OECD, Integrity in Customs: Taking Stock of Good Practices

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Customs administrations play an essential role in facilitating global trade while reinforcing integrity in cross-border exchanges of goods and services and collecting public revenue. Evidence shows that addressing lack of integrity in customs can create significant benefits for the public and private sectors, as well as society as a whole. This is why the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) and the OECD have set integrity in customs a priority. The G20 ACWG has requested the OECD to prepare a compendium of good practices to strengthen integrity in customs based on a questionnaire developed by the G20 ACWG, under the leadership of Mexico. 

The good practices compiled in this compendium are derived from the responses to the G20 Anti- Corruption Working Group (ACWG) Integrity in Customs Self-Assessment Questionnaire (the Questionnaire is in Annex). The country responses were collected in spring 2016 and are structured under each of the ten principles of the Revised Arusha Declaration on Integrity in Customs of the World Customs Organization (WCO). The Revised Arusha Declaration provides a global framework to address corruption in customs and increase the level of integrity of customs officials for WCO Members (see in Box 1). This compendium of good practices also reflects discussions with G20 country representatives. The G20 Anti- Corruption Working Group has commented the draft in two rounds then approved it earlier in 2017.

The stated purpose of this compendium was to make an inventory of measures reinforcing integrity in customs and it resulted in a valuable fact-finding exercise. The responses to the questionnaire and the discussions with customs administrations’ staff have shown the extent of the progress achieved by G20 countries, while pointing at potential areas that could be further strengthened.  

Good practices

The practices below are identified as good integrity practices as they seek to involve the private sector in collective action to fight corruption at the border. They promote a shared responsibility between public and private sectors in achieving clean trade.

Good integrity practices identified in this chapter are:

  •   Maintain a collaborative dialogue with economic operators and the public on the design and implementation of customs rules, policies and guidelines;
  •   Promote a shared responsibility approach to anti-corruption enforcement, based on frequent exchanges between Customs and Business can create opportunities to report fraud,     waste and abuse;
  •   Ensure effective communication with respect to rights and responsibilities of economic operators;
  •   Formalise whole-of-government and business consultations through shared institutions seeking to modernize and promote the effectiveness of foreign trade;
  •   Avoid adopting overly repressive approaches to non-compliance with customs rules and procedures; and invest efforts in making the information necessary to comply with rules and procedures readily available, and in providing compliance-related guidance and advice;
  •   Maintain the internal technical resources to be able to sustain a constructive dialog with the private sector, and avoid overly relying on private sector representations;
  •   Ensure business groups are involved in fighting corruption at the border.