Opening of the WCO multilingual Regional Training Centre in Mauritius

29 November 2013

At the invitation of the Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, Mr. Sudhamo Lal, the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, visited Port Louis, Mauritius on 25 and 26 November 2013 for the opening of the Regional Training Centre (RTC), located in the Customs House.

The RTC is equipped with English, French and Portuguese language facilities as well as an e-learning platform. The Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Xavier Luc Duval, formally opened the RTC. In his opening address, Secretary General Mikuriya commended the leadership and continued engagement of Mauritius, previously as WCO Vice-Chair for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Region from 2011 to 2013, and now as host of an RTC. He hoped that this RTC would serve to share knowledge and strengthen the human resource network for Customs cooperation and regional integration. The opening ceremony was attended by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise of Malawi, Ms. A. Katsonga Phiri, in her capacity as the current Vice-Chair of the ESA Region, the Director General of Madagascar Customs and other regional Members. Mr. Sudhamo Lal, and the Director of Mauritius Customs, Mr. James Lenaghan, welcomed all the participants.

The WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) convened a meeting of ROCBs/RTCs with the Representatives of Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe, who were all present at the opening ceremony of this fourth RTC for the ESA Region. Responding to the concerns raised on funding issues and accreditation systems for experts, Secretary General Mikuriya suggested developing a regional approach with a view to sharing a pool of experts and exploring regional funding, in addition to the Secretariat's efforts to address the issues. The ROCB pledged to examine the way forward for a regional solution.

The first Train-the-Trainer Workshop on Rules of Origin was held at the newly opened RTC for 45 participants from the 14 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, organized by the SADC Secretariat with funding from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the support of the WCO. The WCO Secretary General addressed the group on the importance of rules of origin as the basis for regional integration. He had a discussion with the participants on specific challenges faced by countries working towards regional integration in the African context, with the WCO's support.

Secretary General Mikuriya also had a meeting with Mauritius Customs’ senior management team to discuss its future direction, including implementation of the Revised Kyoto Convention, excise duties, a free trade zone and communication, which happens to be the WCO’s theme for next year. He acknowledged Mauritius' contribution in terms of providing training resources (accredited experts) and showcasing WCO tools, such as nCEN.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr. Arvin Boolell, to discuss Customs’ role within regional integration processes. He also met with the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), H.E. K. V. Bhagirath, Ambassador of the Republic of India, to explore its cooperation with the WCO. In addition, a meeting was convened with the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission (COI), Mr. Jean Claude de L'Estrac, to capitalize on the WCO’s recent participation in the COI’s Customs meeting bringing together its five Members, in the interests of further enhancing cooperation.