Nicaragua, first benificiary of a project funded by Norad

13 January 2013

In September 2012, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) signed an agreement to support the project "Customs Capacity Building for WCO Members 2012-2015". Seven countries will benefit from this project: East Timor-Leste, Liberia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam. The first Country to see the launch of the project is Nicaragua.

At the request of Mr. Eddie Medrano, Director General of Nicaragua Customs Administration, the WCO conducted a scoping mission to formulate the contents of a technical assistance package to implement an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) program and to carry out a Time Release Study (TRS).

The Nicaragua Customs Administration confirmed its commitment to engage in this initiative as part of their modernization process. The two components of the technical assistance package are intertwined, as the TRS will help to identify bottlenecks in the clearance process and support improvements to the risk management framework, while the AEO component will help ensure that legitimate economic operators in Nicaragua benefit from a new simplified and risk-based clearance regime, while supporting further economic growth in the country and the region.

The scoping mission took place from December 10 to 19, 2012 in Managua and at the border with Costa Rica (Customs at Peñas Blancas). It was conducted by two WCO staff, an expert on TRS and a Senior Customs and Excise Inspector from the Spanish Customs Administration (accredited AEO expert).

Presentations on the SAFE Framework of Standards were delivered by the experts, in addition to more in-depth working sessions on the AEO and the TRS. Several meetings were held with different departments within the Customs administration as well as with the private sector, to facilitate dialogue on the respective needs and expectations in relation to the AEO program. Two representatives of the Customs administration of Costa Rica were also invited to participate in the mission for two days, in order to share their experience on the deployment of their AEO program. Opportunities for future cross-border collaboration between Nicaragua and Costa Rica were also identified.

Two implementation teams have been established within the Nicaragua Customs Administration to work on the implementation of the AEO and the TRS, respectively. Their first task is to prepare the implementation of their respective workplans, to support the smooth integration of technical assistance into the Administration. Over the next two years, these teams will receive remote and in-person support from the WCO through the Norad-funded project in the form of training courses, workshops and technical advice. At the end of the two-year implementation period, it is expected that the AEO program, combined with the results of the TRS and dialogue with regional partners, will promote greater regional trade and spur sustainable economic growth in Nicaragua and the broader region.