Mercator Programme

A WCO Initiative to Support WTO TFA Implementation

1. In June 2014, the WCO launched the Mercator Programme to ensure uniform implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), using the WCO instruments and tools as most of the TFA provisions relate to Customs.

2. The WCO established the Working Group on the Implementation of the TFA (TFAWG), inviting Member Customs administrations, trade ministry representatives, international organizations relevant to border management, the private sector, academia and other stakeholders. The TFAWG meets twice a year with more than 200 delegates in attendance at each session. It has examined each article of the TFA and developed new tools for the uniform implementation of provisions of the TFA, drawing on the existing WCO instruments, tools and best practices of Members. 

Tailored Support

3. The Mercator Programme provides tailor-made support that takes into account local conditions and environment for implementing trade facilitation measures.  The WCO moves on to this tailor-made assistance for countries that need strategic advice in the following manner.

  • Provide analysis of all previous needs assessments by various organizations to consolidate a comprehensive plan and roadmap for implementing the TFA;
  • Conduct TRS to set baseline data for the future improvement, involving Customs, other government agencies (OGA) and the private sector;
  • Support the establishment of NCTF as a platform for coordination, including the planning, analysis and developing a reform plan for implementing TFA involving a range of stakeholders;
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress of the recipient countries in implementing TFA.  Performance measurement, including TRS, is employed to ensure result-oriented assistance;
  • Use the WCO forum to collect and share practices of TFA implementation in cooperation with the WTO;
  • Organize regional/national donor conferences to match the needs of recipient countries and donor funding.

Why connect with the WCO to implement the WTO TFA?

4. The Mercator Approach ensures results-based management and performance measurement forms an integral part of monitoring implementation plans and activities, including in the area of Time Release Studies (TRS). 

5. The WCO capacity building operational platform is already tested and consolidated and it is at disposal of the Mercator Programme, including its regional structures (Regional Offices for Capacity Building and Regional Training Centres).

6. Development partners and donor institutions that may wish to partner with the WCO may contact the Office of External Relations (

For further information on the Mercator Programme: