We want to build our internal knowledge of trade and customs compliance, who should we train within the organisation?
This will depend on several factors such as the size of your supply chain and the number of international borders it crosses, the nature of your product, the exposure of your staff to international trade activities and the strength of your processes. For instance it is obvious that moving nuclear material will be more demanding than shipping T-shirts. So the more complex your operations, the wider you might have to extend your programme. The logistics department is definitely the first area to train. It might also be necessary to include more widely all staff on the front line for instance the administration or customer services. They are processing orders so they might have to be aware of export control if applicable. They are also entering information in the system that is likely to be used to generate the trade documentation. Staff in the finance department might also benefit from training as duties and certain customs procedures have an impact on the cash flow. Sales and procurement staff can find it useful to understand trade agreements and more generally methods to reduce the amount of duties. If possible, an awareness session for the top management would be very useful. Ultimately, compliance requirements cross most functions so a wide training programme, at least in its awareness form, can lower the risk of non-compliance
How much knowledge and expertise should we develop internally?
The depth of knowledge must match your compliance requirement. At the minimum there should be a basic knowledge of the principles of classification, valuation, origin, procedures, export control and licencing if applicable. However, the business must ensure it has sufficient knowledge to match its compliance obligations. This might mean setting up a specific training programme to upgrade the knowledge in a specific area.
How should we organise our training programme?
The programme should consider the width and depth of the training required. Does the staff need just some “refresher” training or is it a full beginner programme? Are there some new areas of compliance that need to be developed? For instance to support a new sales activity. This might be the case when the sales team decides to sell under a trade agreement. The rest of the organisation will have to master the principle of originating status to comply with the rules of origin of that particular agreement.
The delivery of the training might also be tailored to the business with a mixture of on-site and online training.
Most importantly, the training programme needs to include some “refresher” training sessions as trade and customs compliance is a fast evolving field.
What kind of training is available?
There are several levels of knowledge. For business orientated training, you’ll find many providers covering this area. Supply Chain Asia has, for instance, a trade and compliance training programme as part of its training suite of services.
For knowledge looking in details into one specific area you can have a look at the World Customs Organisation training modules (http://www.wcoomdtraining.org/en/home). These online courses can help build a more technical knowledge of a particular Customs area, as you need it.
Finally, for a more in-depth knowledge, the academia having realised the need for trained professionals in the field of Customs management, have developed some post-graduate programmes such the Masters in International Customs Law from the University of Canberra. There are also a few PhD programmes in the field of customs and trade management. Universities with such offering can be found via the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU).
One point to remember is that training is an important part of many Customs accreditation programmes such as the Authorised Economic Operators. Under these schemes, training records must be kept on file and available on request.