Something to Declare

On Customs Compliance & Trade Facilitation

When it Comes to Customs Compliance, Function Can be Outsourced but Responsibility Cannot

I’ve recently been scolded for suggesting that technology might help importers and exporters deal with the complexity of the Harmonized System (HS). My critic, a director of global customs for a multinational corporation, took exception to my call for the World Customs Organization to embrace intelligent software as a way of encouraging wider HS usage and ensuring greater accuracy in HS classification.

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Knowledge Work as we knew it, has had its Day.

McKinsey & Company’s seminal study titled “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” listed 12 technologies that could “drive truly massive economic transformations and disruptions in the coming years”. Second from the top, with an estimated economic impact of between $5 trillion and $7 trillion annually by 2025, was the automation of knowledge work.

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Balancing the Unbalanceable

About a year ago, as part of its Community of Practice Series on Trade Facilitation for the Caribbean Region, the Inter-American Development Bank invited me to speak about whether it was possible to reconcile the competing forces of Customs Compliance and Trade Facilitation.

To prove my thesis that current compliance and facilitation initiatives are incompatible, I plotted U.S. customs compliance and trade facilitation initiatives over a graph of duty losses from 2003 to 2014. The results were stark…

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