WCO Supports Customs in Mauritius to Set up a Centralized Enquiry Point

24 June 2016

At the invitation of Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) the WCO with the support of China Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF China) assisted the MRA Customs department in developing an implementation plan for the setting up of an Enquiry Point in accordance with Article 1.3 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA).

The workshop took place from 6th to 10th June 2016, at the WCO-ESA Regional Training Centre located at the Custom House, Port Louis.

In his keynote address during the official opening of the workshop, Mr. Sudhamo Lal, the Director General of the MRA, highlighted that Mauritius was the fourth country to submit its Instrument of Acceptance of the WTO TFA and the first African country to submit the Category "A" list of the WTO ATF provisions that it will implement upon entry into force of the Agreement.

Article 1.3, which requires WTO Member States to have one or more Customs enquiry points, is one of the six provisions of the Agreement that Mauritius has categorized under Category "C" and thus the reason for requesting technical assistance from the WCO.

Participants to the workshop, which included Customs officers as well as some 28 government and private stakeholders, were given an overview of the WTO TFA laying emphasis on Article 1.3 as well as the various instruments and tools developed by the WCO in respect to communication. The Customs officers assisted to forge a picture of the current information processes in place and the stakeholders provided valuable inputs on existing gaps as well as suggested improvements that, in their view, should be brought to the MRA Customs information dissemination system.

The findings of the various interactive sessions pointed, inter alia, to the need for centralization of the processes for handling requests for information and also the requirement of experienced officers with sound interpersonal skills to do the job. It was concluded that a centralized enquiry point will be beneficial in many aspects.

An implementation Plan and an Action Plan for the setting up of a Centralized Enquiry point was drafted by a small team of officers of the Trade Facilitation & Customs Cooperation Section. The work was facilitated by the WCO experts. The plans were presented to the MRA Customs Management team on the final day of the workshop and also officially handed over to the Director Customs.