Dear Mr Safar Mehdiyev, Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the UN, it is my pleasure to speak today at the Second Forum of Foreign Trade Participants to discuss the initial results of reforms carried out in the area of customs.
The UN System in Azerbaijan has enjoyed excellent cooperation with the State Customs Committee since it was established and I would like to use this opportunity to thank Mr Mehdiyev for this effective partnership.
After the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the World Customs Organization and its Members have been considering the role and contribution of Customs in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I would like to name just a few examples of how activities in the field of customs can contribute to the attainment of the SDGs.
- Revenue collection and trade facilitation functions performed by customs authorities contribute to the national treasury, which finances the national development plan – including poverty reduction efforts.
- Customs plays a pivotal role by working with other agencies at border crossings to ensure goods arriving into the country meet health, safety, and environmental protection standards and regulations.
- Customs facilitate trade, which in turn can open up opportunities for marginalized communities, including women entrepreneurs and small traders, to access new markets while improving the conditions and ensuring safety at the border.
- At the same time, while a modern customs administration facilitates cross-border trade, it successfully combats smuggling and fraud, thereby reducing unfair competition in local communities, protecting the society and citizens from harm, and efficiently collecting revenue for economic sustainability.
- Through the monitoring, detection, and prevention of all forms of environmental crime, including violations of environmental standards and illegal trafficking in all kinds of wildlife, customs can significantly disrupt pollution-related crime and protect the environment.
- Customs contributes to a rule-based multilateral trading system through the application of international trade-related agreements and instruments and regularly cooperates with a wide range of other actors, both public and private sector towards economic growth.
As we can see, customs activities play a very important role in achieving the SDGs, indeed.
As I mentioned earlier, the UN system has provided technical support to the Government of Azerbaijan in the areas of border management and customs.
UNDP worked in partnership with the European Union and the Governments of Azerbaijan and Georgia has carried out activities to modernise customs legislation and to enhance the application of information technologies in the State Customs Committee.
IOM has enhanced the capacities of government officials to examine travel documents in a more effective way.
In addition, Guidelines on Travellers Selection Techniques in Customs Control on the basis of World Customs Organization materials were developed.
As the UN family of agencies develops its next Cooperation Framework with the Government of Azerbaijan that would cover 2021 to 2025, we look forward to enhancing this partnership to ensure customs are essential players in Azerbaijan’s realization of the SDGs.
I wish you all a successful forum today.