Make a difference

26th January 2024

By: Riaan de Lange


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Want to make a difference? Well, if you are still looking to fill your New Year’s resolution list, this might be for you. Should you require a bit of motivation, or a tagline to support your quest to make a difference, you could consider the narrator’s words in the opening sequence of the 1980s TV series, Knight Rider: “One man can make a difference.”

The TV series was phased out after Episode 7, with Not a drop to drink, which begs the question as to whether it was the liquor talking. But let us not get technical, or deflect from your quest, and redirect with President John F Kennedyʼs words: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” So early in the year, you might not take kindly to the word ‘try’, as Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back, so aptly reminds us: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

So, what should you do? Well, let me gently ease you into it. During the June 23, 2005, annual sessions of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), in Brussels, Belgium, the organisation’s council agreed to the establishment of a Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG). The PSCG was formed for the purpose of informing and advising the WCO secretary- general, the Policy Commission and WCO members on customs and international-trade matters from the perspective of the private sector. The PSCG complements the vital contributions made by private-sector observers to the WCO committee meetings. As the PSCG is an adviser to the WCO secretary- general, the Policy Commission and WCO members, its members will not be represented or participate as the ‘PSCG’ at non-WCO external events.

The PSCG’s key deliverables, besides informing and advising, is to support the adoption and effective implementation of agreed WCO and other relevant international instruments, and to leverage business resources and government relationship to advocate for and implement programmes developed and adopted by the WCO. And, finally, at the conclusion of each meeting, the PSCG provides a written report for the WCO secretary-general and the Policy Commission.

The WCO secretary-general, in consultation with the council chairperson and regional vice-chairpersons, appoints the PSCG members, taking into account diversity in terms of the WCO region, business size (which includes small and medium-sized enterprises) and industry sector. The PSCG consists predominantly of individuals from businesses, manufacturing organisations and associations, and currently has 28 members.

The PSCG members’ term lasts three years, but this may not be extended to more than two consecutive terms. However, a former PSCG member can only be reappointed to the PSCG after a three-year hiatus. In order to be considered for reappointment for a second consecutive period, a PSCG member should observe a good level of participation and attendance of meetings, which will be evaluated in consultation with the chairperson of the PSCG. To promote continuity, the WCO secretary-general, in consultation with the council chairperson and regional vice-chairpersons, will appoint new PSCG members when necessary, so that terms are staggered.

Every year in January, the WCO secretary-general sends a letter to the vice- chairpersons of the WCO regions, the chairperson of the council and the chairperson of the PSCG, informing them of openings in the PSCG membership and asking them to inform the wider membership to give them the opportunity to invite relevant entities to apply for PSCG membership.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the PSCG will then have to submit a written application to the WCO secretary-general. Applications can be submitted until March 31, after which the WCO secretary-general will consult with the WCO vice-chairpersons in April. In May, a notification will be issued and the WCO council will be informed about the new constitution of the PSCG at its annual sessions in June. PSCG member terms will last three years, with the term running from July 1 to June 30, and with members not able to serve more than two consecutive terms.

If you are interested in making a difference and, more importantly, want to serve, you should reach out to the WCO, and get your application in before March 31.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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