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First global workshop for Mercator Programme Advisors successfully concluded in Brussels

07 julio 2017

During the week 19 to 23 June 2017, the WCO conducted the first workshop designed for Mercator Programme Advisor’s (MPAs) in Brussels. The workshop was attended by 19 MPAs from a cross-section of Member countries.

MPAs assist Members with implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), by conducting and coordinating support missions. This support can take the form of scoping and planning missions, establishment and or maintenance  of National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs), and in relation to specific articles such as Advance Rulings, Risk Management, Time Release Study, etc. MPAs are familiar with advising on the suite of WCO tools and instruments.

The WCO Capacity Building Director, Ernani Checcucci, in his opening remarks provided a comprehensive description of the Mercator Programme, its activities, expectations and future orientation. Essentially, the Mercator Programme is moving reform and modernization from topic-based activities assistance towards long-term national project-oriented assistance. This new direction will see MPAs linked with a country, to foster better delivery and monitoring of implementation efforts. The Mercator Programme also sees increased efforts to cooperate with other international organisations and development agencies.

The content of the week saw MPAs share experiences, exchange views on the Mercator Programme and discuss how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Programme. The perspectives covered the WCO accreditation approach and process, pre-mission issues (preparation, communication, logistics), in-country dynamics (types of missions, techniques, successes, challenges), and post-mission issues (evaluation, administration, follow-up, continuing commitment).

The final day included a discussion with the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. He emphasized that Customs need a comprehensive overview of their modernization reform and MPAs can assist with this. While the WCO is strengthening collaboration with other international organisations to support the TFA implementation, he noted that it was ultimately the responsibility of the Member to coordinate capacity building activities within their own administrations and countries. He encouraged MPAs to record and share success stories and challenges through case studies. These stories provide useful insights and inspiration for others to aid in minimising mistakes and in improving WCO capacity building services.

The workshop was closed by Ms Ana Hinojosa, Director of the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate. She thanked the MPAs for volunteering of their time and talent to support the implementation of TFA and the further development of WCO Members.  She acknowledged that supporting these missions takes them away from their regular jobs and families, and that she hoped that the experience was enriching for them, as well.   

The WCO plans to host a second MPA Global Workshop event in 2018.