African leaders and Heads of international and regional organizations meet at TICAD V to agree on the "Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa" development strategy for Africa

04 June 2013

At the invitation of Japan, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the Commission of the African Union, Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), held in Yokohama, Japan, from 1 to 3 June 2013. The Conference was attended by representatives of 54 African countries, including 39 Heads of State, as well as the Heads of major international and African regional organizations, including the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank. Participants discussed how to boost trade and investment in an inclusive and sustainable manner, with focus on intra-African trade, while addressing the issues of human security and peace building. During the plenary session, leaders and representatives from Africa expressed the need for adequate cross-border infrastructure, including One-Stop Border Posts (OSBP), Single Window and connectivity of logistics for boosting the Economies in Africa, while the private sector emphasized the need for border procedures to be improved in order to establish a more favorable investment climate.

Secretary General Mikuriya spoke under the theme of "Enhancement of Peace Building" and emphasized how Customs can help countries to lead peace building through its border management, collection of revenue and promotion of trade. In response to the call by African leaders and the private sector for efficient border procedures, he stressed that the WCO will continue to help African countries improve the efficiency of the supply chain through the use of WCO standards for simplified and harmonized Customs procedures to ensure better connectivity at the border. He also reaffirmed the contribution of Customs to the security of citizens through effective border control aimed at combating illicit trade, including drug trafficking and trade in fake medicines, where the WCO assists its Members with the exchange of information through its secure communication system and facilitates international cooperation through coordinated operations. Finally, he stressed the importance of institution building in Customs reform where addressing the issue of Integrity had to be a core component, and he shared some best practices in this respect.

In conclusion, TICAD V adopted the "Yokohama Declaration 2013" and the "Yokohama Action Plan" which mentions the key areas of Customs work for boosting economic growth: (i) Mainstreaming intra-African trade in national development strategies, including enhancement of the role of the organized private sector, the informal private sector, and women in trade policy formulation; (2) Creation of inter-connected vectors for trade information exchange; (3) Integrated Border Management and Customs transit; (4) Promotion of Integrity and the fight against corruption in African Customs administrations; and (5) Capacity development for African Customs administrations and trade facilitation with the support of the WCO. African leaders were also urged to tackle the cross-border security issues of transnational organized crime, terrorism and piracy that destabilize societies and cause new conflicts. These include human and drug trafficking, fake medicines, small arms and light weapons, illegal fishing, dumping of waste and money laundering.

Secretary General Mikuriya also spoke at the meeting of Heads of international organizations, organized by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and reaffirmed the commitment of the international Customs community to work with other international and African partners to achieve the common goal of African development in an inclusive and dynamic manner.