CKI Podcast

CKI Podcast

“Customs Knowledge Institute Podcast” is a monthly series exploring the dynamic field of customs and trade compliance. Joined by industry experts, the show tackles pressing issues like regulatory changes, EU Customs Reform, UK Customs developments, export control and sanctions, liabilities and responsibilities, professional threats, evolving roles and much more. Ideal for consultants, customs brokers, lawyers, traders, freight forwarders and anyone involved in the international supply chain, this podcast provides crucial insights into a rapidly changing landscape.

Welcome to the Customs Knowledge Institute’s first monthly “Podcast”! We start with a lively discussion about the changing role of customs brokers.

The most basic function of a Customs Broker is to lodge customs declarations on behalf of clients. Most trading businesses however rely on their Broker for much more – advice, record keeping, dealing with compliance issues, and interfacing with Customs authorities. The complexity of Customs and of business has encouraged specialisation and fragmentation of the “Customs representative”, as the Broker is known in the UCC. We see specialist brokers who offer the fullest representation, but also situations where brokerage is an add-on to other business such as transport, accountancy or consultancy. So it is hard to give one description that fits all Customs Brokers.

There is now a growing debate in the EU, the UK and the USA about the management and development of Customs representatives. Some would say that the EU Customs Reform Proposals threaten the very existence of the broker, and there is a strong campaign to restrict access to the role. The debate is partly driven by a perception that the broker can in some ways hide the trader from the view of the Customs authority, without having to take any responsibility for improper action or non-compliance.

Today, we are joined by Anthony Buckley, Kevin Shakespeare, Dr Momchil Antov and Enrika Naujoke to discuss some of the fundamental issues such as:
• What is wrong with the present system?
• Is the Broker under real threat?
• Does it make sense to have one definition of “Customs Representative” or should there be different categories?
• Should there be a licensing system? Covering which activities?

In Episode 1 “The future of customs brokers” of the monthly CKC Podcast, we concluded that harmonisation of the regulation of customs brokers is needed and also harmonisation of the competences of customs brokers.

One of the listeners pointed out that we did not discuss the question: “Is the customs broker really under threat?”. We return to this question in this Episode 2 of the Podcast and discuss it in light of the upcoming changes, especially the EU Customs Reform.


The participants in the discussion: Anthony Buckley (Chair of CKI, Ireland), Kevin Shakespeare (Director of Strategic Projects and International Development at the Institute of Export & International Trade, the UK), Dr Momchil Antov (Chairman of the Board of the National Organization of Customs Agents, Bulgaria) and Enrika Naujoke (director of Lithuanian Customs Practitioners Association, which is a member-observer at Confiad).

Some of the provisions of the proposed new EU Customs Code discussed (version September 2023):

Article 27(1): An indirect customs representative acting in its own name but on behalf of an importer or an exporter shall be considered the importer or the exporter for the purposes of Articles 20 and 22, respectively.
Article 27(3): “A customs representative having the status of Trust and Check trader shall only be recognised as such when acting as indirect representative. When acting as a direct representative, the customs representative may be recognised as Trust and Check trader if the person in whose name and on whose behalf that representative is acting has been granted such status.”
Particpants noted that Trust & Check Trader (TCT) status will replace AEO status in the future. In effect, customs brokers will be pushed to act as indirect representatives and assume liability even for the fulfilment of non-customs requirements. In addition, one of the most important requirements for TCTs is to give customs direct access to the data – no more customs declarations, but direct access to company data. Participants also discussed AEO status in the EU and the UK, and the UK Trusted Trader schemes.

The scope and impact of international sanctions is expanding and is increasingly reflected in every part of the supply chain. In Episode 3 of the monthly CKC podcast, we discuss three aspects related to trade and movement of goods:

  1. How uniform is the application of controls across Europe when it comes to international sanctions? 
  2. Customs compliance is a big topic. Is sanctions compliance just an extension of that or a new, additional workload?
  3. What is your advice to companies in case of accidental non-compliance?


Anthony Buckley, Chair of the Customs Knowledge Institute, Ireland; Kevin Shakespeare, Director of Strategic Projects and International Development at the Institute of Export & International Trade, the United Kingdom; Armin Belle, Owner of A H B Consultancy GmbH, Germany; Enrika Naujoke, Director of Lithuanian Customs Practitioners Association, Lithuania.

Customs is facing unprecedented challenges in dealing with growing complexity: international sanctions, Brexit, to name but a few. It currently enforces 348 regulations and counting. This new reality raises many education-related questions. In this episode 4 of the CKI podcast, we look at one of them: how can knowledge be disseminated to businesses efficiently and with high quality?


Renowned experts in customs education, the architects of the EU Customs Competency Framework, take part in this discussion: 

  • Frank Heijmann, Counsellor Customs, Permanent Representation of The Netherlands to the EU and
  • Prof Dr Hans-Michael Wolffgang, Director of the Institute of Customs and International Trade Law (ICTL), University of Münster, Germany.

The discussion is moderated by Anthony Buckley, Chairman of the CKI and former Head of Irish Customs.

The key to managing complexity is knowledge.

Prof Dr Hans-Michael Wolffgang

In this Episode 5 of the CKI podcast series, we discuss sustainability and customs ‘on both sides of the Atlantic’. Questions raised for the discussion:

  1. ‘Sustainability’ factors include environmental, social and employee matters, respect for human rights, anti‐corruption and anti‐bribery matters. Leaving aside the moral desirability of addressing these matters, is there a risk that the ‘sustainability’ label could be used to give respectability to trade discrimination?
  2. It has been suggested by Ira and others that the ‘deep origin’ information required is unrealistic – examples Uyghur production, deforestation – what are the likely consequences of enforcement?
  3. CBAM is now in its transitional phase. The stated intention is to equalise the carbon price paid on imported goods with that paid in the EU. However, the mechanisms (authorisation of importers, reporting/payment) are likely to restrict and reduce the quantity of imports – is this not so?

Anthony Buckley, Chair of the Customs Knowledge Institute, Ireland; Ira Reese, Chief Technology Officer and Director, Global Security and Innovative Solutions, the US; Monika Bielskiene, Attorney at law, PwC, Lithuania

In this Episode 6 of the CKI Podcast series, we discuss sustainability from the perspective of the ‘deep’ origin requirements and comment on specific issues as outlined below. 

  • The use of “obligation of result” in regulations, where supply chain operators are assumed to be aware of any failure to comply, effectively transfers the burden of proof from the “prosecution” to the “accused” – is this justified or justifiable?
  • We can see in many countries and many regulations (sanctions, environmental protections, etc.) that national interpretations, and the intensity of implementation, varies significantly. Is there any comfort for traders in this uncertain environment?
  • How do you see the present challenging environment developing? Will it get better, worse, or stabilise in a “new normal”?

Anthony Buckley, Chair of the Customs Knowledge Institute, Ireland; Brian Staples President, Trade Facilitation Services, Canada; Dr Anna Jerzewska, Director, Trade & Borders, the UK

In the Episode 7 of the CKI Podcast series, UK’s BTOM and it’s implications on trade is in focus. Discussion evolves around these questions:

  • How smooth has implementation been since 31st January?
  • Is the major impact on SPS goods, or are other goods equally affected?
  • What do you advise exporters from the EU to the UK to be especially aware of?

Anthony Buckley, Chair of the Customs Knowledge Institute, Ireland; Zandra Horgan, CEO at HFS Customs, Ireland; Mark Rowbotham, Customs, Excise & VAT Consultant, the UK