At the invitation of African Union, Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in its Sub-Committee of Customs Directors General Meeting, held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo on 25-26 September 2014.
The African Union's Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Ms. Fatima Haram Acyl, urged Members to prepare for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement with categorization and cost implication even if the adoption of the Protocol continues to be stalled. For the time being, Secretary General Mikuriya explained about the WCO offer of assistance with its tools and the Working Group on the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The meeting organized a panel discussion on interconnectivity for improved trade facilitation. Several Members shared their experience and identified a range of necessary factors, including political will, legal framework, IT infrastructure, working methods and funding. Secretary General Mikuriya explained the WCO's tools for structured information exchange, contained in the Globally Networked Customs with Utility Block as well as the Transit Handbook under finalization. He also shared the related area of Single Window and the need for its progressive application from the national level, based on the global practices, reflected in the WCO Single Window Compendium.
Delegates decided to assume the mission of supporting a Continental Free Trade Area. It also adopted a systematic working method with a matrix of an action plan.
All the participants appreciated the excellent organization and the warm hospitality of the Customs administration of the Republic of the Congo, headed by Director General Jean-Alfred Onanga as well as that of the government of the Republic of the Congo.
Secretary General Mikuriya took this opportunity to visit the site of the future Regional Training Centre in Brazzaville and was welcomed by local authorities.