Belize Customs and Excise Department joins the WCO Mercator Programme

09 November 2018

Following a successful combined TFA scoping, Programme planning and Post Clearance Audit (PCA) diagnostic mission conducted in Belize from  22-26  October, the WCO is pleased to welcome the Belize Customs and Excise Department as one of the newest beneficiaries of the tailor-made track of the Mercator Programme. The Mercator Programme is designed to support WCO members to successfully implement the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation through the effective application of WCO instruments and tools. This combined TFA scoping and PCA diagnostic mission was funded by the Government of the United Kingdom through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs under the framework of the extended HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programme, as well as the USAID who funded the participation of two experts from the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP).

Considering the complexity of implementing the TFA provisions and the unique approach of the WCO Customs to Customs capacity building model, the mission included extensive consultations with different units of the Belize Customs and Excise Department, along with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Spanish Lookout Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, and the Ministry of Finance as well as other cross-border regulatory and trade promotion agencies comprising the Belize National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC). The dialogue aimed at identifying areas where the WCO could complement existing domestic and internationally-supported initiatives and add technical value through the effective application of WCO instruments and tools and the mobilization of the WCO’s extensive network of Customs-to-Customs expertise. In parallel, the PCA diagnostic team engaged extensively with the PCA unit, as well as the Legal and IT department. Discussions covered a wide range of technical issues, including risk management, measurement of release times, the Trusted Trader Programme, front line operations and Single Window initiatives. Furthermore, visits were made to the border post between Belize and Guatemala, the air cargo operations and the port in Belize City, which provided an opportunity for the mission team to directly observe border processes in practice.

As a result of the exchange, a comprehensive assessment was made of trade facilitation initiatives in Belize, along with the identification of current needs and challenges requiring prioritized capacity building and technical assistance. The observations and recommendations gathered through the week’s mission will be consolidated into a multi-year Mercator Implementation Plan in keeping with the tailor-made track approach. In addition, a separate PCA diagnostic report will be developed, outlining specific recommendations in this area. The forward Mercator activities will be aligned and coordinated with support provided by other development partners to the greatest extent possible. The WCO looks forward to implementing a collaborative multi-year capacity engagement with the Belize Customs and Excise Department in keeping with the unique and successful approach of the WCO’s Mercator Programme.