You are meeting your colleague from some foreign customs. Discuss if your national customs services are structured similarly or differently.




Study all the sources available. Find as many data related to the work of customs organizations of different countries as possible. Make a 5-minute account of your findings in class under the heading “Global Customs in Figures”.


Self-assessment grid

Tick (✓) “Yes” or “No” answers in appropriate columns and lines to self-assess your knowledge and skills. Yes No

I know:

- the topical vocabulary “Customs as an organization”;
- the meaning of the suffix –ly in English adverbs;
- different meanings of the word given.
I can:
- paraphrase parts of sentences using synonymous structures;
- choose a correct form of negation;
- differentiate between present and past participles;
- read English numbers (numerals and fractions);
- discern the main idea in a text;
- role-play (make a discussion with a foreign colleague on the differences in the organizational structures of our customs services).
- speak on the topic and make a presentation “Global Customs in Figures.”
Total number of positive/negative answers:





Module 13

Pre-reading issues


1. What reforms are necessary to promote international trade?

2. How can customs formalities be accelerated?

3. Is computerization and automation an important factor in implementing different customs procedures?

4. Should different countries create a unified electronic customs system?


Customs automation

Customs formalities at border crossings are key elements in international trade insofar as they serve to monitor and control the movement of goods and passengers through customs barriers.

The World Customs Organization (WCO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations – all promote trade facilitation. As a result, several countries have established their own bodies to promote and implement trade facilitation measures, for example, SITPRO (Simplification of International Trade Procedures) of the United Kingdom, and JASTPRO (Japan Association for Simplification of International Trade Procedure). Nowadays, trade facilitation is one of the key activities in most customs administrations.

Automation is an important means of trade facilitation. The automation of customs processes has marked a giant leap in its implementation. During the 1980s, developed countries created their own systems while UNCTAD designed a system now known as ASYCUDA (Automated SYstem for CUstoms DAta) to assist developing countries. Now most customs administrations use automated systems in relation to cargo processing.

Not all customs administrations have automated at the same pace. Even where administrations use the same or similar software, there are still different levels of automation.

There are many sound reasons for automating customs processes: among the most important are expediting cargo clearance, the timely and accurate reporting of statistics, greater integrity and transparency, and more effective monitoring and control mechanisms – to name but a few. Automation in customs administrations focuses on striking a balance between revenue collection and trade facilitation.

Customs automation is not simply to automate a manual system or to upgrade an existing computer system with modern, high-tech equipment. The main aim is to eliminate all unnecessary elements and duplications in formalities, processes and procedures and to align national procedures and documents with international conventions and standards.

Today, it is necessary to link other departments and government agencies regulating agriculture, health and standards that are involved in the processing of customs declarations. The ‘one-stop-shop’ and Single Window concepts have been realized and authorizations are issued electronically. In computer terms, customs administrations are progressing from ‘Vertical integration’ to ‘Horizontal Integration.’

Better results can be achieved if automation is introduced as part of customs reforms and modernization projects aligned with the best practices set out in the Revised Kyoto Convention.


Text comprehension

1. Why are customs formalities important for international trade?

2. What international organizations promote trade facilitation?

3. What bodies have some countries established to implement trade facilitation?

4. Is automation an important means of trade facilitation?

5. What is ASYCUDA?

6. Are levels of automation similar in different countries?

7. What reasons can you name for the necessity to automate customs processes?

8. What balance can customs automation help to strike?

9. What is the main aim of customs automation?

10. Can automation help to link other government agencies and departments involved in the processing of customs declarations?

11. Where are customs administrations progressing in computer terms?

12. What international document is aiming at customs reforms and modernization?


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