WCO efforts appreciated at the Meeting of Trade Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries

23 June 2016

At the invitation of Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations Office for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the opening session of the fifth Meeting of Trade Ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) held at Geneva, Switzerland from 23 to 24 June 2016.

Together with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and other heads of international organizations, Secretary General Mikuriya emphasized the importance of effective transit regimes in line with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) adopted in 2014 at the Vienna Conference on LLDCs.

Secretary General Mikuriya stated that Customs administrations provide the infrastructure for trade by ensuring connectivity at borders. Given the particular economic benefits for LLDCs, the WCO considers transit as a priority issue and therefore published the WCO Transit Handbook in 2014. As a follow up, the WCO is now developing the Transit Guidelines, which have clear guiding principles and recommended practices for transit regimes, in close cooperation with other international organizations, based on best practices of transit countries and landlocked countries.

To develop the Transit Guidelines, the WCO will organize a workshop on transit from 27 June at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The UNOHRLLS, the WTO, UNCTAD, UNECE and other development partners will send their experts to the workshop. He also announced that the Global Conference on Transit would be held on 10 July 2017 to launch the new Transit Guidelines.

Secretary General Mikuriya presented the WCO Mercator Programme, which is delivering tailor-made capacity building assistance for national Customs administrations. In this connection, the WCO organized more than 30 capacity building missions in the past a year and a half. Through those capacity building activities, the WCO is helping countries to bring improved connectivity for purposes of regional integration.

The WCO is also working with Western African countries which has resulted in standardized electronic data sets for facilitating transit trade, and which will be used by the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) for 15 countries in Western Africa. The WCO is supporting a similar inter-connectivity project in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which has 5 countries. In addition, the WCO is developing a regional AEO programme with the East African Community (EAC) to connect businesses along transit corridors.

In his concluding remarks, Secretary General Mikuriya confirmed that the WCO would continue to develop international standards for effective transit regimes and trade facilitation, deliver tailor-made capacity building for LLDCs, and enhance cooperation with all stakeholders.