Central American Presidents pledge their support for trade facilitation and competitiveness

01 July 2016

At the invitation of the President of Honduras, Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the Presidential Panel Session during the Business Forum on Trade Facilitation and Competitiveness held in Roatan, Honduras on 29 June 2016.

The Forum was organized by the SIECA (Central American Economic Integration) Secretariat in conjunction with the SICA (Central American Integration) Summit Meeting of the Heads of State/Government of eight Central American countries.  The Panel Session was moderated by Ms. Carmen Gisela Vergara, Secretary General of SIECA, and was attended by Foreign/Trade Ministers and representatives of the business community in Central America.

At the start of the Panel Session, Secretary General Mikuriya made a presentation on how trade facilitation contributes to economic competitiveness, and the role of Customs in this respect.  He commended the efforts made in favour of regional integration in Central America, advanced not only by SIECA's activities but also by the recent formalization of the Guatemala-Honduras Customs Union.  He mentioned the integration of border posts between the two countries, at Agua Caliente, as an example of how Customs can play a role in regional integration.

Secretary General Mikuriya went on to explain the multiple functions of Customs, including revenue collection, the protection of society and security, which were supported by the WCO's global standards that would ensure connectivity at borders.  He made reference to the Mercator Programme, designed to help WCO Members implement the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, the AEO programme to enhance Customs-business partnership, and Digital Customs (including the Single Window and the WCO Data Model for Interconnectivity).  He emphasized that all of these activities require investment in human resources, including the establishment of a career path, training and the provision of adequate remuneration - also important prerequisites for the fight against corruption.

The Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as Mr. José Adán Aguerri, President of the Consultative Council for Economic Integration, responded to the WCO’s call to support Customs modernization.  They acknowledged the importance of cooperation with business and the use of technology, and affirmed their political commitment to improving border procedures in order to enhance competitiveness.



From left to right: WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya, President of the Consultative Council of Economic Integration José Adán Aguerri, President of El Salvador His Exellency Salvador Sanchez Cerén, President of Honduras His Exellency Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Guatemala His Exellency Jimmy Morales and Secretary General of SIECA Ms. Carmen Gisela Vergara.