The WCO COVID-19 Project kicks off its series of regional workshops starting with the Asia-Pacific region

07 December 2020

In the framework of the newly launched WCO COVID-19 Project funded by the Government of Japan that aims to improve the capacity of Members Customs administrations to address the challenges stemming from COVID-19, other infectious diseases and similar incidents, an Online Regional Workshop on Disaster Management and Supply Chain Continuity for the Asia Pacific Region took place from 30 November to 3 December 2020. 

The Workshop aimed to support Members in fostering synergies with all concerned agencies, including the exchange of best practices and optimizing Customs’ response and ability to ensure the continuity of operations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and other disruptive events.

The initiative was the first in a series of four workshops and brought together more than 45 participants from 23 Members’ Customs administrations of the AP Region involved in the setting up and implementation of their countries’ measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters.

“The COVID-19 Project aims to tackle different aspects of natural disaster relief, to involve WCO Members in inclusive, comprehensive and effective activities and provide them with practical solutions tailored to local needs” Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, Director of the WCO Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, stated in his opening remarks. The opening ceremony was then followed by eight sessions covering the main phases of natural disaster management by Customs, with a special focus on national approaches to ensure the expedited movement of relief and essential goods and the continuity, stability and security of the supply chain during the ongoing pandemic.

The panel featured high-level speakers, including national delegates, representatives from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Connecting Business Initiative Philippines.  The Workshop was supported by the WCO Asia Pacific Regional Office for Capacity Building.

The WCO is working towards developing its Guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity. These will complement previous work in the area of disaster relief and aim to introduce updated digital procedures as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic drawing on stakeholders’ best practices.

The Workshop drew on WCO participant Members’ expertise to further develop this innovative tool, making it relevant for the specific Region and beyond, while reflecting and acknowledging national priorities and raising awareness of the contribution made by Customs administrations in the protection of citizens and businesses.

The next event in the COVID-19 series will be the Online Interregional Workshop on Disaster Management and Supply Chain Continuity for the Eastern and Southern Africa and Western and Central Africa Regions that will take place from 15 to 18 December.

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