East and Southern Africa Region Governing Council Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda

07 May 2018

At the invitation of Mr. Dicksons Kateshumbwa, Vice-Chair for the WCO East and Southern Africa Region and Commissioner of Customs, Uganda Revenue Authority, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 23rd East and Southern Africa Region Governing Council Meeting, held in Kigali, Rwanda on 3 and 4 May 2018.

The meeting was addressed by Dr. Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of Rwanda, who, in the presence of the Minister of Trade, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, and Minister of Cabinet Affairs, emphasized the important role played by Customs in the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) that had taken place at the same venue. He welcomed the WCO’s work in developing strong and resilient Customs capable of meeting future challenges, including those brought about by the CFTA. 

When welcoming delegates, Mr. Tusabe Richard, Commissioner General, Rwanda Revenue Authority, underscored the achievements of and challenges facing Rwanda Customs. He expressed his appreciation for the strong support received from the WCO Secretariat through the many initiatives taken up, especially capacity building support which was important for development in the Region.

The Vice-Chair for the Region, Mr. Kateshumbwa, extended a warm welcome to delegates. In his report, he referred to the outcomes of the December Policy Commission, the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the WCO Capacity Building Committee meeting and Regional Capacity Building events, the AEO Global Conference, the development of a regional strategy, the challenges faced by the CFTA, and the future programme for the Region.

Secretary General Mikuriya updated delegates on developments since the December Policy Commission and Council Sessions, in particular as regards the six priority areas of the Strategic Plan. In relation to E-Commerce, he highlighted the fact that the Council would be invited to approve a high-level Framework of Standards and to extend the Working Group for one more year to finalize the technical details.

The Secretary General was pleased to confirm that, as regards Trade Facilitation, the WCO had been invited to attend the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation. He also updated delegates on Security, and briefed them on his recent presentation to Members of the UN Security Council.

The Secretary General referred to Performance Measurement (discussions on the methodology followed by the World Bank for its  “Doing Business” Report), Customs-Tax Cooperation (Memorandum of Understanding with the IMF), and the continuing analysis of Illicit Financial Flows. He also referred to a possible seventh priority, that of the Revision of the Revised Kyoto Convention. He further updated delegates on the fresh approach taken towards drafting the next Strategic Plan. In response to delegates, he set out the on-going work on the skill sets necessary for future Customs staff and the development of a policy paper on the issues specific to island economies.

Delegates went on to discuss the following issues in a Panel format: (i) Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs Administrations; (ii) Compliance and Enforcement, Opportunities and Challenges, Experience and Best Practices; and, based on a keynote address,(iii) Customs’ Role in Ensuring a Safe and Secure Business Environment. In addition, delegates discussed and approved a new three-year Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, and received and discussed reports on the outcomes of the Audit and Finance Committees, as well as on ROCB activities.

The Region also heard presentations from the candidates for the post of Secretary General.

The Members of the Region and Secretary General Mikuriya expressed their sincere thanks to their Rwandan hosts for the warm reception extended to delegates and excellent organization of the meeting.