Fourth regional consultation on the Strategic Plan with the MENA region

07 October 2021

On 5 and 6 October 2021, the fourth regional consultation on the next Strategic Plan was conducted with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The session was jointly chaired by the Vice-Chair for the MENA region, Mr. Jalal Salem Qudah from the Jordan Customs Administration, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa. Approximately 35 participants attended the session, which was held virtually.

In his introductory remarks, the Vice-Chair for the MENA region stressed the benefit of working collaboratively to overcome current and future challenges for the Organization. He added that this would require enhanced partnership, based on proper prioritization of activities. The WCO Deputy Secretary General agreed that a collaborative approach was key to defining an adequate strategy for the coming years and stated that the regional consultations offered the right platform to exchange views and ideas in this context. The Council Chairperson, Mr. Ahmed Al Khalifa, also delivered some opening remarks, in which he pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated changes in the trade environment. The current situation meant that a sound foundation should be built for a strong Strategic Plan. He called for the region to be active in this process, as the future priorities for the WCO would be defined from the outcomes of the regional consultations.

Addressing the future areas of action to be considered, participants shared the view that the WCO should focus on ensuring its continued sustainability in order to be able to maintain its influence and deliver valuable initiatives for Members. They expressed the opinion that the core priority for the future was to reflect on securing alternative sources of funding to enhance the WCO’s stability and a certain degree of latitude in the projects it conducted. On this basis, the focus of the Organization should be on matters aimed at equipping Customs for modern realities. They mentioned, in particular, the development of IT solutions promoting and harmonizing the exchange of data between Customs, and the extensive use of data analytics for proper decision making. Capacity building support should also be adapted to this context, providing the right training to better respond to new and emerging trends.

These consultations will define the new WCO Strategic Plan, following the same approach as for the previous strategy and Environmental Scan. Full involvement by Members has already proven invaluable when drafting these documents, ensuring that the entire Organization shares a single vision and is moving towards achieving the same objectives.