HMRC and WCO launch two-year extension of the HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD TFA Implementation Programme at the 132nd Session of the WCO Council

09 July 2018

On the 29 June 2018, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) signed a grant agreement valued at £1.6 million as part of a two-year extension of the HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Trade Facilitation implementation programme. This renewed Programme is designed to support selected developing countries in the Commonwealth to effectively implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA), using WCO’s international standards and tools under the auspices of the WCO Mercator programme, in close coordination with a separate funding envelope to deliver UNCTAD’s Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTCFs). The funding was announced by the Right Honourable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) summit, where the Prime Minister emphasized the United Kingdom’s ongoing commitment to support customs administrations in least-developed countries to assist the implementation of the TFA.

This partnership builds on the successful outcomes of the previous HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programme (2015-2018) which supported tangible TFA reforms, including the first-ever risk-based selectivity in Sudan, the first-ever advance rulings in Ethiopia and the accession of Afghanistan to the Arusha Declaration on integrity in Customs matters. In addition, the HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD programme has pioneered key elements of the operating model for the tailor-made track of the Mercator Programme, which is now operating in more than 40 WCO members. Moving forward, the programme continues to be uniquely placed to deliver against the ambition of the TFA on the basis of tailor-made interventions, and peer-to-peer support from serving Customs officers to meet the specific requirements of individual countries. A pool of WCO accredited experts, including officials from HMRC and the UK Border Force, will be deployed on regular basis to deliver technical assistance to support the Programme, while dedicated experts covering the most complex provisions of the TFA will provide a rich technical foundation and a basis for continuity in capacity building support.

William Williamson, Director of Customs and Indirect Tax, who signed the grant agreement on behalf of the HMRC remarked that: “The UK has a long tradition of supporting our fellow customs administrations through capacity-building, and I am pleased to be able to commit a further £3m for the delivery of our second phase of programme support over the next 2 years. Supporting our Commonwealth partners in building sustainable customs capability has long-term strategic benefits for the UK. It also creates the opportunity to provide HMRC and Border Force Customs and international trade professionals with a unique experience to develop further their expertise.”

The WCO thanks HMRC for their continuous collaboration and looks forward to continue delivering support to its Members under the extended programme.