The World Customs Organization (WCO), an intergovernmental organization based in Brussels, was established in 1952 under the name Customs Cooperation Council. Today it has 178 members from Customs administrations across the world.
Its mission is to improve the effectiveness of Customs administration by, for example, creating international instruments for the harmonization of Customs systems and effective communication between its member states. To fulfil this mission, WCO develops and administers various international instruments, tools and standards for the harmonization and uniform application of simplified and effective Customs systems and procedures governing the cross-border movement of commodities, people and means of transport. It also provides capacity building and technical assistance to Members as a means of support to their modernization efforts.
WCO's Work Related to Trade Facilitation
Trade facilitation, in the WCO context, means the avoidance of unnecessary trade restrictions. The WCO argues that this can be achieved by applying modern techniques and technologies, while improving the quality of controls in an internationally harmonized manner. A key trade facilitation instrument of the WCO is the Kyoto Convention for Harmonizing Customs Procedures that came into force in 1974, and which was followed by the Revised Kyoto Convention in 1999. Other important instruments include the Harmonized System, and the SAFE Framework. A selection of WCO's most important conventions, methods, standards and capacity-building programmes are presented in the main parts of this Guide.