Customs Modernization in East Africa continues

04 September 2010
Customs Modernization in East Africa continues

The 31st of August the 6th Steering Committee Meeting within the WCO-EAC Trade Facilitation and Customs Modernization project was conducted in Kigali, Rwanda. This regional project is one of the components of the SIDA Sub-Saharan contribution. The main objective of the Steering Committee Meeting was to adopt the draft regional Standard Operational Procedures for Risk Management, Post Clearance Audit and AEO based upon regional policies signed and approved during the 5th Steering Committee Meeting in March 2010. The Steering Committee also took the decision to move the project into an operational pilot phase with tests on the ground. A timetable for this next phase was discussed.

During an interactive workshop on the day before the Steering committee meeting, the Customs Commissioners of the EAC countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), the Director Customs from the EAC Secretariat, the Director of the ESA ROCB, the East African Business Community (EABC) and SITPRO, discussed and proposed a number of issues to move the project further with great speed. Namely,
  • Draft SOP’s regarding Risk Management, Post Clearance Audits and Authorized Economic Operators.
  • The governance structure of the programme pre and post of the closure of the project.
  • The content of the MOU that would be issued between the approved AEO companies and the Customs Administrations.
  • The structure, organization and pilot sites of the upcoming pilot.

The overall comments from the participants were that the SOP’s needs to be further developed and detailed, however the present adopted version can be used for the pilot phase. The decision was to consider the SOP’s as guidelines and include them in the policy document. Regarding the content of the MOU the overall impression was that it was a good document. It needs to be developed with the benefits for the business and also it needs to be addressed to the business for their review.For the piloting different pilot sites was proposed by the project based on volumes, country representation and presence of adequate infrastructure. During the discussions it was finally agreed that more background information is needed to take decisions in this issue. The participants requested the project team to develop a detailed methodology to determine pilot sites. The draft should be sent to members for their input and consideration by the Steering Committee.

During the official Steering Committee Meeting the following decisions were taken:

  • The documents (SOP’s) as presented to the SC pass as Standard Operating Guidelines and should be considered as such,
  • The SOG’s as presented should be merged into the policies to form one document with both policy and framework,
  • The process flowcharts should show the linkage between PCA, RM and AEO,
  • The MOU should be reviewed by the legal minds in EAC and consultations conducted with private sector,
  • The Project team should develop a detailed methodology for piloting.