Friday (29/01/2021) – Commemorating International Customs Day, Directorate General of Customs and Excise (DGCE) of the Republic of Indonesia held International Customs Day (ICD) Virtual Gathering with a theme “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain.” ICD Virtual Gathering was organized through the online platform and attended by the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, WCO Secretary General, Head of Echelon I Unit of Ministry of Finance,  Head of RILO A/P, Jakarta based Customs Attaché, the representatives of WCO Asia Pacific Members, association and stakeholder, and Indonesia Customs Officials. This event aims to increase the sociability of Customs community and related stakeholders despite the limitation of physical contact.

The main purposes of the agenda of the event were the virtual signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the WCO and DGCE regarding the establishment of a WCO Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL), the virtual signing of the MoU between the WCO and the Indonesia Customs and Excise Education and Training Centerregarding the establishment of a WCO Regional Training Centre (RTC), and the awarding of WCO Certificates of Merit to internal Customs officials and external stakeholders.

Director General of Customs and Excise of the Republic of Indonesia, Heru Pambudi, conveyed that nowadays Customs is busy dealing with the vaccine's distribution. It's also important to emphasize that to organize the vaccine's distribution is a very challenging task. In Indonesia, a regulation regarding Customs and Excises facilities, as well as taxes facilities on the vaccine importation has been issued to ensure the smooth clearance and proper treatment of the vaccines. This regulation is in line with the December 2020 Council Resolution on the Role of Customs in Facilitating the Cross-Border Movement of Situationally Critical Medicines and Vaccines. In addition, Heru emphasized that in the context of WCO cooperation, it is crucial to enhance collaboration between Members, other international agencies, and private sectors in order to gain a clear view of respective challenges and to develop policies that are fit to purpose.

"With the joint efforts and hard work of WCO members, as well as the guidance from the WCO Secretariat, I am confident that we will overcome the crisis", he added.

WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, showed his sincere gratitude to the great leadership of Mr. Heru Pambudi as a WCO Asia Pacific Vice-Chairman. Kunio Mikuriya agreed that collaboration is important for the recovery, thus Customs should embrace technological advantages and innovative approaches for renewal of Customs system and supply chain.

"We also aim at the strengthening resilience of customs by building preparedness of people for facing any other unpredictable situations (including pandemic) in the future. Therefore investing in Human Resources has become more important in the current environment", he conveyed.

Mikuriya added that traditional face to face communication nowadays is unfortunately not feasible. Thus organization need to adapt to the new normal to deliver technical and capacity building assistance. Even though there are many virtual and important events had to be organized web-based, it has to be noted that they offered an opportunity to reach out more broad audience. Furthermore, Mikuriya appreciated the strong support given by Indonesian government that showed great initiative and preparedness of Indonesia Customs and Excise Education and Training Center and Indonesia Customs Laboratories to become WCO Regional Entities. He convinced that the regional members be will benefit from Indonesian Customs which hosts regional structure to  enchance the connectivity in the region while ensuring effective coordination with other regional entities.

In her keynote speech, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, conveyed that during this challenging time, the role of Customs is extremely crucial. Not only to facilitate the movement of relief goods, Customs should also protect the people from dangerous and illegal goods, including counterfeited medicines or vaccines, while at the same time supporting the economic recovery. Regardless of how challenging the situation is, the prominent role of DGCE as part of international supply chain stakeholders to promote seamless global trade has never been neglected. The Minister of Finance also expressed her congratulations to Indonesia Customs and Excise Education and Training Center and Indonesia Customs Laboratories which have been recognized by the WCO and endorsed as Regional Training Center and Regional Customs Laboratory.

"I believe that the establishment of these regional entities will immensely contribute to building the capacity of Customs Administration in the Asia Pacific", she added.

Sri Mulyani also congratulated the WCO awarded Certificates of Merit to Customs officials and representatives from other government agencies who have demonstrated their commitment.

She then concluded, "It is unlikely that COVID-19 will be the last health-related crisis we face, there might be other crisis or challenges that will arise in the future. Being adaptive and responsive is the key to successfully overcoming the pandemic or similar challenges to come."

With this event, DGCE has again proven its active role in international affairs. As a WCO Asia Pacific Vice-Chair, DGCE is one step ahead in realizing its vision to be the world's leading customs and excise administration. Happy International Customs Day!