African Union Heads of Customs committed to boosting intra African trade

06 septiembre 2012

African Union Heads of Customs committed to boosting intra African trade

Ethiopia, 6-7 September 2012

Report

 At the invitation of the African Union Commission, the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, attended the 4th Ordinary Meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs, held at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 6-7 September 2012.

In his keynote address, Secretary General Mikuriya referred to the practical implementation of this year's WCO theme on connectivity which is a key element in enabling Customs to perform their tasks efficiently, consequently boosting trade. The infrastructure at borders needs to be aligned by WCO Members so as to promote connectivity and the Customs process reform. Modern Customs can be the catalyst for increasing trade if the desired level of investment is forthcoming.

Continuing his address, the Secretary General said that the WCO has developed the necessary package of tools, known as the Economic Competitiveness Package, to assist its Members to achieve progress in the development of international trade. The Organization stands ready to assist Members to achieve their goals, including the ambitious initiative of African Heads of State and Government that aims at boosting intra African trade where Customs plays a crucial role.

The Ethiopian State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Abraham Tekeste, welcomed delegates to Ethiopia. While emphasizing that promoting trade was essential to the goal of economic progress and that Customs had a central role to play, he urged Directors General of Customs to work towards this goal.

The African Union (AU) Heads of Customs, meeting under the Chairmanship of Théophile Soussia, Benin’s Director General of Customs, discussed how best to move forward and steer an ambitious agenda to promote intra African trade. Several recommendations emerged and were adopted by the meeting. They concerned the provision of adequate resources, implementation overview by Directors General, progress on draft Protocols on Transit and Origin, enhanced interconnectivity, the development of a continental strategy on integrity, and the identification of capacity building needs to implement the Economic Competitiveness Package.

The meeting was attended by representatives of almost 40 AU Members and international organizations.  Delegates engaged in intensive discussions on a wide range of topics as outlined. The Chair and the AU Commission thanked delegates for their active and positive participation. 

Secretary General Mikuriya also held discussions with the President of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, on matters of mutual interest, in particular the central role of Customs in ensuring the free flow of international trade.