WCO successfully facilitates a WTO TFA scoping mission in South Africa

30 November 2017

At the request of South Africa Revenue Service (SARS), the WCO conducted a scoping mission aiming to familiarize SARS with the operating model for the WCO Mercator Programme, to assess the current trade facilitation situation in SARS, and to make recommendations for an implementation plan. The mission took place from 20 to 24 of November 2017 in Pretoria.

This scoping mission was conducted specifically in response to the SARS requests made under the WCO-ESA Project II “to progress the trade facilitation agenda under the framework of the Mercator Programme in East and Southern Africa Region 2016-2019 funded by the Finish Government”.  The WCO Mercator Programme was launched to ensure uniform implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), using the WCO instruments and tools. The Programme provides tailor-made support that takes into account local conditions and environment for implementing trade facilitation measures

During the time in country, the WCO mission team had opportunities to discuss the alignment of SARS legislation with the international obligations of the TFA, brief the SARS Chief Officers on the mission objectives, and participate in briefings on the progress on the Regional Training Center (RTC) as a Center of Excellence on the WCO Organizational Development Package inter alia.  Based on the SARS presentations on Single Window development, Risk Management, Post Clearance Audit, Authorized Economic Operator, information exchange and engaging with other Stakeholders, the WCO mission team was able to develop a better understanding of SARS current progress towards the complete implementation of the TFA provisions.

At the mission’s end, the team concluded that SARS had achieved significant outcomes through its efforts in aligning binding obligations with the WTO TFA which entered into force since 22 February 2017.  In addition, the team had a chance to share with SARS senior officials its preliminary recommendations and suggestions based on SARS input to the mission.

The WCO mission team expressed its gratitude to SARS for making the scoping mission a success and will continue its efforts under the WCO Mercator Programme Tailor-made track to assist SARS in the final implementation of the TFA and other related capacity building initiatives.