African Union Commission holds the 8th Ordinary Meeting of its Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs

21 noviembre 2016

At the invitation of the African Union (AU) Commission, the WCO Secretary General participated in the 8th Ordinary Meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs (AUSCDGC). The meeting entitled “From Barriers to Bridges - Implementing One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) for Improved Trade Facilitation” was held on 17 and 18 November 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The meeting was attended by Directors General of Customs and representatives from approximately 25 Customs administrations together with AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and International Organizations. Discussions were brought on the African Union’s important agenda of creating a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) within the framework of Boosting Intra African Trade (BIAT) for economic growth and development on the African continent. The significance of OSBP as a concept for removing barriers to trade at border posts was therefore highlighted as a trade facilitation measure that would speed up the establishment of the CFTA.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa, Acting Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), who welcomed participants to Zimbabwe and to the 8th Ordinary Session of the AUSCDGC. He applauded the meeting’s theme noting how it related to the subject of turning trade barriers into bridges that facilitated smoother movement of goods and people and improved connectivity amongst African States, recalling the benefits brought to the region  by the Chirundu OSBP between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting was also characterized by interventions from Mr. Deo Rugwiza Magera, Director General of Democratic Republic of the Congo Customs and Excise, and outgoing Chairperson of the AUSCDGC, H.E. Ambassador Mr. Lazarus Kapambwe, Special Adviser on Economic Affairs to the African Union Commission Chairperson, and Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the WCO.

In his address, Secretary General Mikuriya thanked the AU Commission and the outgoing Chairperson of the AUSCDGC for inviting him to the meeting and also expressed his appreciation to the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe for their warm welcome and hospitality. The Secretary General recalled the theme of the meeting and highlighted its alignment with the WCO Vision Statement of “Borders Divide, Customs Connects”. He reiterated the WCO’s support for AU programmes aimed at Boosting Intra African Trade through the development of several instruments and tools to enhance economic competiveness among African Member States. Mr. Mikuriya noted the encouraging developments to ensure trade facilitation and  economic competitiveness through the WTO TFA and reiterated the WCO’s active involvement through the Mercator Programme providing tailor-made support to Customs administrations, especially in Africa.

In his concluding remarks Dr. Mikuriya emphasized technological development as a driver to current global trade. Referring to the WCO's 2016 theme, “Digital Customs: progressive engagement”, he pointed to the critical role played by technology in improving Customs procedures. In this regard, he informed the audience that the WCO would further explore this focus in 2017 with the theme of “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management”.

The second day of the meeting included a panel discussion session on OSBP comprising WCO Secretary General Mikuriya and representatives from Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, the Pan African Parliament, African Development Bank, and the East African Community. During his presentation, Dr. Mikuriya provided concrete examples of OSBP in Europe and Asia, and described the instruments and programmes developed by the WCO in support of OSBP. He also referred to the OSBP Source Book developed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the AU and RECs with the support of the WCO, as well as the WCO’s work to develop Transit Guidelines in support of OSBP.

The 8th Ordinary Meeting of AUCSDGC was preceded by a three-day Experts’ Meeting.