This week I visit Beijing, China for business meetings.

It is always exiting to visit this amazing country with its mix of history and fast development. 

I have had the fortune to visit China more than 20 times over the last twenty years and I have many Chinese friends. 

Tianamen Square

I am always impressed by the fast development that can be seen everywhere in the big cities. 

China Customs (GACC) is one of the really good examples of the modernization process. Today it is a modern agency meeting high international standards and with a level of competence, capacity and efficiency that is amazing in comparison with the same organization ten years ago.  The strategic leadership of the agency has tranformed operations. 

Also the Chinese businesses have developed and transformed the last decade. Today China is the largest economy in the world.

Wangfujing Street, my base in Beijing

I really like China and the Chinese people. I always have. 

This is country that deserves to be in the center of the world, just like thousands of years ago. 

On Wanfujing Street earlier today

This week it is the Dragon Boat Festival holiday. It was great to see people on the streets, relaxing with families and friends during this holiday (and with great weather).

A hot day in Dongsheng, Beijing

Now I am on my way back to Europe, but only for a short stop before gpong to South America. 

Another week in the service of the society, trying to make the world a better place.

My colleague and friend, Dr. Mikhail Kashubsky has just released his book about Oil & Gas, under the name “Offshore Oil and Gas Installations Security – An International Perspective”. 

The book

The launch was done in a proper setting during the 23rd Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition in Baku, Azerbaijan last week. 

Mikhail at the launch

Mikhail Kashubsky is the Head of the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU) – where I am Honorary Fellow and Member of the International Advisory Board. 


The International Network of Customs Universities (INCU)

I had the privilege to be in Baku together with Mikhail last week during the events and sharing this big moment for him. 

Our regional INCU Office in Baku

I have always believed in the power of research and decelopment for our sector. It is very important that we do more academic research of Customs in ghe future. There is not enough of written academic material in our field. That is why I very much appreciate theceggirts of colleagues writing books in this specific area. I congratulate Mikhail for his excellent work writing this book. 

Elmar Gasimov, Rektor of the Baku Higher Oil School & Dr. Kashubsky

For the rest of you, get it and read it – it is a very interesting study and book. 

It is great days for us football fans. Copa Americana has started and on Friday 10 June, the 2016 EuroCup in France starts. 


Sweden is one of the 24 countries in the playoffs. We play in a very difficult group with Belgium, Ireland and Italy. 


The Swedish team isn’t the best in Europe for the moment even though our U21 national team won the EuroCup last year. The favorites to the title are as always; Germany, Spain, France, Portugal and this time also Belgium, that has a very interesting team. 

This year there are 24 teams in the playoffs for the first time. All the big countries except Netherlands are through to the playoffs so we will have a superb tournament. I think we will see a number of amazing games this time. 

So what about Sweden? Well, as said we have a decent team with some new players that will be really good in a few years. And we also have a special weapon that everybody is afraid of, we have one thing that make every Swedish football fan hope a little bit more, namely Zlatan Ibrahimovic. One of the best football players in the world. 


This is player that is known for deciding the outcome of games on his own, having won 30 titles for six clubs in five countries. More than any other player in the history of the game. He has also had the best season of his career scoring 50 goals in 48 games for Paris Saint-Germain. Zlatan had 38 goals in the French Ligue 1 alone, 22 goals ahead of the second player at the top of the goal scoring list. 

We hope for magic from Zlatan, some more Ibracadabra. That can lead us to a quarter final or even a semifinal. 


Who will win? As Gary Lineker once said, “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end Germans win”. 


There is no doubt that we will have great weeks ahead of us watching the best players play increadible football. 

I will go with my son and brother-in-law to watch Sweden play in France, my second home country. 

We are hoping for a party and that we are allowed to celebrate the peaceful wonderful game that units people instead of seeing security problems, terrorism and criminalty. It is time for EuroCup 2016. 

Today it is our national day, 6th of June. 10 million people celebrates our country.


