WCO announces trade facilitation capacity building partnerships with the UK Government

10 septiembre 2020

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is pleased to announce two new partnerships with the United Kingdom (UK) Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). These partnerships will leverage the WCO’s instruments, tools, standards and delivery methodologies to advance the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in both middle-income and lower-income countries respectively.

First partnership

The first partnership, funded by the FCDO and supported by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), provides technical assistance and capacity-building to developing countries and most particularly lower-income Countries. Working in close synergy with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the £1.4 million programme is a continuation of the successful collaboration with HMRC, which began in 2015, to support efforts to implement trade facilitation reforms effectively. The renewed HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD partnership will run until April 2022. The WCO is already engaging with countries, including Zambia, Eswatini and Lesotho, to understand the current Customs systems in place and to look at where technical support can be provided, for example in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

William Williamson, Director Customs International, HMRC stated:

“This joint Programme is an illustration of the UK’s continued commitment to, and recognition of, the vital role that Customs administrations play in fostering economic growth and sustainable development through the effective implementation of the TFA – boosting the transparency and predictability of Customs and border processes. The WCO-UK partnership benefits from the WCO’s unique Customs-to-Customs expertise and network of accredited experts from within the global Customs community, including from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and UK Border Force.”

Second partnership

A second partnership with a budget of £1.5 million, the Trade Facilitation Programme in Middle-Income Countries (TFMICs), is being delivered jointly by the World Bank Group and the WCO, with financial support from the cross-government Prosperity Fund as delivered by the FCDO. Following an initial preparatory phase, TFMICs is currently working with Brazil, India, Nigeria, Philippines and South Africa and will run until October 2022. The Programme has a strong gender responsive and inclusive approach – leveraging the WCO’s existing work to advance gender equality and diversity in Customs administrations and related stakeholder engagement. 

Lewis Neal, Director, Economy Diplomacy Directorate, FCDO said:

“Middle-income countries are home to a substantial part of the world’s population and the world’s poor. These economies are major engines of global growth and have significant potential to become trade hubs – generating trade facilitation gains for lower-income countries in their region. To achieve this, reduced red tape at borders is vital to minimize the costs, time and complexity of cross-border trade.”

The WCO Secretary-General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, expressing his appreciation for the UK’s TFA commitment, noted:

“The TFA, now more than ever, remains key for inclusive sustainable economic prosperity. We see that the COVID-19 crisis has enhanced the momentum for trade facilitation reforms still further. It is the swift and ambitious implementation of border reforms that will build the required resilience into the system and help developing countries be better prepared in similar situations, so as to ensure access to essential and humanitarian goods, preserve the safety of those working at the border and, as such, the wider society that they serve, and provide more business continuity – allowing global supply chains and value chains to continue as much as possible and limiting the negative socio-economic impact of the crisis.”

For more information, please contact Ms. Donia Hammami, Executive in Charge of TFMICs & HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programmes, at capacitybuilding@wcoomd.org.