Successful WCO Regional Workshop on the TFA and the Mercator Programme for the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Region

01 diciembre 2015

The WCO Regional Workshop on Strategic Initiatives for Trade Facilitation and the Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) – Mercator Programme – for the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Region was held from 17 to 19 November 2015 in Lomé, Togo. It was hosted by the "Office Togolais des Recettes" (OTR – Togo Revenue Authority), and financially supported by China, the United Kingdom, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). More than 80 participants from 22 WCA Customs Administrations (out of 23 Members of this region), Trade Ministries, International Organizations, development partners and the private sector participated in the event.

This Regional Workshop was the last of the in 2014 envisaged six initial regional workshops organized by the WCO in all its regions in the framework of the WCO Mercator Programme. The Workshop was intended to facilitate the exchange of strategic views, experiences and expectations of WCO Members in the WCA region on ways forward towards harmonized and effective implementation of the TFA.

The Workshop was opened by Mr. Sany Yaya, Minister delegate from Togo in charge of Budgeting representing the Minister of State in charge of Economy, Finance and Development Planning, and Mr. Henry Gaperi, General Commissioner of the OTR. Mr. Bernard Zbinden, the WCO Regional Development Manager of the WCA Region, and Mr. Xiang Yang Sun from China Customs introduced the workshop and provided the participants with relevant background and context. Representatives from International Organizations and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), distinguished speakers from development partners and from the private sector provided the participants with topical presentations, and several WCO Members presented their practices and experiences regarding topics such as the National Trade Facilitation Committees (NCTFs), Coordinated Border Management (CBM), Time Release Study (TRS), Transit and Customs–Business Partnership, all of which could support national and/or regional TFA implementation.

The region agreed on next steps forward. These steps include a regional focus on the establishment and maintenance of NCTFs; closer cooperation between Customs and Ministries of Trade to promote optimal implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, active and regular participation of stakeholders in trade facilitation initiatives and of trade ministries and the private sector in the WCO Working Group on the TFA. The region will also promote the implementation of the CBM concept and the sensitize stakeholders on the benefits of the concept. Participants finally recommended to the WCO and the WTO to reaffirm within their policy organs the need for a major role for Customs in the National Trade Facilitation Committees (NCTF).

The Workshop was successfully concluded with positive feedback from all participants including Customs and Trade ministries’ representatives, private sector representatives, International and Regional Organizations and development partners. For all of them, it was an important opportunity and the first time in the WCA region to have representatives from Customs administrations, Trade ministries and the private sector discussing around the same table on issues related to Trade Facilitation.