WCO supports Customs reform and modernization in Madagascar

14 October 2020

At the invitation of the Director General of Madagascar Customs, Mr. Zafivanona Ernest Lainkana, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated as a guest speaker during the opening ceremony of a virtual roundtable between Madagascar Customs and its technical and financial partners held on 12 October 2020. The Minister of Economy and Finance of Madagascar, Mr. Richard Randriamandrato, officially opened the three-day roundtable.

At the very outset of proceedings, Secretary General Mikuriya acknowledged the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy. He explained that despite the current international crisis and the associated sanitary risks, Customs officers had been at the forefront to protect citizens against illicit trafficking of COVID-19 related medical supplies and goods. He also added that Customs officers were unsung heroes who performed the essential task of protecting supply chains while ensuring seamless flows of goods across borders during this unprecedented crisis.

Dr. Mikuriya went on to illustrate how Customs played a major role not only in facilitating legitimate trade but also in protecting the economy from illicit trade, especially in times of crisis when the world economy was more fragile. He noted that Madagascar was strategically located for various types of trade and emphasized the importance of using technology to secure borders and of investing in training to ensure staff preparedness. In this regard, he advised Customs administrations to take ownership of their reform process and develop their own strategic and implementation plans. He recognized the efforts made by Madagascar Customs in this regard, through a well-publicized Strategic Plan and Modernization Programme for 2020-2023. He stressed the importance of consultation with stakeholders, before summarizing the three essential elements for successful reform: Political support, People and Partnership.

Minister Randriamandrato thanked the WCO for its contribution to the Customs reform process in Madagascar and reiterated the Government’s support for modernization. He described the economic difficulties experienced by Madagascar since the beginning of the crisis and underlined the Government’s swift response to them. He appealed for WCO support during this progressive transition towards modernization.

The WCO confirmed that it would continue to provide support to its Members and accompany them on the path to Customs reform and modernization. At the end of the opening ceremony, Dr. Mikuriya thanked the Minister of Economy and Finance for showing the political will to support Madagascar Customs in implementing meaningful reform, noting that the Plan and Programme proposed were closely aligned with the national plan for the emergence of Madagascar.

Several speakers were invited to take part in the three-day virtual roundtable, including representatives of the World Bank, African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center (AFRITAC) South, United States Agency for International Development, and Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.