African Union Directors General of Customs Meeting reviews AU Guidelines on COVID-19

30 November 2020

At the invitation of the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, H.E Albert M. Muchanga, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, spoke at the AU Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs Meeting held online on 27 November 2020.  The Meeting listened to a WCO presentation on the role of Customs in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and considered the draft AU Guidelines on Trade and Transport Facilitation for the Movement of Persons, Goods and Services across Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In his opening speech, Dr. Mikuriya shared the WCO initiatives to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and commended the AU’s efforts to develop its own Guidelines with a wider scope of application and not restricted solely to Customs activities.  He welcomed the strong synergy between the AU Guidelines and the WCO Guidelines, both of which were under development, suggested that the AU align its Customs-related content with the WCO Guidelines, and proposed that the WCO look into the AU Guidelines to explore ways of collaborating with other stakeholders, in line with the WCO Coordinated Border Management concept.

Secretary General Mikuriya also stressed the importance of collaboration with other supply chain actors, including other government agencies, international organizations and businesses, in developing the Guidelines and enhancing cooperation with Africa’s Regional Economic Communities to ensure implementation of the Guidelines.  He reiterated the WCO’s commitment to supporting the development and implementation of the AU Guidelines and other AU activities in the Customs field.

The AU Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs then held the annual election of its Bureau, and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Abel Kagumire, handed over the chairmanship to Mr. Sydney Chibbabbuka, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner Customs Services, who chaired the Meeting. The AU Commission was represented by the Head of Industry, AU Department of Trade and Industry, Mr. Hussein Hassan.  The WCO Secretariat offered strategic advice on the draft AU Guidelines during the Meeting.