WCO Strategic Plan 2022-2025: completion of three successful Workshops on strategic foresight for the ESA, A/P and WCA regions

04 December 2020

Consultation with Members on the future WCO strategy continued with the East and Southern Africa (ESA), the Asia/Pacific (A/P) and the West and Central Africa (WCA) regions, through virtual meetings held respectively on 16-17 November, 18-19 November and 30 November-1 December 2020.  These workshops on strategic foresight followed the first of the cycle held with the MENA region, and similar exercises will follow for Europe and AMS regions on the beginning of 2021.

The Regional Workshops offer the opportunity to all WCO Members to contribute to the development of the next Environmental Scan, which will follow a strategic foresight approach and constitute the basis of the Strategic Plan covering the years 2022-2025. Members are invited to present their regional considerations with regard to current and upcoming threats, opportunities and trends.

The WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, as the convener of these regional workshops on strategic foresight, expressed his appreciation to ESA, A/P and WCA, and especially to the Vice-Chairs for their commitment and support in the organization of the meetings. He regretted not being able to physically meet and hoped to be able to conduct official visits again in a near future. For each of the workshops, he presented in detail the plans of the Secretariat to develop a new strategy based on world trends and scenarios of potential futures, explaining that foresight was not forecast.

The ESA Workshop was jointly chaired by Mr. Phodiso Valashia, Commisioner of Botswana Customs and WCO Council Vice-Chair for the ESA region, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General.  The Vice-Chair for the ESA region welcomed the opportunity to address the future of Customs through strategic foresight, stating that well-performing Customs were essential for economic and social developments and to build trust with their governments. He considered that the degree to which Customs would be able to handle emerging opportunities and challenges would determine their future. Members of the region particularly insisted on the need to ensure stability in changing political landscape, to keep legislations up-to-date and Customs officers adequately trained to face emerging challenges and opportunities, and to fully seize the potential offered by new technologies.

The A/P Workshop was jointly chaired by Mr. Heru Pambudi, Director General of Customs and Excise of Indonesia and WCO Council Vice-Chair for the A/P region, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General. The Vice-Chair for the A/P region considered that the COVID-19 pandemic should lead Customs in rethinking the way they work. In this light, he stated it was relevant to prepare the future with concrete foresight methodology and appreciated the involvement of the six WCO regions. Members of the region particularly mentioned the need to build trust between all the stakeholders at the border, and to establish capability, both in IT and people, to face current and upcoming challenges. They also called for data exchange standardization and for improving Customs resilience over the long run, through a more nervous and agile strategy.

The WCA Workshop was jointly chaired by Mr. Guénolé Mbongo, Director General of Customs and Indirect Taxation of the Republic of Congo and WCO Council Vice-Chair for the WCA region, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General. The Vice-Chair for the WCA region explained that strategic foresight was a relatively new approach for the region and considered that the methodology would help in better responding to future opportunities and challenges. He added it would bring a new dynamic, helping Customs in being less reactive and more proactive. Members of the region insisted on the need for further integration, of procedures, IT systems and data, at regional level first and global level then. They also mentioned the facilitation role of Customs and the need to secure business continuity in times of crisis.

For each of the Workshops, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) Joint Research Centre gave introductory presentations in order to familiarize delegates with the principles of strategic foresight and how these could be applied in specific terms at policy level.

The cycle of the Environmental Scan 2021 will be pursued with the two remaining regions, consultations with the Secretariat at management level and with the private sector through the PSCG.