East and Southern Africa Governing Council Meeting

27 May 2016

At the invitation of Mr. Thomas Moyne, Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 21st Governing Council Meeting on 26 and 27 May 2016. The Meeting was hosted by the Lesotho Revenue Authority in the capital Maseru, and was chaired by Chief Officer of SARS Mr. Jed Michaletos.

Opening the meeting Mr. Realeboha Mathaba, Acting Commissioner General of the Lesotho Revenue Authority, expressed the view that the challenges facing Customs could be best addressed by cooperation, with an emphasis on strengthened regional cooperation, and the implementation of WCO standards. Furthermore, introduction of the AEO and Post Clearance Audit programmes would complement and support the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was expected to bring enormous benefits to the global trading community once fully implemented. 

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Tšoeu Mokeretla, Minister for Public Works and Transport, acknowledged the broad scope of Customs activity which varies according to each country’s stage of development. He recognised the importance of the implementation of WCO Global standards to work towards the achievement of an optimal Customs administration, striving to protect society, collect revenue, facilitate trade, and implement coordinated border management practices. Digital Customs was an essential component in the achievement of such objectives.

Secretary General Mikuriya highlighted the relevance of the Punta Cana Resolution, in particular in the aftermath of recent terrorist events, and the crucial role Customs plays in the fight against international terrorism.  In a wide-ranging address the Secretary General updated delegates on many current activities including the outcomes of the recent successful AEO Conference held in Mexico, progress on the security program (API/PNR, programme Global Shield on Improvised Explosive Devices, firearms and terrorist financing), actions to counteract illicit trade in wildlife, Cultural Heritage and the preparation of a Police/Customs Handbook, discussions with OECD (including on illicit money flows) and the IMF (Customs within a Revenue Authority), implementation of the trade facilitation agenda, Capacity Building (referencing the proposal raised at the WCO Finance Committee to create a WCO Customs Cooperation Fund), e-Commerce and Digital Customs.

Mr. Mikuriya invited Members to support the upcoming Information Technology Conference to be held in Senegal, and the Knowledge Academy scheduled to take place at WCO Headquarters in July. He thanked Members for their continued support. 

A range of issues were discussed during the course of the Meeting, including a comprehensive report from the Regional Vice-Chair covering a broad range of topics, in particular the possibility of enhancing the role of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB)  and Capacity Building initiatives, and topics arising from the outcomes of the December 2015 Policy Commission. The Governing Council also discussed the budget and strategic plan of the ROCB, Digital Customs, Finance and Audit Committee Reports, Regional Intelligence Liaison Office Report, governance and Performance Measurement. 

Secretary General Mikuriya joined delegates in expressing his gratitude to the Lesotho Revenue Authority for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to delegates, and the excellent organisation of the Meeting.

During his time in Lesotho, Secretary General Mikuriya met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Trade, and the Acting Minister for Finance of Lesotho and discussed a broad array of Customs-related topics.  

The Governing Council was preceded by meetings of the Regional Steering Group and the Heads of Regional Training Centres.