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Myanmar Customs' reform benefits from political support

22 marzo 2017

At the invitation of Mr. Kyaw Htin, Director General of Myanmar Customs, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Yangon, the economic center and former capital city of the Union of Myanmar and the location of the Customs Department’s Headquarters, and Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s current capital city, from 20 to 22 March 2017 in furtherance of the WCO’s strategic goal of raising Customs’ profile.

In Nay Pyi Taw, Secretary General Mikuriya had a series of meetings with political leaders, including Major General Aung Soe, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Thant Sin Maung, Minister for Transport and Communication, and Mr. U Maung Maung Win, Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance.  Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj. Gen. Soe accompanied by heads of police and representatives from other law enforcement agencies, appreciated the WCO’s explanations on the role of Customs in border security and confirmed that agencies under his authority would arrange a dialogue with Customs at several levels to ensure exchange of information.

For Minister for Transport and Communication Thant Sin Maung, the use of a range of WCO tools would be relevant for the implementation of the Cross-Border Transport Agreement that he would like to activate with Myanmar’s neighbouring countries. He also stressed that the WCO’s assistance in the area of transit would be highly appreciated as Myanmar was looking into the ASEAN Customs Transit system. In addition, as Myanmar is gradually opening its borders after five decades of isolation, Minister Thant Sin Maung emphasized the importance of Customs in assuring connectivity at borders.

Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance pointed out the Myanmar Government's twin deficits regarding its budget, with a tax to GDP ratio of 8%, and its trade with a high trade deficit caused by weak export capacity. He expressed a particular interest in strengthening capacity in the field of Customs valuation and offered his strong political support. Secretary General Mikuriya explained that a variety of WCO tools and programmes are addressing revenue concerns in support to the increasing role of Customs in enhancing economic competitiveness, protecting society and ensuring security.

In Yangon, Secretary General Mikuriya visited the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, which had quickly developed to attract many overseas companies since its establishment one and a half years ago, where Customs has implemented a modern operating model. He also went to see the Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System (MACCS) which was implemented in November 2016 at Customs' Headquarters. In this framework, he had the opportunity to meet with the business community, which underlined the benefits of the introduction of the MACCS, through a drastic acceleration in Customs clearance, as well as an improved business environment thanks to enhanced integrity.