The WCO holds a second regional consultation on the Strategic Plan with the ESA region

24 September 2021

On 22 and 23 September 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) pursued its regional consultation cycle on the next Strategic Plan with the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region. The session was jointly chaired by the Vice-Chair for the ESA region, Mr. Jephat Mujuru from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa. Approximately 40 participants attended the session, which was held virtually.

In his introductory remarks, the Vice-Chair for the ESA region welcomed the consultative approach adopted by the Secretariat, both for the Environmental Scan and the Strategic Plan, as this would ensure that the strategic direction taken was based on a vision shared by the WCO as a whole and that it was also of relevance at the regional and national levels. He pointed out that when developing the future Strategic Plan, thought had to be given to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on business and society. The WCO Deputy Secretary General concurred that collective wisdom was an essential pillar for the development of the Organization’s strategy, which should be targeted while also striking the right balance between Customs’ core functions and emerging trends that might shape the future.

Participants held very active discussions on what the next Strategic Plan should look like and on its main focus areas. They reiterated the importance of Customs’ core functions, and especially Customs’ role in revenue mobilization. They nevertheless felt that these core functions should be considered from a fresh perspective, taking full account of the current and future impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The ongoing global health crisis had led to a fundamental and long-term rethink of modern societies, with traditional ways of operating being called into question. Participants stressed that Customs’ core functions would have to evolve with global trends, moving towards greater automation. It was therefore appropriate to develop a new Strategic Plan that would equip Customs with the right tools and the right skills to perform their core functions in the “new normal”.

These consultations will define the new WCO Strategic Plan, following the same approach as for the previous strategy and Environmental Scan. Full involvement by Members has already proven invaluable when drafting these documents, ensuring that the entire Organization shares a single vision and is moving towards achieving the same objectives.