WCO Secretary General addresses the AfCFTA Ministerial Meeting in Ghana

28 July 2022

At the invitation of the H.E Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), spoke at the opening session of the 9th AfCFTA Council of Ministers meeting, which took place on 25 and 26 July 2022 in Accra, Ghana.

During the meeting, the AfCFTA Secretariat reported major strides towards achieving the African common market: 54 signatories of the agreement, 43 states had ratified the agreement, and 46 schedules deposited.

In his opening speech, Secretary General Mikuriya emphasized Customs’ importance in implementing trade agreements, basing their operations on international standards developed by the WCO, including the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework of Standards, that would ensure connectivity at borders. He mentioned the HS and Rules of Origin and how the WCO had been able to support the AfCFTA, leading to the launch of the E-Tariff Book and the Rule of Origin Manual as concrete examples of cooperation. He informed ministers of the recent WCO Council sessions' focus on data strategy, green Customs, and fragile borders. In conclusion, he stated that there remained much room to enhance collaboration between Customs and trade ministries to achieve the common goal of a prosperous and integrated Africa and asked for political support of trade ministers present in this respect.

Secretary General Mikuriya seized the opportunity to visit the port of Tema, to appreciate the progress in the implementation of the Ghanaian Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) and the airport Customs to see the e-commerce operations and the Customs Laboratory. He also held discussions with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) management team and the GRA Board Chair.