MENA Heads of Customs discuss priorities and cooperation

02 March 2020

At the invitation of  Mr. Ahmed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Customs and WCO Vice-Chair for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio  Mikuriya attended the Regional Meeting of Directors General of Customs held in Cairo, Egypt on 1 March 2020.  The Meeting brought together representatives from 16 Members of the region, the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and the League of Arab States.

The Office of the Vice-Chair presented an update on WCO activities, including the outcomes of the 82nd Session of the WCO Policy Commission held in December 2019 in Seoul, Republic of Korea, the pilot project on the use of additional languages at the WCO and the WCO Strategic Plan for 2019-2022.  With regard to the Strategic Plan, the Secretary General outlined the key activities being implemented under its nine priority areas. He drew participants’ attention to the Environmental Scan as a key strategic document for identifying priority areas of work and highlighted the importance of Communications in the Customs context. Lastly, Dr. Mikuriya introduced the WCO’s theme for 2020: Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet. He concluded by underscoring the high priority to be given by Customs to environmental protection.

Members also discussed the topic of transit and the work underway concerning the study of systems for electronic cargo tracking, exchange of electronic certificates of origin, and electronic exchange of information in general.

The ROCB reported on its recent activities and participants expressed their support for the establishment of a more sustainable approach to capacity building in the region, including the requirement to enhance the needs assessment process and increase the pool of available experts to support the delivery of activities.

Members welcomed the official establishment of a new WCO Regional Training Centre (RTC) in Kuwait, and acknowledged the hope expressed by Qatar Customs to have its facilities recognized as a WCO RTC in the near future.

Photos