Political support for Customs modernization and the Revised Kyoto Convention in Laos

07 noviembre 2014

At the invitation of the Director General of Laos Customs, Mr. Athsaphangthong Siphandone, Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Vientiane, Laos on 5 and 6 November 2014 to garner support for the country’s accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC).

Laos Customs organized a seminar on the RKC on 5 November for Customs managers as well as representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Industry, and Justice. Laos Customs delivered a presentation on progress with Customs modernization and accession to the RKC. Secretary General Mikuriya explained the recent WCO initiatives, especially the trade facilitation tools to support the RKC and the Mercator Programme to help Customs and the relevant Ministries deepen their understanding of the RKC and the role Customs could play in enhancing economic competitiveness. He later visited the Friendship Bridge checkpoint at the border with Thailand near the Mekong River to see the Customs processing unit and observe its progress in terms of automation. He also had a meeting with the Vice Minister of Finance, Ms. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, to discuss the way forward for Customs reform.

Secretary General Mikuriya held a series of meetings with political leaders, as described below, to consolidate their support for Customs modernization and accession to the RKC. The National Assembly’s Economic, Planning and Finance Committee Chairperson, Dr. Souvanpheng Bouphanouvong, was grateful for Customs’ role in ensuring connectivity at borders and promised to cooperate in leveraging legislative mechanisms. The Minister of Finance, Dr. Lien Thikeo, expressed his gratitude for the advice and assistance provided by the WCO and the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) for Asia/Pacific in Bangkok. The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Macro-Economic and Service Sectors, Dr. Bounpone Bouttavong, agreed with the Secretary General's comments on the Customs reform process, including the ongoing national Customs legislation reform, and pledged his support for Customs. The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, endorsed the RKC as a means of improving transit through landlocked countries, including Laos, especially in the context of the ASEAN Economic Community to be established in 2015. The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms. Khemmani Pholsena, explained that Customs was already Co-Chair of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation and she appreciated Customs’ collaboration in improving the business environment.

Secretary General Mikuriya made a commitment to continue providing support and guidance to Laos Customs, including through the ROCB in Bangkok, and called for increased recognition amongst political leaders of the role of Customs and for investment in strengthening its organizational and human resource aspects, as well as for Coordinated Border Management.