3rd WCO Regional Workshop on the TFA for the MENA Region held in Bahrain

05 June 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 North Africa, Near and Middle East was held from 1 to 4 June 2015 in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. The MENA region TFA Workshop, the third in a row of regional TFA awareness raising workshops, was hosted by the Customs Department of Bahrain and supported by the Customs Cooperation Fund of Japan and the Islamic Development Bank. The Workshop brought together around 40 delegates from Customs and Trade ministries.

The Workshop was opened by the WCO Vice-Chair of the MENA region, Director General of Bahrain Customs Mr. Sh. M. Al Khalifa who welcomed the participants to the Workshop whose objective was to allow for the exchange of strategic views, experiences and expectations from the Members of the MENA region on the way forward in terms of effective and harmonized implementation of the TFA.

The Workshop focused on the TFA and the role of Customs and the WCO in implementing the Agreement, on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building, including next steps in TFA implementation and the Mercator Programme, on cooperation with Other Governmental Agencies and the private sector focusing also on the involvement in National Committees on Trade Facilitation, and on case studies by Members, article by article.

The Workshop raised a lot of interest and active discussions. The participants expressed their appreciation for the work already carried out by the WCO in terms of supporting its Members in their preparations for implementation of the Agreement, as well as in supporting Customs’ involvement already previously during the WTO negotiations. They also used this opportunity to enquire about the implications of some of the provisions in the TFA such as pre-shipment inspection, Customs brokers, risk management, single window and others. Delegates also felt that the WCO should become even more involved in the WTO Preparatory/Trade Facilitation Committee. A number of Members shared their national experience on National Committees on Trade Facilitation and strongly encouraged Customs to be actively involved.

During the Workshop, the representative of Japan Customs announced the ratification of the TFA by Japan which was well received by the participants. The Workshop was successfully concluded with positive feedback from delegates.