WCO Secretary General addresses the Annual Ministerial Meeting of LLDCs

24 September 2020

At the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) held virtually on 23 September 2020, the World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, highlighted the WCO’s support to LLDCs in the COVID-19 era. The Meeting launched the United Nations (UN) Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action.

Opening remarks were provided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Global Chair of the Group of LLDCs, by the President of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly and by the UN Secretary-General.

Dr. Mikuriya also addressed the Ministerial Meeting and reiterated the WCO’s dedication to supporting LLDCs by setting standards for simplified and harmonized border procedures, delivering capacity building projects and enhancing cooperation and coordination with other development partners.

The UN Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action outlines the actions of various players, including the WCO, in transit, trade and transport facilitation, digital connectivity, public-private dialogue and mitigating COVID-19. 

Dr. Mikuriya stressed that the disruption brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated the importance of freedom of transit and the need for smooth functioning of transport and trade corridors. He reminded the Meeting that, recognizing the specific challenges faced by LLDCs, a joint statement had been issued by the UN-OHRLLS[1] and the WCO on 29 May 2020, calling upon LLDCs and transit countries to maintain the continuity of international and regional supply chains during the pandemic.

Partnering with other international organizations and the private sector has been one of key avenues explored by the WCO in its efforts to support and guide its 183 Members in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring supply chain continuity. Since March 2020, the WCO has been developing new guidance material for Members, sharing best practices and supporting Customs enforcement activities to protect society.

“Greater support for LLDCs is indeed essential, as the international community embarks on the Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and strives to accelerate the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action”, said Dr. Mikuriya. He concluded his statement by highlighting the WCO’s commitment to supporting LLDCs within the framework of the SDGs, especially through the WCO’s theme for 2020: “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

[1] UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States