Coordinated Intervention

Definition/Scope

A number of government authorities have responsibility over the determination of the admissibility of goods into and out of the country and have set of good specific requirements. Besides Customs, the health, agriculture, environment and trade authorities set standards and conduct inspections for plant, animal and food safety, metrological and product safety purposes. Where goods have been selected for physical inspection, the term "coordinated intervention" refers to the need for Customs to coordinate the time and location of such inspections with other relevant government authorities and also with the neighbouring Customs administration in cases of joint border controls.

Problem statement

Without coordination of timing and location of physical inspection of goods, traders will be confronted with duplicated controls at different times and sometimes different locations, which adds significant amounts of time and cost to the overall clearance process. Also, national safety standards that are not based on available international standards increase the cost of trade due to replicating safety certification requirements.

Implementation guidance

As stipulated by Transitional Standard 3.35 of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) as well as Article 4 of the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods, Customs shall ensure that inspections are coordinated and, if possible, carried out at the same time. This means that inspections should be conducted, if possible, simultaneously or with a minimum of delay. All competent services should also ensure that the necessary facilities and staff are available at the place of examination.

As in the case of the Swedish Customs, governments may also consider delegating powers of the competent authorities to Customs to carry out the inspections on their behalf either in full or in part. This convergence of controls will also require that Customs are provided with the necessary means and training to conduct such inspections. The business community also highly recommends the delegation of all inspection activities to one single authority, preferably Customs, as documented in the ICC Customs Guideline # 20.

With supply chain security remaining an important task for Customs administrations, the concept of coordinated intervention was extended to encompass an entire coordinated border management approach. The WCO had identified this development and consequently included coordinated border management into the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards. The concept of coordinated intervention may also be combined with efforts to provide a single access point for the electronic submission of cargo and goods declarations, a so-called Single Window. With this system, Customs and all other relevant border agencies could coordinate and operate a common risk management approach to optimize the risk assessment and selectivity processes.

As for national safety standard setting, the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) require member countries to adhere to available international standards, such as the FAO International Plant Protection Convention for plant safety, the World Organization for Animal Health for animal safety and the Codex Alimentarius for food safety. The WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) encourages member countries to follow a code of good practice and set rules which are fair and equitable.

Additional information (references, examples, etc.)

The ICC Customs Guideline # 20 provides relevant business perspectives on the issue of convergence of controls. Besides the guidelines to TS 3.35 of the RKC, the WCO has prepared a research paper on this issue with relevant information and country examples. Also the World Bank has recently published a handbook on border management modernization.