Mercator Programme: Building Networks, Partnerships and Economies

14 March 2017

The 8th Session of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Capacity Building Committee (CBC) was held from 7 – 9 March 2017 under the theme “Mercator Programme: Building Networks, Partnerships and Economies”. The session brought together more than 230 delegates from Customs administrations, WCO regional structures (ROCBs and RTCs), international organisations, academia and the private sector organisations.

The first day consisted of a Joint Session with the 7th Meeting of the WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group (TFAWG). The opening address by the Deputy Secretary of WCO Mr. Sergio highlighted the significance of the joint session and stressed renewed momentum for implementation of the TFA that entered into force on 22nd February 2017.   The key note address by the Ambassador of Brazil to the EU, His Excellency Ambassador Everton Vieira Vargas, on reinforcing the linkages between trade facilitation and capacity building in the context of stakeholder engagement s set the tone for subsequent discussions that focused on implementation of the TFA.   

The Joint Session discussed the successes of the WCO Mercator Programme, a dedicated Capacity Building Programme to support Members in the harmonized implementation of the TFA using WCO instruments and tools such as the Revised Kyoto Convention, the WCO Time Release Study and the SAFE Framework of Standards.

The Joint Session also endorsed the Mercator Programme’s future operating modalities and delivery plan to further optimize the technical assistance to Members that requested the WCO for support in implementing the TFA.

On day the second day, the CBC appreciated the progress and outcomes in WCO capacity building delivery since the last session. The WCO had delivered more than 330 capacity building missions across WCO regions resulting in an increase of 20% more missions per month compared to the last reporting period.  The CBC acknowledged the importance for administrations to acquire capacities to manage development projects and programmes, particularly for initiatives that demand multi-institutional engagement. A new Project Management training package and the Maturity Model aimed at measuring Member’s progress towards implementation of the TFA were endorsed.

The International Women’s Day on 8th March, which fell on the second day of the CBC session, was celebrated by the WCO with toasts, flowers, and speeches by H. E. Grace M. Mutale Kabwe, Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to Belgium and the EU, the WCO Deputy Secretary General Mr. Sergio Mujica, the Chairperson of the ISC Ms. Sigfrídur Gunnlaugsdottir, and the Director, Compliance & Facilitation Directorate, Ms. Ana Hinojosa.

The CBC also discussed challenges and opportunities of trade facilitation in fragile environments and acknowledged WCO initiatives aimed at contributing to strengthen the capacity and role of customs in re-establishing security and facilitating trade in these areas.

Presentations about how to achieve best possible cooperation between Customs and Tax, whether merged or independently organized, evoked a lot of interest. The results of last year’s survey on gender issues in Customs were presented as were new tools in the area of learning and management.

The CBC concluded on the third day with the second joint session with the Integrity Subcommittee (ISC).  “Collective action to Promote Integrity” was a highly engaging topic of the Joint Session with the ISC.

Mr. Per-Arvid Nordli of Norway was re-elected as chair of the CBC) and Ms. Lizbal Heroe of Sierra Leone was elected as Vice-chair.