National Day celebrations in our capital, Stockholm 

We are proud of our country, a trading nation known for peace, equality and solidarity. No other nation in the world contributes more per capita than Sweden to the fight against poverty through aid and development support. In addition no country in the European Union has welcomed more refugees per capita than our country. 

The Swedish Royal Family celebrates the National Day at Öland, the island in the Baltic Sea where they have their summer residence

This is in our DNA, a hundred and fifty years ago we were very poor country and more than one third of the population had to emigrate to America to avoid starvation. We remember where we come from.

Congratulations Sweden

We are vikings, trading people and a nation of innovators. People and grest innovators like Alfred Nobel (dynamite), Sven Wingquist (bearings), Christopher Polhem (the padlock), Nils Bohlin (the seatbelt), Johan Petter Johanson (the wrench), Gustaf de Laval (the steam turbin) just to mention some, shaped our country. 


Today Swedish internet stars like Niklas Zennström (Skype), Daniel Ek (Spotify) and Marcus Notch Persson (Minecraft) are important players in the new digital economy. 

Sweden is also a beautiful land with fresh air and water and a facinating landscape. 

A country with many faces

I always say that we have the most beautiful capital city in the world, Stockholm. Located on 35.000 islands in an archepelago. 

Stockholm

Another special feature is the Northern Lights that paints our sky in wintertime.

Northern lights

People from Sweden love sports. Our favourite sports are;  football (soccer), icehockey, handball, skiing (cross country/downhill), tennis and golf.

Our biggest sports star (by far) is soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

Ibra, my hero

Congratulations Sweden, the land of hope and dreams. I am proud of you.

Sweden arranged the 2nd WCO Europe Regional WorkShop on implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in Stockholm this week. 

Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD spoke at the opening of the workshop

During two days Trade Facilitation was in the center of the discussion between representatives from forty countries, European Union, WCO, UNCTAD, WorldBank and a wide range of other organizations.

Another of the high-level speakers at the Conference was Mr. Antonis Kastrissianakis from the EU Commission, Taxud. 

We know that trade is what develops our societies. There are many examples. Customs and border agencies are vital leaders and key players in how our borders are managed and monitored. 

Customs is watching over and controlling our borders while we are sleeping, working and living our lives. Customs are always there to keep us safe, 24/7 all days of the year, decade after decade. And have been for centuries. 

So how do we handle the fact that we live in the age of globalization, in a turbolent world of crises?

 Just the last decade we have had security crises, safety crises, commodity prize crises, global financial crises, political crises and now a refugee crise. And we we are just in the beginning of this era. There will be more. 

The answer is trade facilitation. We need to design, develop and implement smart, risk based systems and programmes to monitor the international trade supply chain in totally new ways. Global trade will bring us together and develop our economies. However it needs to be done in a transparent way where all countries have fair market access. We need to make it work this time. 

Like in every development there is (as always) good news and bad news. The bad news is that it will be worse before it gets better.

The good news is that we know how to do it, now we just have to do it on the ground instead of only talking about it. And we will. 

The Wall Street fictionary charachter Gordon Gecco (played by Michael Douglas) once said that ‘greed is good’. I think it is not. But Trade Facilitation is. 

So it is time to launch a new paradigm,  the New Trade Facilitation Model – with responsible simplifications and facilitation systems solving the challanges for all stakeholders. 

We have the instruments, we have the experience – today we know how to do efficient capacity building and implementation. 

The future belongs to the optimists. 

A UAE businessman bought a car registration plate bearing just the number ‘one’ at an auction. The car plste number was sold for AED18m (£3.4m).


The winning bidder, Emirati businessman Arif Ahmed al-Zarouni, told Gulf News: “My ambition is always to be number one”, UK Newspaper The Guardian reports.


I really like this vision and ambition that I often meet in United Arab Emirates. The wish to be the best. This is an important driver of development. 

You can read the entire article here (click on the link): Number One