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Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa region

30 abril 2018

At the invitation of the WCO Council Vice-Chair, Colonel Major Pierre Da, Director General of Côte d'Ivoire Customs, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 23rd Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa region, held in Conakry (Guinea) from 25 to 27 April 2018.

Mr. Abdoulaye Magassouba, Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Geology, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of Guinea at the opening ceremony. He recognized the important and growing role of Customs in responding to many of the challenges currently facing States in the region, citing among other things the need to manage growth in trade, to secure the global supply chain, to enhance transit procedures and the collection of revenue, to combat transnational crime, to strengthen partnership with the private sector and provide benefits to Authorized Economic Operators, as well as to introduce a continent-wide Free Trade Area in Africa.

Secretary General Mikuriya presented the WCO’s prevailing key priorities:

  • trade facilitation which has taken central stage following the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement ;
  • e-commerce and the response of Customs to ensure appropriate levels of facilitation and compliance, as well as collection of revenue;
  • security and the role of Customs in combating terrorism;
  • Customs-Tax cooperation;
  • illicit financial flows;
  • and performance measurement, including the work being carried out to ensure that the World Bank takes into account Customs' input when preparing the “Doing Business" report.

A possible additional priority was the review of the Revised Kyoto Convention, which would be the subject of a proposal to the Policy Commission in June. Members endorsed the priorities as outlined by the Secretary General.

In the course of the Conference, delegates heard a number of reports on the activities undertaken in the region over the past year and those planned for the coming months. In addition, there was particular focus during the Conference on:

- procedures for importing relief goods, with presentations being made by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the experience of Nigeria and Guinea being shared.

- progress achieved with, and the way ahead for, the "Sécurité par Collaboration (SPC++)" project aimed at combating ongoing insecurity in the region. Its complementary nature with the WCO Security Project was emphasized.

- Human Resources Management (HRM), with a presentation of the achievements and progress of the WCO West African Customs Administrations Modernization Project funded by Sweden.

- the experience of Mercator Programme Advisers from the region in the implementation of the TFA by the Customs administrations of the region.

In addition, delegates were updated on the implementation of the region's Strategic Plan 2013-2017 and they adopted the Plan for the coming five years (2018-2022).

The region elected Mr. Ebenezer Gebding Tafili of Cameroon as the new Head of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) located in Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), taking over from Mr. Souleymane Sangaré who had led the ROCB since its inception and whose substantial contribution to the region's capacity building was widely recognized.

Delegates also unanimously endorsed Guinea and its Director General, Mr. Toumany Sangaré, to be the next WCO Council Vice-Chair for the region.

The President of the Republic of Guinea, His Excellency Alpha Condé, addressed delegates at the closing ceremony. He referred to the key role of Customs in the context of the future Africa-wide Free Trade Area, as well as in combating many of the scourges of our age, including corruption,  drug trafficking, the smuggling of fake medicines and light weapons. Guinea's Minister of Trade, Mr. Marc Yombouno, echoed the words of the President and welcomed the discussion of key issues during the Conference with a view to providing strategic guidance for the international environment.

Delegates expressed their appreciation to the Vice-Chair for the conduct of a successful meeting and addressed special thanks to the Guinea Customs Administration for the warm welcome extended to delegates and for the excellent organization of the Conference.

In the course of the meeting in Conakry, the WCO Security Project for West and Central Africa was launched. This is the subject of a separate Web article.