New guide: Risk management for safe, efficient trade
Countries now have a roadmap to expedite trade flows at the border with this policy guide.
Food, essential medicines and other goods have languished at borders for lengthy inspections – a challenge brought into the public eye during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customs administrations and border regulatory agencies coped with exceptional circumstances to expedite the supply of goods, while ensuring compliance and safety.
Border controls that ensure safe, efficient trade flows are a top trade facilitation challenge in the best of times. The pandemic underscored just how important it is to avoid delays of critical food and medical products. Outdated techniques and limited resources lead to inefficiency.
Robust risk management must be in place to speed up low-risk trade while managing risks at the border. Yet the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade facilitation database shows that risk management is one of the five least-used ways for countries to streamline trade, as agreed in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
A new joint publication of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) points the forward. Managing Risk for Safe, Efficient Trade: Guide for Border Regulators offers national policy guidance to coordinate and track the movement of goods entering countries, with a focus on prioritizing import shipments for inspection.
Regulatory agencies in border control can benefit from integrating their efforts to enforce a wide range of health and safety measures. These agencies protect people, check on plant and animal safety, and address anti-terrorism and more.
The guide ‘provides a unique roadmap to implement a modern risk management system – one that is integrated and interconnected, where all border agencies carry out their mandate in a synchronized manner to reduce the time and cost of doing business,’ said ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
Among key recommendations: upgrade risk management in regulatory agencies, apply profiling and targeting techniques to assess the non-compliance risk of incoming cargo, and integrate the import compliance systems and tools of these regulatory agencies.
Integrating agency efforts at the border
Modern risk management systems use information technology for cargo data to predict compliance with import regulations. While no security system spots all risks, risk management makes the border the last line of defence against threats.
Specific systems, business processes and skill sets are needed to carry out risk management programmes involving all relevant agencies, the report says. Formalizing such programmes can improve public safety and help governments allocate limited border security resources. They play a pivotal role in facilitating legitimate trade by focusing inspections only on imports that pose the greatest risks.
The guide also offers recommendations to exporters and importers, who play a key role to improve compliance. It urges traders to collaborate with regulatory administrations, keep informed about policy changes and support regulators with trusted information. Businesses should ensure their staff are trained to use sound documentation practices and follow a detailed compliance plan.