From 27 to 29 May 2015, the WCO, in cooperation with the EU as Vice Chair of the WCO Europe Region and the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration, held a WCO Regional Workshop on Strategic Initiatives for Trade Facilitation. The Workshop took place in Budapest, Hungary and saw more than 80 participants from WCO Members of the Europe Region, as well as representatives from the private sector, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations. It was financially supported by the WCO Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) Korea and the EU.
The Workshop highlighted the main WCO tools for trade facilitation including for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation agreement (TFA) - such as the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), the WCO TFA Implementation Guidance as well as Time Release Study, the WCO TFA Working Group and others - and emphasized the importance of coordination and collaboration among all relevant government agencies and business actors as a key factor for economic growth.
This Regional Workshop was the second in a row of events that will cover all six WCO Regions and is part of the WCO’s regional awareness initiatives to be held in 2015 as a first part of the Mercator Programme, which is already being complemented and followed up on by tailor-made capacity building activities and technical assistance to Members as the supplementary part of the Programme. This Workshop was intended to facilitate the exchange of strategic views, experiences and expectations of Members in the Europe Region on ways forward towards consistent, effective and efficient implementation of the WTO TFA.
Brigadier General Torda of the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration welcomed all participants, stressing the importance of harmonised implementation of the TFA. Other speakers at the event included Ms. Barczyk, Deputy Director Compliance and Facilitation of the WCO, Mr. Grave, Head of Unit in DG TAXUD, EU, and Mr. Gamboa-Alder of the WTO as well as distinguished speakers from other International Organizations. Several Members of the Europe Region presented their practices and experiences regarding topics such as National Trade Facilitation Committees, Coordinated Border Management and Transit that could support the TFA implementation.
Reactions of participants were extremely positive and included the understanding of the need for Members to review and potentially adjust their strategic plans with a view to TFA implementation, as well as to continue supporting each other both within the Europe Region and beyond, by sharing good practices and by providing experts for WCO Capacity Building delivery under the Mercator Programme.