My first thought. Not again. My second thpught, not France again. My second home country has been hit again. The devestating attack in Nice on last Thursday was awful and disgusting.  

A Terrorist drove through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people. 

There are increasing signs that the truck attack in Nice was a terrorist attack. The modus of the attack ks described in the ‘terrorist handbook’ that has been published by terrorists on Internet. 

France has been the past two years been subject to a number of major terrorist attacks with hundreds of civilian deaths jihadist groups were behind. 

This is our new reality. Our lifestyles and our open society is under attack. We live in a world where there are people that want to create chaos. They want us to be afraid, they want us to changenour way of living. 

We will not. 

I walked the street in Nice just a few days before the terrorist attack. Just like I travelled through Zaventem in Brussels just a few days before the attack there earlier this year. We are many prople in the same position, the terror is coming closer and closer to us. Terrorists want to scare us, they want us to be afraid. They want us to answer only with force – so they can mobilize their own side.

I am convinced that we need to do the opposite. We need to become more open and even better in our democracies, in living our lives the way we want it. As then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway said after the Utöya terrorist attack; “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity.We will answer hatred with love”.

However, we also can and will have to do more to protect ourselves. 

I believe that terrorism needs to be addressed with three different ways:

1. We need to address the roots of terrorism, which is poverty and injustice,

2. We need to increase our cooperation and coordination in pretection of the society, of the global village – and 

3. We need to be even more open, tolerant, transparent than ever before. We need to show that our way of living is the positive answer, not the problem.

In the Customs area we need to continue to develop our intelligence based risk management systems and the business partnership models through AEO concepts – to further enhance our supply chain security models. We need to do more – and we will. The risk of terrorism using the global supply chain is not acceptable and needs to be addressed with advanced systems and cooperation. 

Let us not be naive. The aim of terrorism is to terrorise. This means that there are no limits to what terrorists will do. It will continue to hit innocent people, to hit our day-to-day lives. 

Nobody is safe. Today all countries are under threat. We all need to prepare and develop our activities in this field, including my country. It is not easy to address this desease, but we have to.

Swedish Government has developed national counter-terrorism strategy that will form the basis of Sweden’s long-term work in this area, both nationally and internationally. The aim has been to create a clear structure for the work needed to combat terrorist crime. 

The strategy emphasises the importance of cooperation and clear follow-up of the work done.  If you want to read the document, click here: The Swedish Counter-Terrorism Strategy

As the European Union threatens to unravel in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave, the African Union is pursuing a path of closer integration through the launch of a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states.

The electronic passports will be unveiled at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, later this month, where they will be issued to heads of state and senior officials. The Union aims to distribute them to all African citizens by 2018.

“This flagship project has the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent – in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development,” the Union announced in a statement.

The passports represent a key plank of the Africa Agenda action plan, which emphasizes the need for greater continental integration, drawing on the popular vision of Pan-African unity. 

Freedom of movement has been a longstanding priority among member states, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty. Common passports have already been adopted for several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The African Passport was presented to President Kagame and President Deby, the Chairperson of the African Union. 

Among the headlines in the days that followed the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, one was the fact that the country had lost its triple-Acredit rating. So what is a credit rating, and why does it matter?

In simple terms, a credit rating is the measure of how well an entity – whether that’s a country, company or individual – can pay back the money it has borrowed. In other words, its credit-worthiness. In the case of the UK, it’s a sovereign credit rating, meaning that it applies to the country as a whole. The sovereign rating is not just a measure of whether a country is good for the money, but of how it is faring politically, economically and financially.

All three of these factors have been affected by the Brexit vote, said the rating agency S&P after its decision to downgrade the UK’s sovereign credit rating.

Triple-A is the highest rating that can be given, and triple-D is the lowest. Anything below a B, however, is viewed as pretty risky. The ratings are broadly divided between “investment grade” and “junk”. The lower the rating, the greater the risk that the borrower will not be able to pay back the money.

There are very few countries that belong to the AAA club. At the moment they are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland; and, until very recently, the UK. Hong Kong, which has Special Administrative Region status, has its own credit rating (AAA, from S&P).

