Acting on a request by the Director General of Tunisian Customs, in the framework of the five-year Strategic Plan devised during Phase II of the Columbus Programme, the World Customs Organization (WCO) organized a four-day National Seminar on the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) which was held in Tunis (Tunisia) from 3 to 6 December 2013 at the head office of the "Maison de l’Exportateur". The National Seminar was attended by more than 70 officials from the core departments of the Directorate General and regional Directorates, and by senior Tunisian Customs officers. Participants also included representatives of the Ministries involved in Customs clearance procedures (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Handicrafts, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Transport), the Tunisian Post Office, the National Institute for Standardization and Industrial Property, and the private sector. The main purpose of the Seminar was to inform all these players and increase their awareness of the importance and the benefits of the RKC, and to train participants to master that instrument in order to expedite the process of Tunisian accession and prepare effectively for the Convention to be implemented as soon as possible. The participants immediately proceeded to the comparative analysis of the provisions of the RKC and national legislation.
Mr. Samson Bilangna (Technical Officer in the Facilitation and Procedures Sub-Directorate of the WCO Secretariat) and Mr. Vivekanand Ramburun (Senior Mauritian Customs officer and RKC expert accredited by the WCO) took part in this Seminar as experts and shared their knowledge of the RKC and their experience of comparative analysis of the discrepancies between the RKC and national legislation. The quality of the discussions at various points during the Seminar reflected the participants’ deep interest in questions concerning the simplification and harmonization of procedures at borders.
The Seminar’s opening and closing ceremonies were presided over by Mr. Abderrahmane Khochtani, Director General of Customs, for and on behalf of the Minister of Finance, who was unable to attend. On each occasion, he pointed to the importance of implementation of the RKC by the Tunisian Customs Administration. He observed, in particular, that accession to and implementation of the RKC were included in the framework of the national strategy adopted by Tunisian Customs to develop its Customs systems during the next four years (2013-2017) and would help Tunisia to facilitate trade by drastically reducing the time required for Customs clearance and to confront the scourges of smuggling, counterfeiting and piracy. Lastly, he stated that Tunisia would accede to the RKC during the first six months of 2014.
The Seminar was a great success, and it significantly enhanced the understanding by Tunisian Customs of the provisions of the RKC and especially of the benefits derived from accession and from its implementation. The Seminar ended with the drawing up of an action plan for accession to and implementation of the RKC. Tunisian Customs was most grateful for this timely assistance and warmly thanked the WCO for all its support in terms of technical assistance and capacity building. The WCO Secretariat will continue to support Tunisian Customs in its endeavours to modernize and especially in implementing the RKC.