Capacity building to secure and facilitate global trade in Yemen Customs highlighted
Sana’a, 26-28 November 2010
At the invitation of Chairman Mohamed Zemam of Yemen Customs, Secretary General Mikuriya visited Yemen from 26-28 November 2010. After onsite visits to the airport in Sana’a, capital of Yemen, and the maritime port in Aden, he held a series of meetings with Customs management, and political and business leaders to discuss ways to enhance the capacity of Customs in securing and facilitating global trade, taking into consideration the recent discovery of explosives in air cargo departing from Yemen.
The WCO Secretary General visited the Aden Free Zone to observe modernized Customs procedures where clearance time has been reduced dramatically from a few days to 2 hours by an automated system while ensuring the security of cargo by scanners. He had a meeting with local business leaders who pointed out the need to address the issue of infrastructure while appreciating the recent Customs legislation establishing a compliance programme, based on the Customs-business partnership approach and other modernized procedures.They agreed that the current challenge for Yemen is the improvement of the global perception of security in Yemen that hinders trade and investment.
At the airport in Sana’a the Secretary General observed the operations of Yemen Customs, which is in charge of inspecting all outbound and inbound passenger luggage and cargo, using non-intrusive inspection technology and in cooperation with the security agency.He was informed that Yemen Customs had a plan to further enhance security, including upgrading technology and sending officials to the courier service office where parcels are received from clients.Referring to the recent air cargo event, local business leaders briefed him about their concern that isolation of Yemen from the global trading system could only benefit terrorists.
During the meeting with the Customs management team, Chairman Zemam stated that the priority of Yemen Customs has shifted from being revenue-centric to trade security linked to trade facilitation.They discussed the need to develop risk management and the collecting and sharing of information.Secretary General Mikuriya explained that Customs may not be the source of first intelligence information, but with its vast knowledge of goods trade patterns and traders, it could provide useful information for a wider intelligence community based on the first intelligence report.Therefore it would be necessary to get quality information in a timely manner from business for managing risk and exchange and share information with other Customs administrations and other border agencies.
Yemeni political leaders met the Secretary General to demonstrate their pledge to keep their country engaged in the global economy:
-The Minister of Finance, Nouman Al-Sohaibi, renewed his commitment to enhancing security and facilitation through the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards.He also expressed his country’s willingness to accede to the Revised Kyoto Convention to base Customs modernization on WCO global standards in an effort to ensure connectivity of the Yemeni economy to global markets.
-The Minister of Trade and Industry explained Yemen’s open trade policy and its future prospect of joining the WTO.He agreed that applying WCO best practices and encouraging a partnership with business in implementing WTO rules was important.
-The Minister of Foreign Affairs saw the timing of the WCO’s visit as a sign of international solidarity and agreed that the need for communication with the external world was important.
-The Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs agreed that Yemen should use the security concern as driver for reforming Customs and other institutions.He stressed the importance of addressing the human resource issue, as implementation of new Customs legislation and a modern system depended on the right person in the right place.
In summing up the visit, Secretary General Mikuriya stated, “There is strong commitment among political, business and Customs leaders in Yemen to secure and facilitate global trade.The challenge Yemen is faced with is of a global nature, requiring a global solution and cooperation. The WCO is committed to support Yemen Customs in its reform and modernization.I believe it is essential for the global community to provide assistance to Yemen,as terrorists and organized crime attack the weakest link in the global supply chain.”