCU seized 3.2 MTons of Acetic Anhydride, which is precursor for the manufacturing of Heroine, in the month of July, 2020. The cans of Acetic Anhydride were clandestinely packed in cans with labels of Laundry Liquid Soap. The estimated international value of the seized Acetic Anhydride is safely around 215,712,000/- Pak Rupees.
Later, in the month of September, 2020, Iodine was identified in the Transit Trade destined for Afghanistan. Iodine is a US DEA controlled list item. The 6 MTons of Iodine, which is used in manufacturing of Methamphetamine, was seized by the UNODC CCP Team and the US DEA agents in Afghanistan.
The International Narcotics Board also informed that the seized Iodine could have potentially produced 4.5 Metric Tons of Methamphetamine which according to UNODC survey reports has an international market value of 91.670 Billion Pak Rupees.
This unprecedented and remarkable exercise resulted in stopping the illicit flow of Millions of US Dollars from going into the hands and ultimate funding of terrorists organizations operating thereof.