An important new step in West Africa towards the development of a Pool of Trainers on Rules of Origin

07 December 2023

Under the auspices of the WCO/JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Joint Project, the fourth Working Group activity (WG4) of the Master Trainers Program (MTP) on Rules of Origin (RoO) was held in Cotonou, Benin from 20-24 November 2023. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of the representative of the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Director General of Benin Customs, the Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Benin, and the Resident Representative of JICA in Benin. The same group of Master Trainer candidates who participated in the previous three Working Group (WG) activities from eight Customs administrations in West Africa, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo, got together again for this sub-regional activity.

This WG activity was the fourth in a series of progressive activities for the MTP on RoO undertaken by the eight Customs Administrations in West Africa mentioned above.  The Master Trainer Program or MTP aims to develop sustainable training capacity within the Customs administrations by developing 1) a pool of well-experienced trainers and (2) regionally featured training materials and the program to be used by these trainers.  The MTP on RoO also aims to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Building upon the previous three activities, sixteen (16) RoO officials worked intensively to finalize the development of training materials and teaching slides to meet the specific national and regional training needs they identified during the first working group activity (WG1).  Experts from WCO, the AfCFTA Secretariat and Japan Customs facilitated various sessions and shared their valuable knowledge and expertise with the WG members (participants).

The participants demonstrated their commitment to the MTP and actively participated in working sessions and discussions during the five days of the workshop. Both the WCO and JICA welcomed their commitment and positive approach to ensuring the long-term sustainability of capacity building within their organizations. At the end of the workshop, WG members revised their work plan towards the final working group activity, WG5, which is expected to be held in early 2024. Meanwhile, their development journey will continue intersessionally.

During his closing remarks, the representative of the Director General of the Benin Customs thanked all participants for their active contributions and thanked the WCO and JICA for contributing to the enhancement of the capacity building for the West African countries.  

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