At the invitation of Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Lusaka, Zambia on 8-9 February 2017 to discuss the progress of Customs reform in Zambia and seek more cooperation with COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa).
Secretary General Mikuriya met with the management team of ZRA to discuss progress in Customs reform and modernization including the challenges ahead. Zambia Customs has progressed steadily using the WCO standards and programmes. In relation to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), Zambia has established the National Committee on Trade Facilitation where Customs serves as co-chair in the efforts to improve inter-agency cooperation.
One example of the need for engaging other government agencies (OGA) is the Single Window. Zambia has since appointed the ZRA to be the lead agency for the Single Window project. While an e-payment system was realized for automated Customs procedures linking all 18 commercial banks in the country, other government agencies are yet to implement an e-payment system.
Another challenge is the regional undertaking of trade facilitation measures. As a landlocked country, transit is a priority for Zambia, including exchange of information and cargo targeting system at a regional level. The meeting also touched upon Customs-tax cooperation for the exchange of information between the Customs and tax online systems as well as addressed the subject of cooperation in Value Added Tax and other areas.
Dr. Mikuriya met with H. E. Felix Mutati, Zambian Minister of Finance, to discuss Customs reform and express his appreciation for his strong support for Customs. The Minister agreed to speak at the WCO Global Conference on Transit to be held on 10 and 11 July in Brussels, Belgium this year to share Zambia's experience.
Secretary General Mikuriya visited the COMESA headquarters to explore further cooperation, using the political impetus of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and ongoing economic integration initiatives in Africa. COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Kipyego Cheluget and his team briefed the WCO representatives on recent developments in COMESA and the Tripartite Agreement in terms of trade facilitation measures.
Dr. Mikuriya explained the WCO's programmes and possible contribution to COMESA's initiatives which could also assist the WCO in obtaining best practices. Contact points were appointed and further cooperation was agreed upon.