Extension of the WCO COVID-19 Project until June 2023

13 June 2022

With the approval of the Government of Japan, which has granted a one-year extension, the WCO COVID-19 Project will continue until June 2023. The aim of the extension is to provide additional support to current and potential new beneficiary Members and to maximize the positive impact of the results achieved so far.

The COVID-19 Project, launched in July 2020 to help build Customs administrations’ capacity to tackle the challenges stemming from COVID-19, other infectious diseases and similar scenarios, has already achieved meaningful results. Thanks to this extension, the Project will be able to increase its outreach still further and bring on board a growing number of Members and stakeholders. Providing capacity building support is one of the three pillars of the Project. Accordingly, the past two years have seen more than fifteen activities organized for over one hundred Customs administrations across five WCO regions.

The Project Team was tasked with drafting and updating the WCO Guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity, approved by the WCO Council in June 2021. The Guidelines, which are a ‘living’ document, have already been updated twice with the addition of a chapter on enforcement issues during emergency situations and a self-assessment checklist to help Members assess their preparedness for facing disruptive events.

The Project also equipped three Members (Madagascar, Cameroon and Benin) with a mobile app for the digital submission of Customs declarations by inbound passengers, together with related hardware that will be used by Customs staff to retrieve data from the app, making border procedures faster and safer as a result.

Over the coming year, the Project will focus its activities on the regions most threatened by natural disasters, such as the Pacific Islands which were severely affected by the tsunami that struck the region in January 2022. Supplementary activities will include providing other interested WCO Members with IT tools to facilitate Customs declarations.

Over the past two years, the Project has made significant progress in fulfilling its mission of building the capacity of Customs administrations in developing and least developed countries to address the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and other similar disruptive events. An overview of the results achieved and further information on the Project deliverables are available on the WCO COVID-19 webpage and in the latest Project video.