Meeting of the Governing Council for the WCO East and Southern Africa region

25 May 2012

Meeting of the Governing Council for the WCO East and Southern Africa region

Gaborone, 23-25 May 2012

Report

At the invitation of the Mauritius Revenue Authority’s Director of Customs, James Lenaghan, in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the WCO East and Southern Africa region, the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, attended the 17th Meeting of the Governing Council for the WCO East and Southern Africa (ESA) region hosted by the Botswana Unified Revenue Authority (BURS) in Gaborone, Botswana on 24 and 25 May 2012.

Opening the meeting, Ken Morris, the Commissioner General of BURS, welcomed delegates from Member countries in the region and representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the private sector.

The Hon. Vincent Seretse, Assistant Minister for Trade and Industry in Botswana, addressed the meeting. He emphasized the many issues currently faced by Customs, including trade facilitation, security, IPR, and integrity, and the need for Customs to refocus and develop new approaches to deal with these challenges.

The meeting discussed a wide range of topics including the report of the Secretary General on current WCO activities, the reports of the Regional Vice-Chair and Chair of the Regional Steering Group, and the outcome of the High-Level Regional Workshop on Promoting Trade Facilitation, Proper Revenue Collection and Integrity by Strengthening the Customs-Business Partnership that was held on 23 May in Gaborone.

Delegates also discussed the Report of the Regional Steering Group Meeting of 21-23 May, ROCB activities and budget, progress on decisions of the 16th Meeting of the ESA Governing Council and Steering Group, a presentation on illicit trade in the region by the RILO, a presentation on the Finnish-funded project, and heard feedback on the Donors Conference. Participants expressed their sincere appreciation to the Mauritius Revenue Authority and BURS for organizing the event and the warm welcome extended to all attendees.

To coincide with the regional meeting, Japan Customs and the Mauritius Revenue Authority in its capacity as regional Vice-Chair, in cooperation with BURS, organized a High-Level Regional Workshop on Promoting Trade Facilitation, Proper Revenue Collection and Integrity by Strengthening the Customs-Business Partnership on 23 May which was attended by the WCO Secretary General.

The High-Level Workshop discussed the promotion of trade facilitation in the context of the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept, the WCO Time Release Study, efforts to make Customs brokers and clearing agents qualified and accredited, integrity, the implementation of an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme, and the implementation of WCO instruments and packages. In addition, H.E. Mr. Hiroyasu Kobayashi, Ambassador of Japan to Botswana, explained the Tokyo International Conferences on African Development (TICAD) process (see Executive Summary below).

Since 1993 the Government of Japan has held TICAD events. TICAD IV in 2008 advocated the expansion of Japan’s support for the OSBP. Discussions during the High-Level Workshop were expected to serve as a basis for further cooperation on Customs matters between Japan and the ESA region in the run up to TICAD V which was scheduled for June 2013.

Whilst in Botswana, the WCO Secretary General met the Commissioner General of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), Ken Morris, and the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Philiso Valashia, together with the BURS management team. The Secretary General expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to learn first-hand about current issues being addressed by BURS. The Secretary General also paid a visit to Mr. T A Salemao, the SADC Executive Secretary, where they had the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest.

More information

Executive Summary: High-Level Regional Workshop on Promoting Trade Facilitation, Proper Revenue Collection and Integrity by Strengthening the Customs-Business Partnership