WCO Members share best practices and foster resilience to combat COVID-19 at dedicated Interregional workshop for African regions

21 December 2020

On 15-18 December 2020 the WCO COVID-19 Project hosted and facilitated the Online Interregional Workshop on Disaster management and Supply Chain Continuity in times of COVID-19 for the Eastern and Southern Western and Central Africa regions. The initiative, supported by the Government of Japan, aims to improve the capacity of Member Customs administrations to address the challenges stemming from COVID-19, other infectious diseases and similar events.

The workshop, attended by more than 60 participants from 25 WCO Member administrations, focused on the response by Customs administrations in the two aforementioned regions to overcome the difficulties resulting from the pandemic and gave ample space to the sharing of national experiences.

Delegates presented the measures and procedures put in place for the protection of citizens and Customs personnel, to support businesses and to ensure supply chain continuity. The meeting noted the quality and diversity of the presentations and welcomed the opportunity provided by the workshop to exchange best practices.

The workshop benefitted from the contribution of WCO partner International Organizations, regional organizations and the private sector, whose representatives provided their expertise, alongside WCO staff, on a number of highly relevant topics, including WCO instruments and tools for natural disaster relief, operational readiness, E-commerce, AEOs, CBM, risk management and business continuity planning.

The meeting agreed on the importance of cooperation and partnerships in the fight against COVID-19, as underlined in the opening remarks by Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, Director of the WCO Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, who stated that, “the WCO supports its Members in developing a coordinated and proactive approach with all concerned agencies, fostering the exchange of best practices and optimizing Customs’ response and ability to ensure the continuity of operations in the aftermath of disasters.”

The consultations carried out with participants during the workshop was instrumental in collecting comments for the further development of the Guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity, a new tool being drafted by the WCO COVID-19 Project and due to be submitted to the Permanent Technical Committee in late spring.

The next event in the COVID-19 Project series will be the Regional Workshop on Disaster Management and Supply Chain Continuity for the Americas and the Caribbean Region that will take place early next year.