Since the launch of the WCO Mercator Programme in June 2014, the WCO has delivered more than 60 WCO capacity building, technical assistance, and training activities in support of World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) implementation. Mercator Programme support draws from WCO trade facilitation instruments, standards, and tools.
The WCO is also actively supporting Members in the establishment and maintenance of TFA National Trade Facilitation Committees (NCTFs). Article 23.2 of the TFA requires that "each member shall establish and or maintain a national committee on trade facilitation or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the TFA".
Based on a WCO survey regarding the TFA NCTFs, 23 Members (out of the 66 Members who have so far replied to the survey) have already either established a National Committee or designated an existing body to carry out this role.
At least 21 out of the 23 Members that have established or maintained the National Committees indicated that Customs has taken a leading role, for instance as Chair, Co-Chair, Vice Chair or Co-ordinator.
During the WCO Permanent Technical Committee on 3 March 2015, Mr. Azarema Abdulkadir from Nigeria Customs, shared his administration’s experience of establishing a TFA National Committee and taking a leading role as Vice Chair. Nigeria’s National Task Force Committee, which was established in 2002 for the Negotiations of the TFA, has now transitioned to become the TFA National Committee. Mr. Abdulkadir stated that the Committee has, among other things, made a significant impact for the trading community by building awareness of the WTO TFA and its objectives. Moreover, the Committee has further enhanced cooperation among government agencies for common processing of cargo clearance documents.
WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya lauded the benefits of Customs administrations taking a lead role in the committees, and stated that "as most of the TFA provisions are related to Customs, it is vital that Customs, as the key implementing agency, take a leading role in the National Committees on Trade Facilitation to ensure adequate implementation of the TFA."