African Union Customs meeting in Cotonou charts its future course

17 septiembre 2013

At the invitation of the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, the Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated in the 5th Meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs with the theme "Towards a trade facilitation strategy as part of the establishment of a continental free trade area", held in Cotonou, Benin on 12 and 13 September 2013. The session was chaired by the Director General of Benin Customs, Mr. Paul Lafia Tabé.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Secretary General Mikuriya explained how the WCO could support regional integration through its tools and capacity building programmes contained in the four WCO Packages dealing respectively with Economic Competitiveness, Revenue, Compliance and Enforcement, and Organizational Development. He also welcomed the strong political will in Benin to reform Customs, including a gradual transfer of powers to Customs in matters related to valuation control and single window management, and the commitment of Customs management to strengthen the integrity of Customs staff. 

After deliberations, the Sub-Committee issued recommendations for its future work, encouraging its Members to ratify the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), undertake a feasibility study on a common single window system taking account of the WCO Single Window Compendium, and develop a Coordinated Border Management policy, among other matters.

Participants met the President of the Republic, Dr. Boni Yayi, at the presidential palace. Acknowledging Customs’ contribution to national prosperity and stability, he praised the technical support delivered by Heads of Customs in the interests of regional integration. He also expressed his appreciation of the WCO’s work in assisting African countries.

In line with efforts to help Benin expedite the process to ratify the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), Secretary General Mikuriya met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nassirou Bako Arifari, who gave an undertaking to hasten the process. He also met the First Vice President of the National Assembly, and former Director General of Customs, Mr. Justin Sagui, who pledged his full support for parliamentary ratification, together with an examination of the draft National Customs Code. In addition, the Secretary General had a meeting with the Minister of Development, Economic Analysis and Prospective, Mr. Marcel Alan de Souza, who promised his complete support for Customs reform and related programmes aimed at enhancing integrity.

Secretary General Mikuriya visited the Port of Cotonou, which recently implemented the highly acclaimed single window system to streamline transport and clearance procedures at that site. This reform will make it easier for Customs to track cargo and manage human resources more effectively.

All the participants applauded Benin Customs for its hospitality and outstanding organization, thanking the President of Benin, Dr. Boni Yayi, for the strong support offered.