The WCO supports Gambia Revenue Authority and stakeholders in the preparation of the Time Release Study (TRS)

20 March 2019

From 4 to 8 February 2019 in Banjul (Gambia), the World Customs Organization (WCO) held a National Workshop to raise awareness of and prepare for the Time Release Study (TRS). This five-day Workshop was organized, with financial support from the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), for the benefit of managerial staff from the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) and the stakeholders. The Workshop was led by three Experts from the WCO Secretariat in Brussels and from the Customs Administrations of Cameroon and Mauritius.

The Workshop benefited for the opening remarks from Mr. Yankuba DARBOE, the Commissioner General of GRA who, among others, thanked all the agencies that agreed to participate in the workshop, and emphasized the positive collaboration that has been enduring amongst the border agencies in Gambia. He then thanked the WCO and German Government for the strong support and urged the participants to actively contribute to and benefit from this important training, while hoping for fruitful and concrete outcomes. The Workshop also benefited from the contribution of the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Regional Office of Capacity Building (ROCB) through the active contribution of Mr. Tafili Ebenezer Gending (Director of the ROCB).

The sessions of days one and two of the Workshop were dedicated to the sensitization of more than 50 Customs officials and representatives of the stakeholders involved in the goods clearance process and enabled them to have a clear understanding of the benefits of TRS as a performance measurement and trade facilitation tool.

The rest of the five-day Workshop enabled a core group of 25 participants to develop an initial draft of the procedures for releasing goods. This major part of the Workshop included, among others, a presentation of the TRS methodology, following the version 2 & 3 of the WCO’s Guide, and also gave participants the opportunity to work with the WCO’s TRS software and draft an action plan. According to the draft action plan, it is expected that GRA and the stakeholders will conduct the TRS in the near future so as to establish a baseline for appreciation of trade facilitation in Gambia and for further recommendations towards the improvement of the business environment.

It is important to mention that Gambia is working hard at the implementation of trade facilitation measures and provisions included in WCO instruments and tools. Therefore, carrying out its TRS will enable this Country to comply with the requirements of Article 7.6 of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) for which WTO Members are encouraged to measure and publish their average release time of goods periodically and in a consistent manner, using tools such as, inter alia, the Time Release Study of the World Customs Organization (WCO). Gambia has acceded to the TFA in 11 July 2017.

In his closing speech to the Workshop, the Commissioner General of GRA, stressed the importance of this activity, which will enable his Administration and the stakeholders to identify procedural bottlenecks affecting the release and clearance of goods and, above all, to work together on solutions to facilitate trade and improve the business climate. He again thanked the WCO and GIZ for the timely support within the framework of the implementation of the WTO TFA.

Participants regarded the Workshop as a great success that significantly enhanced their understanding of the WCO TRS guide and methodology. The WCO looks forward to continuing to provide its support to GRA.