Accelerate Trade Facilitation – a HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programme


‘Accelerate Trade Facilitation’ brings together the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in a partnership supported by the United Kingdom’s Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to support effective implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The Programme is designed to leverage the competencies and capacities of the WCO, UNCTAD and HMRC. The WCO provides significant value-for-money by leveraging its unique Customs-to-Customs approach and its pool of WCO accredited and recognised experts, including officials from HMRC and the UK Border Force, to deliver technical assistance and capacity building and by applying the WCO’s international standards and tools under the auspices of the WCO Mercator Programme. UNCTAD’s complementary support to National Committees on Trade Facilitation is a key component of the Programme’s vision.

The WCO focuses on supporting Custom administrations both on TFA technical measures as well as strengthened organizational development as a cross-cutting enabler required to ensure a conducive environment for successful reforms. This includes capacity building on gender and diversity, integrity, leadership and management development, and competency based Human Resource Management.

The HMRC Programme was first initiated in 2015 and since then the Programme has evolved in both in scope and geographical focus. The continuation of the Programme across various multi-year phases is a recognition of its success. In March 2022 the WCO Secretary-General jointly with the HMRC Director-General, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Asia and the Middle East, and the UNTAD Secretary-General announced the Programme’s extension from April 2022 to April 2025 with a total budget allocated to WCO of £2,145,000.

At a time where the COVID 19 pandemic has focused attention on the need to keep supply-chains open and develop organisational resiliency, the 2022-2025 phase will concentrate on strengthening national and regional capacity to better respond to future crises, as well as furthering the digitalisation of trade procedures and targeting trade-related bottlenecks.

In the 2020-2022 Programme phase, the WCO partner countries included Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Nigeria, Madagascar, The Gambia, and Zambia. Moreover following the closing of the Trade Facilitation in Middle Income Countries (TFMICs) Programme as was also funded by the United Kingdom, support to Nigeria, The Philippines and South Africa has transitioned into the HMRC Programme since November 2021. Early 2023 Namibia became the 10th country to join the Programme.

In the coming years ‘Accelerate Trade Facilitation’ will continue with similar geographical focus while potentially expanding to other African and South-Asia countries. Gender equality and diversity will also continue to be a key focus of the programme as is overall Customs knowledge strengthening to the benefit of effective reforms. The development of e-learning courses on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, Gender & Diversity, Project management, and Authorized Economic Operators were already supported by the Programme.

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More Information

For the February 2020 news release on 2022-2025 Programme phase announcement please see here.

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