WCO and SACU region celebrate successful conclusion of the regional Customs Modernization Programme

04 December 2018

Back in 2014, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Secretariat and the five Customs administrations of the SACU region (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) embarked on a partnership to support effective implementation of the five-year SACU Customs Modernization Programme.  The partnership came to be known as the WCO-SACU Connect Project and benefitted from the generous financial support of the Government of Sweden.

On 15 and 16 November 2018, the SACU Secretariat hosted the WCO and the five SACU Customs administrations in Windhoek (Namibia), in order to reflect on the achievements, challenges and lessons learned and to receive the Project deliverables as the Project comes to an end in December 2018.  Over the past five years and through the delivery of 114 activities (including 96 on-site activities), the Project has achieved tangible results in the areas of IT Connectivity, Trade Facilitation, Risk Management and Legislative Reform.

In particular, the SACU region has developed its own regional framework for IT Connectivity, based on the WCO Data Model and Globally Networked Customs (GNC), and South Africa and Swaziland have now entered into live data exchange.  The SACU region has also developed a framework for its Regional Preferred Trader Programme (scheme and operating manuals), covering 76 operators, and has trained a critical mass of Preferred Trader auditors to effectively roll out the programme at regional level.

In terms of Risk Management, the SACU region has developed and effectively implemented a Regional Risk Management Package.  This has led to the successful completion of three regional enforcement operations resulting in significant seizures and remarkable levels of revenue recovery.  Thanks to the Project’s momentum, the SACU Member States were all also able to ratify Annex E to the SACU Treaty during the lifetime of the SACU-Connect Project and to modernize their Customs legislative framework. 

The SACU Secretariat  reported that all the Project structures, such as the Regional Working Groups and the Steering Committee, will now be mainstreamed into SACU structures, hence ensuring the sustainability and impact of the Project’s benefits beyond 2018. In handing over the Project deliverables the WCO reaffirmed its commitment to continued collaborate with the SACU Secretariat under the MoU signed in 2010 while SACU Member States remain entitled to benefit from WCO support by the virtue of their membership to the organisation.

For more information about this activity, please contact capacity.building@wcoomd.org.