Today Swedish golfstar Henrik Stenson won the British Open on Royal Troon. 

Stenson broke the tournament record winning on minus 20 and with a record low score (63) on last day. 

It is the first time a Swedish player wins British Open.

It was great to see the excellent performance of all three elected new WCO Directors this week, Ping Liu, Ana Hinojosa & Ernani Checcucci at their first Council Session. 

A lot of progress to report and perfect presentations. We are lucky to have them. 

They are excellent ambassadors for the organization. 

If you didn’t know it – here is some news for you: Dubai Customs is one of the a global leaders on Customs information services. Dubai Customs has developed a range of advanced e-services for the private sector and the public.

Dubai Customs has for a long time been a champion of innovative digitial Customs technolgy solutions. But are they the only administration using the new technology platforms for communication? No almost all Customs administration do so these days.

Dubai Customs – a leader on social media and digital Customs solutions

Customs has been a key function for Government for centuries. In fact Customs is one of the oldest professions in the world. Originally to collect tax and duties, which is still tve main function for  many Customs administries around the world. 

However as the world is changing so is Customs. Today areas like security, safety, protection, law enforcement and IPR are key functions for all Customs services. Customs nowadays also play a key role in development being the leading main authority involved in international trade. Today we know that trade is one of the most important drivers in relation to social development of our nations and regions. With growing and emerging trade and changed trade patterns line the development of global value chains, trade facilitation has become a major oriority for Customs. 

To be able to carry out these key functions of our countries in an efficient way, communication and interaction with people, citizens and businesses have become a part of daily life for customs officers. Why is information and communication important? If people don’t know the regulations, they can’t follow the rules. This not only creates unnecessary problems for people – and Government – but it also make us use resources in the wrong areas from a risk management perspective. 

For decades now we have been developing communication strategies, information policies, information material, customer surveys, focus groups, cooperation foras and in our attempts to increase the information to public and private sectors. It is fair to say that we have not always been successful in our honest attempts and that we are still learning as agencies to do this effecient and in a language that is understandable for non-Government officials. But we are improving, we are getting better and better. 

The latest trend in this perspective that I find very intersting from a communication perspective is Customs use of social media. 

Social media is king is the communication king today

Being a firm believer of communication and being an early adopter to new technology (toys for boys, you know) I personally started to use socia media and internet blogs. Today I have more than 11.000 readers of this blog a month and many follwers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The interaction I have from thes eplatforms is amazing, keeping old networks alive and establishing new ones alla round the world. Today there are more people having access to a cell/mobile/smartphone than to clean water. There are social media networks, like FB that didn’t exist ten tears ago, connecting billions of people.  

Private Sector and business early discovered the commercial potential of social media. 

Now Customs and Government agencies are starting to do the same. I have the last thee years followed the development of Customs use of social media as a part of my PhD preparations. 

In 2013 when I started to look at this topic most Customs administrations had good websites but that was basically the common use of internet services available at the time. There were about twenty countries that has started to enter the world of social media and smart phone apps. 

In early 2014 the real development had started and a number of countries follwed. 

There are already hundreds of Twitter accounts about Customs matters

Today there are almost one hundred countries who make their Customs information available using social media applications.

Facebook page of Dubai Customs

Many Customs administrations have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and have Instagram services. There were more thn 500 Cusotms related Twitter accounts in the beginning of 2016 and many new ones have been added since. 

There are more than 1000 smart phone apps available for IOs/Apple iPhone and Andoid phones (like Samsung, LG and Huawei smartphones) for Customs matters. Most of these apps are for free and can give considerble support for the private sector and the public. You can find everything from customs duties and tax calculators to applications, licensing rules, legislation tools, informations services and much more. Very valuable information for everybody.

Smartphone apps specifically developed for Customs

I will soon publicise a specific paper on this topic. In this research paper I will also present some of the early results from international use of social media in Customs. I can reveal that the results are very positive. It works, and why wouldn’t it?

You will find more about it on this blog, so watch out. 

I seriously recommend you all to search and use these applications. They are there for you and thr more we all use them, the better they will become. Start by checking out the leaders in this field, Customs admikistrations like Dubai Customs and USCBP.