WCO renews commitment to support implementation of Vienna Programme of Action

09 December 2019

WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 6 December 2019 to participate in an interactive panel discussion to promote trade, trade facilitation and structural economic transformation in Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). The panel discussion was held as part of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for LLDCs for the decade 2014 – 2024. High-level speakers from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also contributed to the panel deliberations.

At the opening of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review on 5 December 2019, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, while acknowledging the challenges faced by LLDCs, underscored the importance of partnerships for the implementation of the VPoA. “We have the tools to eliminate distance and inefficiencies. We also have the framework”, said the UN Secretary-General. He also highlighted the value of forging greater coherence and synergy among the Vienna Programme, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and other relevant international frameworks.

During the interactive panel discussion on 6 December 2019, Dr. Mikuriya spoke of the WCO’s contribution to the implementation of the VPoA over the 5-year period since its adoption, underscored the importance of simplified and harmonized Customs procedures for facilitating trade in LLDCs and transit developing countries, and highlighted some of the WCO instruments, tools and programmes that enable the implementation of the VPoA. He reconfirmed the WCO’s strong commitment to supporting the implementation of the Programme of Action.

In partnership with the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Road Transport Union (IRU), on 6 December 2019 the WCO organized a side-event to the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review. During the side-event, devoted to the modernization of transit processes, the WCO presented its instruments, tools and initiatives aimed at transit facilitation.

The WCO contributes to improving transit systems for LLDCs by setting standards for simplified and harmonized border procedures, delivering capacity building projects and enhancing cooperation and coordination with other development partners. The WCO launched its Transit Handbook at the Second UN Conference on LLDCs in November 2014, that also witnessed the adoption of the VPoA. In July 2017, the WCO organized the first Global Conference on Transit and launched the WCO Transit Guidelines. Both tools support the implementation, in a harmonized manner, of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.  

Following the launch of the Transit Guidelines, the WCO delivered regional workshops for all six WCO regions to promote the implementation of the Guidelines, further discuss challenges and possible solutions, and collect regional and national best practices in the area of transit. The six regional workshops were attended by a total of 260 participants, including private sector representatives and participants from partner international organizations, regional organizations and development partners. The WCO is currently compiling a Compendium of Best Practices in the Area of Transit, aimed at supporting Members with practical examples of how to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of transit regimes.

In the capacity building domain the WCO has also established a pool of English- and French-speaking accredited experts, including a good number of experts from LLDCs and transit developing countries.

The outcome of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review is the A/74/L.7 Political Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The “Call for action” section of the Political Declaration includes a call upon the United Nations system and other relevant international and regional organizations to provide policy, analytical and technical support towards the development, functioning and management of corridors. The Political Declaration also encourages LLDCs, with the support of their development and trade partners, to reduce “before the border” trade costs by improving transport networks and Customs procedures, as well as by the application of technology-driven and information and communications technology solutions to expedite international trade.