Breaking Barriers: WCO's Online TFA Workshop Supports the MENA Region’s TFA Implementation

02 February 2023

The World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully conducted a 3-day Online Regional Workshop on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for the North Africa of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) Region from 30 January to 1 February 2023. The Workshop was organized with the financial support of the WCO Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) China.

The workshop brought together participants from thirteen Members from the MENA region with the objective of providing them with an update on TFA-related developments including under the WCO Mercator Programme, sharing national and regional experiences, discussing key challenges faced, exploring applied methods of monitoring and evaluating implementation, as well as to discuss the role of integrity in implementing the TFA and the contribution of the TFA in building integrity. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about how TFA implementation was critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused major disruptions to cross-border trade movements.

In his opening remarks, Pranab Kumar Das, Director, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, began by welcoming members from the region and expressed delight in what he described as a good turnout from Member administrations in the region. He further stated that the WCO had held two rounds of regional workshops on the TFA after the conclusion of the TFA. This was the fourth workshop as part of the new (3rd) round of regional TFA workshops, following the successful previous three workshops held in the A/P, ESA/WCA and AMS regions. He urged the participants to contribute actively and hoped they would also benefit from the information and experiences shared during the three days.

The highlight of the workshop was a presentation by WTO Counselor Sheri Rosenow, who provided valuable insights into the WTO perspectives on TFA implementation. Rosenow emphasized the current state of TFA implementation in the MENA region, offering a comprehensive understanding of the progress being made towards more efficient trade in the region.

Ahmed Niyaz, the WCO Mercator Programme Advisor (MPA), also made a significant contribution to the workshop with his presentation on TFA implementation in the Maldives as a beneficiary of the WCO MY Mercator Programme. Niyaz shared the experiences of the Maldives in the implementation of the TFA, highlighting the challenges faced and the solutions adopted. This presentation provided valuable lessons for the countries in the MENA region and demonstrated the important role that WCO’s MY Mercator Programme including the Mercator Maturity Model play in the implementation of the TFA.

The workshop also witnessed presentations made by delegates of the MENA region on their national experience in implementing the TFA, as it was intended to be an experience-sharing event.

At the end of the workshop, participants were given certificates for their participation.