WCO East and Southern Africa Region conduct Workshop on practical implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

30 September 2016

The WCO East and Southern Africa (ESA) region held a second regional Workshop on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement from 20 to 23 September 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana. The Workshop was coordinated by the WCO and ESA Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) through the kind sponsorship of UK DFID and hosted by the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS). About 50 participants including 19 ESA Member administrations and other regional stakeholders were in attendance – Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the private sector and development partners.

This Workshop focused above all on discussions related to the practical implementation of the TFA measures under Articles 1 to 12 of the WTO TFA, and the WCO instruments and tools available to support governments with uniform implementation of the TFA. The importance of establishing National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) and the critical role that this Committee plays as an obligatory national body was well discussed. The experiences shared by Members on the implementation of the TFA enhanced the cross-fertilization of ideas on the challenges as well as on successful policy measures which could be adopted by Member administrations to support national TFA implementation programmes.

In his opening address, Mr. B. M. Mudongo, General Manager of the Customs Division of BURS welcomed the participants on behalf of the Commissioner, BURS. He noted the importance of using the Workshop as a good opportunity to take stock of the work undertaken collectively by the WCO, its Members and partners in terms of support for implementation of the WTO TFA. He also pointed out that the Agreement requires an inclusive government implementation approach.

The ESA region through the ROCB evaluated the discussions and outcomes of this second Workshop and concluded that implementation of the TFA remained critical to the region, especially in light of the low levels of intra-regional trade in East and Southern Africa. Considering that only 7 out of 24 countries in the region had ratified the TFA, Members were urged to influence, to the best of their abilities, their respective national processes towards ratification. The WCO, ROCB and the RECs were encouraged to find synergies to support the needs identified by Members with technical assistance, notably in the following areas: the establishment of NCTFs, accession to the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the development of road maps for implementation of the TFA. The region also agreed on the need for a strong monitoring and evaluation framework to report on the implementation and progress of the TFA in the region.

The WCO representative expressed clearly the WCO commitment to assist its Members in the Region to further enhance the implementation of TFA by using the WCO instruments and tools, and reiterated the consistent support of the WCO for the regional efforts in putting the process forward.

The Workshop was successfully concluded and the outcomes of will provide valuable inputs for the development the ESA Region Strategy and Implementation Plan 2017 - 2022.