Expertise in customs and trade compliance plays a pivotal role in strategically growing businesses through international trade in normal times, but during this crisis it has become more important than ever in order to maintain the vital flow of goods to everyone in the society. Customs professionals and trade compliance managers are the unsung heroes who are making sure hospitals and food markets stay stocked. They are juggling the new supply disruptions from the growing use of export restrictions and other actions that limit trade of key medical supplies and food.
To recognise the essential nature of their contributions, the International Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (ICC Belgium) and Customs4trade (C4T) organised the very first Customs Professional Award, weeks before the Coronavirus outbreak reached our country. After the impressive participation and turnout at the 2020 awards ceremony, held on Thursday, January 23, 2020, and in recognition of the invaluable contributions of customs professionals during this crisis, we have decided to organise a second edition of the Customs Professional Award, which will take place in 2022.
Current timing for nominations and voting is as follows, with dates subject to change.
- June 2021 to October 2021: start registrations of candidates for the Customs Professional Award 2022
- Beginning of November 2021: jury decides upon a shortlist of candidates + public voting kicks off
- End of December 2021: public voting closes
- End of January 2022: Customs Professional Award 2022 Event + celebration of International Customs Day
While Microsoft hosted the first edition of the event in its Zaventem offices, the initiative could not have existed without the much-appreciated sponsoring of, among others, KPMG, WCO Academy, and the support of the General Administration of Customs & Excises, the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB), and the Belgian Chambers of Commerce. The partnership between the International Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (ICC Belgium) and Customs4trade (C4T) is a development of C4T’s involvement in ICC’s global Commission on Customs & Trade Facilitation. During the COVID-19 crisis, ICC works closely with partners to ensure that the latest, most reliable information and tailored guidance reaches the global business community: https://www.covid.iccwbo.org/.
Customs Professional Award: How It Works and Who It Recognises
The Customs Professional Award was the first of its kind, and candidates either self-applied or were nominated by peers, noting their achievements and innovations as well as their vision for customs evolution in the future. The jury, consisting of members of the National Forum for Customs in Belgium, announced that there were so many high-calibre nominees that they actually increased the number of finalists eligible for the public vote.
“This award honours the person that deals with the daily customs business with the motto ‘non desistas non exieris’ (never give up),” explained Kristian Vanderwaeren, Administrator-General, General Administration of Customs and Excise, FPS Finances.
This year’s winner was Walter Van der Meiren, Regulatory and Compliance Director at UPS Europe. All other nominees were recognised as silver contributors and they received a tremendous applause from the audience. Now, just a few short months after the awards, these customs professionals face even more responsibility as the COVID-19 crisis emphasises the key role customs plays in the global supply chain. The world of customs is proud of their efforts and accomplishments.
In consideration of the tough times we have all been going through these last couple of months with companies and individuals struggling to survive, we are excited to announce this upcoming award as a reminder that your efforts will not get lost and we will get out of this together. In 2022, once again customs professionals will have the unique opportunity to meet the best in their business and share thoughts and insights into the future of customs compliance. We will continue to recognise the contributors to customs and trade and are excited for the future!