Newest WCO Member – Antigua & Barbuda – benefits from Mercator Programme

01 December 2017

In November 2017, the WCO provided strategic support to the Antigua and Barbuda Customs and Excise Department under the Mercator Programme.  A team of WCO experts met with senior officials, front-line officials, and made site visits to operational and commercial areas to evaluate reforms for modernizing Customs and implementing the WTO TFA.

Prior to the mission the Antigua & Barbuda Customs officials prepared plans, statistics and responses to specific WCO questions. This documentation was assessed and aided preparations of the schedule and meeting key stakeholders.

The in-country component of the evaluation looked at holistic organizational issues using as references the WCO Diagnostic Framework and building blocks identified in the “Customs in the 21st Century” policy statement. Examples of reform and modernization achievements included advances in the management of trade information, clearer legislative controls and increased information technology (IT) efficiencies.

As part of the in-country assessment, the WCO experts met with many stakeholders involved in Customs border management – both from within Customs as well as from the Private Sector and other external stakeholders. During meetings with private sector stakeholders, for example, feedback included appreciation for better trade facilitation and satisfaction being involved early in policy and legislation development.

Customs plays a key role in Antigua and Barbuda. This was underscored when the WCO officials were invited to provide an executive summary briefing of the mission to the Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Legal Affairs, National Security and Labour, and acting Prime Minister, the Honorable Mr. Steadroy Benjamin. He stated that he was very supportive of Antigua and Barbuda becoming a Member of the WCO and looked forward to close cooperation in the future. At the meeting it was recognized that the direction Customs is taking is the right path, however, work in many areas at many levels is still required.