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WCO visit to Swedish Partners

24 octubre 2011

WCO visit to Swedish partners

Stockholm, 24-25 October 2011

On 24 and 25 October 2011 a WCO Delegation led by the Director Capacity Building Mr. Erich Kieck paid a visit to the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency –SIDA- the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Customs Service.

The primary objective of this visit was the annual review meeting with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency –SIDA- under the auspices of the Programme for Regional Implementation of the Columbus Programme Phase II in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to the SIDA donation of in total EUR 4,7 Mio in 2008 the WCO has since been enabled to assist the countries of the East African Community –EAC-, the Southern African Customs Union –SACU- and the Economic Community of West African States -ECOWAS- in their regional Customs Modernization programmes. Particularly the regional activities in the SACU and EAC region towards greater IT connectivity and establishment of trade partnership programmes generate successful results towards greater regional integration and enjoy great enthusiasm in these regions. The aim of this very constructive meeting was hence to take stock of the overall programme progress and to agree the conditionality for the remainder of the programme period. The visit further allowed an exchange of ideas on future cooperation areas where SIDA confirmed their priority areas for development assistance in the areas of regional integration, trade facilitation and integrity.

During a courtesy visit to Ms Therese Mattsson, recently appointed Director General of the Swedish Customs Service, Mr. Kieck highlighted the long-lasting and fruitful collaboration between the WCO and the Swedish Customs Service in the area of Customs Capacity Building. Since the creation of the Capacity Building Directorate Sweden has been one of the principal Donor-Members to the WCO Capacity Building undertakings through in-kind contribution of Customs experts to the WCO Columbus Programme and through allocation of Technical Attaches to the Directorate. Ms Mattson reaffirmed her continued commitment to this fruitful collaboration.

Traditionally the Swedish Customs Service has been a strong advocate of the WCO Capacity Building Programmes to other Swedish governmental departments and donor organizations but also in the regional European context. Against this background Ms Mattsson expressed special interest in the ongoing Capacity Building work in the WCO Donor working group, the Project Map Database, the WCO Integrity portfolio and in the newly established Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The visit to the International Trade Policy Department of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided an excellent opportunity to discuss joint Capacity Building efforts. Ms. Kajsa Olofsgard, Deputy Director General and Head of Department, specifically welcomed the WCO Capacity Building involvement in Trade Facilitation efforts and stressed their continued interest in also future co-operation – following already previous support to the WCO language fund, the allocation of an Arabic speaking Attaché at the Capacity Building Directorate a few years ago to support the MENA region and Project GAPIN in the area of CITES protection. Respective dialogue will now continue on working level between the two organizations.

Ms. Therese Mattson, DG of Swedish Customs, and Mr. Erich Kieck, WCO Director Capacity Building