Eminent Speakers’ Forum: Customs and Trade Facilitation in the 21st Century

Event | 4 June 2013 ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines

Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization, spoke at ADB on customs and trade facilitation in the 21st century.

About the speaker

Before taking up his position as Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) on 1 January 2009, Kunio Mikuriya spent seven years as the Organization's Deputy Secretary General. In this position he led efforts to coordinate the work of the WCO Secretariat with other international organizations such as the WTO to support the Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations, and the World Bank and other development banks to coordinate Customs reform projects, and with the private sector to develop Customs-Business Partnerships in support of transparency in trade. His current priority is securing and facilitating global trade through setting standards, sharing best practices, and providing assistance for capacity building in Customs. He has actively been championing the fight against corruption in Customs to showcase good governance in the public sector.

Prior to joining the WCO, he worked for Japan's Ministry of Finance for 25 years. During his career with the Ministry, Kunio Mikuriya occupied a variety of senior posts, which have given him broad experience and knowledge in Customs, trade, development, budget, and financial policies. He served as Director of Enforcement where he led efforts to fight illicit trade, then as Director of Research and International Affairs paving the way for the conclusion of the first regional trade agreement for Japan, and then as a Counsellor in the Tariff and Customs Bureau. He also served as Director of Salaries and Allowances to coordinate remuneration levels for the entire government workforce, and as the Budget Controller for Foreign Affairs, Official Aid, International Trade and Industry, in the Budget Bureau. In addition, he spent time as a Counsellor at the Japanese Mission to the WTO in Geneva and participated in the GATT Uruguay Round trade negotiations.

Kunio Mikuriya has a BA degree in law from the University of Tokyo (Japan) and a Ph. D in international relations from the University of Kent (United Kingdom).


The world has experienced substantial increases in trade volumes and complexities as a result of deepening globalization and the robust economic performance of emerging economies. International trade has undergone a transformation and a new landscape has emerged. It is characterized by vast improvements in shipping brought about by technological advances and cooperation among economies. Just-in-time delivery and low inventory retention, multimodal logistics services, and the increasing complexity of supply chain networks have added cumulative pressures to customs operations. Furthermore, mounting security threats and the need to counter illicit trade have increased the complexity of border risk management, creating additional challenges. These developments and changes have underscored the critical role of customs in international trade and have required customs administrations to further strengthen their competencies to carry out greater responsibilities and extended functions.

Responding to the challenges, customs authorities around the world are actively introducing customs modernization and trade facilitation and security measures in line with the strategic vision embodied in Customs in the 21st Century: Enhancing Growth and Development through Trade Facilitation and Border Security (C21). Furthermore, in 2012, WCO adopted the Economic Competitiveness Package, which was designed to strengthen economic competitiveness of countries in global markets through promoting comprehensive customs modernization and trade facilitation actions and best practices.

In 2010, ADB signed an MOU with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to build more active partnership to facilitate and secure trade, which in turn will support long-term, sustainable, and inclusive development, and further deepen economic integration in the region. Under the MOU, ADB's infrastructure finance and regional cooperation programs and WCO's technical customs competency will complement each other and improve the efficiency of our efforts to facilitate trade.

ADB works with the WCO through regional cooperation initiatives in Central Asia, the Greater Mekong Subregion, and South Asia. Since 2000, ADB has financed $210 million in loans and grants for customs modernization, trade facilitation, and trade security. ADB and WCO have collaborated on most of these interventions. Last year, policy-based concessional loans and grants were approved totaling about $48 million for the SASEC Trade Facilitation Program covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. The program, jointly prepared with WCO, is ADB's largest intervention to date in customs modernization and trade facilitation and security.

In April this year, ADB and WCO, together with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) co-organized the Asia and the Pacific and the Americas: Customs Leaders' Partnership Dialogue - Efficient and Secure Trade for Shared Prosperity in Panama where over 130 participants from 53 countries in the two regions and staff from ADB, IDB, WCO, and Panama Customs gathered to discuss and exchange views on key customs-related issues and challenges, as well as South-South cooperation opportunities between the two regions.

In ADB's forum, Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization, spoke on customs and trade facilitation in the 21st century. As ADB actively supports regional transport infrastructure and regional cooperation programs including customs modernization and trade facilitation, the forum provided an excellent opportunity for ADB staff to obtain first-hand information and to interact with him on recent developments and issues in customs and trade facilitation, particularly those affecting the Asia and the Pacific region.

Target participants

ADB personnel