Photo: Fiji Customs

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WCO Cargo Targeting system gets upgraded

20 October 2020

The WCO has released an upgraded version of its Cargo Targeting System (WCO CTS). This enhancement has been made possible thanks to financial support provided by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, and assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Whilst the software retains the same features, it presents them in a new and intuitive way that enhances the user experience. This new version also future-proofs the System for the coming years by strengthening its security and making it easy to adapt to the evolving needs of Customs administrations.

For those not familiar with the WCO CTS, it may be worth highlighting that the tool:

  • makes it possible to gather and store electronic cargo manifest, bill of lading and air waybill data from container shipping lines, airlines, Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers and freight forwarders for imports, transshipments, transit and exports;
  • provides users with an interface which allows them to search and analyse manifests by applying consistent risk indicators, generated from risk profiles and watch lists, to all cargo consignment records;
  • allows indicators to be systematically applied to all data received, and alerts users when cargo consignments match the indicators; for inbound cargo, the WCO CTS can alert Customs administrations to high-risk consignments before the vessel arrives;
  • provides for the creation of watch lists and their management;
  • makes it possible to give users different roles and permissions;
  • includes a workflow management system;
  • facilitates management oversight and reporting.

The software has been designed by the WCO, based on the best practice and expertise of Customs, shipping and the airline industry, and takes into account the Customs operational environment and the needs of Customs Officers in performing their daily tasks. It is owned by the WCO and is available exclusively to WCO Members without purchase or licence fees. Operating and implementation costs are very low.

It has already been implemented by many Customs administrations which have different IT and risk assessment capabilities, and which are located in countries that vary widely in terms of size, level of economic development and cargo volumes. The new version is progressively being deployed in those administrations.

When canvassed for feedback on the system in early 2020, all users agreed that the tool enables systematic, effective and timely risk assessment, thus facilitating the clearance of cargo not deemed to be high-risk.

For example, the Jamaica Customs Agency reported that alerts received from the CTS currently account for 40% of all seizures made. These include a total of 109.2kg of cocaine valued at approximately 1.1 million US dollars, IPR-infringing clothing and footwear valued at approximately 330,000 euros, as well as several weapons and over 70 rounds of ammunition.

The Philippines Bureau of Customs explained that the tool contributed to a 10.68% increase in positive identification (hits) in the last semester of 2019 compared to the first semester of 2019, and that its day-to-day use is enabling analysts to assess risks with increasing accuracy.

In addition, Sri Lanka Customs reported that the performance of its risk department has increased rapidly with implementation of the tool: among other things, the CTS enabled officers to uncover 16 revenue cases in 2019, recovering approximately 350,000 euros.

Finally, the Georgia Revenue Service highlighted that, by enhancing Customs targeting capacities, the tool has also benefited legal and compliant business actors, who do not have to undergo unnecessary controls.

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