Online capacity-building workshop organized by the WCO COVID-19 Project supports Benin Customs in efficiently responding to pandemics and other natural disasters

26 July 2021

On 19-22 July 2021 more than 90 participants, representing Customs, other governmental agencies, International Organizations and the humanitarian sector attended the “Online workshop to assist Benin Customs in drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the clearance and regularization of relief goods in case of natural disasters and other disruptive events”, a capacity-building activity organized by the WCO COVID-19 Project with the financial support of the Government of Japan.

The online event took place over three days and focused on how to streamline the procedures for the importation of relief consignments and expedite the clearance of emergency goods and equipment. Participants benefited from the insights shared by WCO and humanitarian organizations’ experts that supported them throughout the drafting process, facilitated discussions and ensured a smooth running of the initiative.

During the opening ceremony, the Director General of Benin Customs, Mr. Charles Inoussa Sacca Boco, underlined how the project will allow Customs “to better face disruptive scenarios such as COVID-19 by facilitating the continuity of the global supply chain and improving the protection of Customs officers by reducing the risk of infection.” He warmly thanked the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikurya, and Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, Director of the WCO Compliance and Facilitation Directorate. In his opening speech, Mr. Das encouraged participants to make the most of the workshop and to foster effective cooperation among all the actors involved in emergency operations.

In order to ensure the productiveness of the sessions, attendees were divided into three working groups, each of which included relevant stakeholders and focused on the drafting of a number of procedures. Such a format and the positive spirit of cooperation that characterized the meeting resulted in a lively exchange of views within individual groups and amongst all participants.

On the last day of the workshop, experts held individual meetings with the rapporteurs and the members of each working group to review the work carried out, suggest final adjustments and discuss about the next steps of the project. In the months to come, the WCO COVID-19 Project and Benin Customs might organize simulation exercises to test the current procedures in place and to identify potential bottlenecks that need to be overcome.

The WCO COVID-19 Project is planning to replicate this capacity-building activity for WCO Members in other regions.