Education in Trade and Customs Procedures

There are many reasons why people might want to become familiar with the subject of international trade and customs. For customs officials and their counterparts within the private sector there is the WCO PICARD Standard to draw upon. A number of universities around the world offer accredited programmes. Most of those universities are also members of the International Network of Customs Universities.

Many administrations around the world also provide for dedicated customs academies, colleges and universities. Practitioners may also consider trade and customs modules linked to other professional development programmes where knowledge of trade and customs procedures is critical – e.g export managers, logistics professionals, tax accountants, procurement officers, economists, civil servants, amongst others.

As a qualified lecturer I have helped develop, implement and deliver a wider range of programmes and training solutions at various institutions. This includes Master programmes at the University of Nottingham and the University of M√ľnster. Frequently, I am also asked to deliver bespoke seminars and workshops for trade officials, officers and policy makers. Within the context of the UK’s departure from the European Union I also designed and help deliver much of Ireland’s customs training for its SME business community. The practical benefit of those training workshops were featured in the Irish edition of The Sunday Times and feedback from participants was excellent throughout.

For students and practitioners there are also a wide range of online training providers to call upon. The International Trade Centre and the World Customs Organisations are two examples of many. For those in need of a comprehensive overview or introduction to cross-border logistics operations – including applicable trade and customs procedures and underlying policy – I have written a dedicated textbook which can be purchased at most major bookshops.

At Trade Facilitation Consulting we frequently deliver bespoke training solutions for executives, policy makers and practitioners around the world. Often we will produce and write educational materials for third parties, too. Furthermore, training and mentoring services are regularly called upon in the delivery of trade facilitation solutions.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you wish to discuss further.

Measuring Trade Facilitation

Over the years I have been involved in various initiatives that seek to measure trade facilitation and the impact of non-tariff measures (NTM). Early work focused on the direct costs associated with trade and customs procedures. This includes, for example, a very detailed study at the University of Nottingham with focus on UK/EU meat imports in collaboration with the International Meat Trade Association and the UK Port Health Association. More recently, this was extended to explore the impact of NTMs on UK food and agricultural supply chains for DEFRA. In collaboration with the Technical University Delft we also conducted extensive descriptive work – published in the World Customs Journal – that sought to highlight the many costs (direct and indirect) that arise in cross-border logistics operations.

Increasingly, the need to measure trade facilitation is also of prime importance for trade officials and policy makers. This is because the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement allows its members to hold each other accountable to their respective performance in cross-border logistics operations. There are many stakeholders involved and the trick is to work out how their respective costs and benefits that are derived from trade facilitation type interventions can be appropriately assessed. Key to note is that impact narratives might differ significantly from one organisation to the next.

With my good colleague and friend Duncan Shaw we presented an outline of an appropriate methodology at the 2017 WCO Picard Conference in Tunis. There we received very encouraging feedback and subsequently shared our thoughts in an article for WCO News. That work has continued in the form of an impact assessment for the GIZ of Montenegro’s new pre-arrival processing capabilities. What was really nice about the GIZ project was that it also allowed us to explore Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for specific impact themes that were important to stakeholders.

As highlighted in the subsequent article for WCO News, it is not all about economic benefits (though important). It is also about evaluating the alignment of trade facilitation measures with international best practices, the operational outcomes for the administrations and businesses concerned, learning, and impacts for society at large. The later also includes improved control outcomes that may be achieved in addition to any cost savings.

Please feel free to reach out. I am always happy to elaborate and discuss our work further.

“The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement can deliver large trade dividends..”

This is the headline of the WTO’s Press Release for its annual flagship World Trade Report publication. Apart from the significant benefits that can be derived from the Agreement it is very humbling to see prominent reference to my early publications in the World Customs Journal and the Journal of World Trade. The full report can be dowloaded from the WTO website. Much of my recent research can be accessed in full for free via ResearchGate.

Please do reach out to us if there are any points you wish to explore about the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement or any of my related research activities.