WCO launches new Transit Guidelines at the Global Conference on Transit

10 July 2017

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is currently hosting its first Global Conference on Transit at its Headquarters in Brussels.  This event, which comes right after the annual WCO Council Sessions, sees the launch of a new tool for the facilitation of transit and establishment of efficient transit regimes, namely the Transit Guidelines. At the end of the first day of the conference, all the panelists agreed on the usefulness of the Transit Guidelines for further developing and implementing their respective transit systems.  They urged the WCO to continue to update the Guidelines as a platform for future standardisation of transit systems.

Over 200 high-level delegates from more than 80 countries, including heads of Customs administrations, international organizations, development partners, the private sector and academia attended this Conference.  Among the attendees are high-level guests such as the Minister of Finance of Zambia, Mr. Felix Mutati; the Minister in Charge of Customs Cooperation of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Mr. Mukai Kadyrkulov; the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries And Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), Ms. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu; the Senior Vice-President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr. Kenichi Tomiyoshi; the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Mr. Andrey Vasilyev; the Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mr. Wencai Zhang; the Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), Mr. François Davenne,; the Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), Mr. Umberto de Pretto.

The WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya, in his opening speech, highlighted the fact that transit enables not only goods but also countries to draw closer to each other in economic, political and social terms.  The Minister of Finance of Zambia, Mr. Felix Mutati congratulated the WCO for holding such an important conference on Global Transit and added that that the efforts of the WCO towards the improvement of transit systems, simplification and harmonization of Transit rules and the capacity building initiatives supporting LLDCs to prosper together through a concerted effort will ensure an enhancement of revenue for these countries. The Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of UN-OHRLLS, Ms. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, underlined the importance of transit facilitation for economic development of LLDCs as reflected in the Vienna Programme of Action for 2014-2024.  Regional economic communities, such as COMESA, SADC and ECOWAS, confirmed that transit continues to top their regional integration and development agendas for Africa.

Customs administrations are naturally playing a prominent role in the smooth movement of transit goods and, as a result, are in a position to support economic development, particularly in LLDCs.  That is why the WCO began developing the Transit Guidelines with the aim of harmonizing different transit frameworks, unlocking the potential of LLDCs, and taking practical steps towards efficient transit regimes as foreseen by international legal frameworks such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the Vienna Programme of Action, and the Revised Kyoto Convention.  The Transit Guidelines contain 150 guiding principles and a variety of practical experiences of implementing efficient transit regimes, as shared by WCO Members and have been issued in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Russian.