WCO Secretary General attends the MENA Heads of Customs regional meeting in Morocco

31 January 2014

At the invitation of the Director General of Moroccan Customs, Mr. Zouhair Chorfi in his capacity as Vice-Chair for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region, Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in the MENA regional meeting of Heads of Customs, held in Marrakesh, Morocco on 29 January 2014. A wide range of issues were discussed at the meeting, including implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation and the role and support of the WCO in this respect.

The Directors General also tackled the question of information exchange in the tax-related area under the G20, and decided to prepare a paper on national practices and legal constraints in the region regarding information exchange between Customs and tax authorities. They also discussed the role of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB), increased use of Arabic for training activities including translation of training materials, and the question of funding. The ROCB will develop a regional business programme on the basis of the replies received to the WCO needs survey of Members which will be issued very shortly. 

The meeting also reviewed the recommendations arising out of the Arab forum on the fight against counterfeiting, held in Saudi Arabia in March 2013, as well as of the regional workshop on the Economic Competitiveness Package held in Abu Dhabi in November 2013. 

Directors General also followed up on the questions arising out of the Policy Commission held in Dublin in December. In terms of their expectations from the private sector, they emphasized the importance of transparency and trust in the building of partnerships; the importance of the private sector improving its capacity through training and integrity; and the need to ensure that the private sector in the MENA region had an input into the work of the WCO. 

All the participants expressed their appreciation to Moroccan Customs for its hospitality and the excellent organization of the meeting which had helped ensure active participation and positive interactions between the Members.