Enhancing Trade Efficiency: WCO's Time Release Study Mission Unveils Promising Outcomes for Belize

01 June 2023

The World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a Time Release Study (TRS) mission in Belize City, Belize, from 15 to 19 May 2023, as part of their congoing Customs reform and modernization efforts, supported by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The week-long workshop brought together various stakeholders, including government agencies, port and airport authorities, Customs brokers, and trade facilitation organizations. The agenda focused on providing updates on the TRS Project, revising process flows, drafting a TRS data dictionary, and on the WCO the TRS Software for questionnaire design, data collection and analysis.

The workshop commenced with an inauguration session with Estella Bailey-Leslie, the Comptroller of Customs and Excise and Andy Sutherland, Director General of the Directorate General for Foreign Trade, Belize. The opening ceremony also included representatives from Belize Customs, the WCO, and the National Committee on Trade Facilitation. Attendees had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the TRS project and its importance in enhancing trade facilitation.

Furthermore, participants focused on reviewing and updating process flows for various routes, which were initially drafted during the previous TRS workshop held in 2018. Belize Customs presented these process flows, and participants were split into groups for a comprehensive review. Subsequently, revised process flows were presented, combining the expertise of Belize participants and WCO experts.

Additionally, the TRS data dictionary was introduced and its significance in ensuring standardized data collection was explained. Participants engaged in drafting the data dictionary, working closely with the TRS Working Group and WCO experts.

Some sessions were also conducted to familiarize participants with the TRS Software, which plays a crucial role in data collection and analysis. Practical exercises were conducted to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the software's functionalities. Furthermore, questionnaires were designed for manual data collection, aligning with the TRS objectives.

Practical sessions on data input into the TRS Software and subsequent analysis were provided. WCO experts guided the TRS Working Group in understanding data input procedures using the software. Practical exercises, including bulk upload of data through Command Separated Value (CSV) files, allowed participants to gain hands-on experience. The significance of data analysis for identifying bottlenecks and optimizing trade processes was also highlighted.

The final day of the workshop focused on report writing and reviewing the TRS Project Plan. WCO experts provided guidance on effective report writing techniques, emphasizing the importance of clear and concise documentation. Practical exercises enabled the TRS Working Group to apply their knowledge and produce a report skeleton. The project plan was then updated based on the knowledge acquired during the workshop thereby ensuring more realistic deadlines and better alignment with the latest project developments and goals.

The WCO's TRS mission in Belize has provided significant impetus to the Belize's Customs reform and modernization efforts. The workshop successfully engaged stakeholders from various sectors, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. By revising process flows, creating a data dictionary, implementing the TRS Software, and conducting data analysis, Belize is poised to enhance trade efficiency and streamline customs procedures. The outcomes of this mission will contribute to the continuous improvement of trade facilitation in Belize, reinforcing the their commitment to promoting international trade and economic growth.

For more information, please contact the WCO Secretariat at TRS@wcoomd.org.