HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programme

The HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Trade Facilitation Agreement Capacity Building Programme is a five year partnership (2015-2020) between Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) aiming at supporting developing and least-developed countries to effectively implement the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), using WCO international standards and tools, under the auspices of the WCO Mercator Programme.

The Programme is designed to leverage the unique competencies and capacities of the WCO, UNCTAD and HMRC. The WCO is responsible for Customs-related capacity building, with the Mercator Programme providing the foundations for the delivery of customized technical assistance to priority countries. In parallel, UNCTAD plays a critical role in delivering TFA-related needs analysis and in the establishment of and support to National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs). A pool of WCO accredited experts, including officials from HMRC and the UK Border Force, will be deployed on regular basis to deliver technical assistance to support the Programme, while dedicated experts covering the most complex provisions of the TFA will provide a rich technical foundation and a basis for continuity in capacity building support.

The two year extension (2018-2020) of the programme was announced, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) summit, in April 2018 by the Right Honorable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who emphasized the United Kingdom’s ongoing commitment to support customs administrations in developing countries to implement the TFA. The renewal added a further GBP 1.60 million to the Programme’s existing GBP 2.27 million, bringing the total value of the United Kingdom’s contribution to GBP 3.87 million.

As part of the renewal, the Programme will geographically shift to members of the Commonwealth, which allows for new engagements in the African, Central American and Caribbean region, while providing a framework for continuation of Programme efforts in established Commonwealth beneficiaries. Particular efforts have been made to secure alternative sources of funding for those countries where Programme activities have phased out due to the geographical shift, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Palestine, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The Programme continues to be at the core of the WCO’s efforts to roll out the Mercator Programme and continues to play a key role in deepening the Mercator Programme Operating Model, which is being applied across the WCO’s capacity building programmes. The WCO wishes to express its gratitude to HMRC for its continuous collaboration and looks forward to continue delivering support to its Members under the extended Programme.

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