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8th meeting of the WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group

20 octubre 2017

The World Customs Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group (TFAWG) met for the eighth time from 16 to 18 October 2017 in Brussels at the WCO’s Head Quarters. The meeting included a Joint Session with the WCO Permanent Technical Committee.

Hundreds of delegates, representing Customs, other Border Agencies and Trade Ministries from WCO Members, Observers from several International Organizations, the Private Sector and Academia participated.

Ambassador Blockert, the Swedish Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva and the incumbent Chairperson of the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee addressed the TFAWG delivering a keynote speech. The Ambassador said that the WCO has an important role to play in the implementation of the TFA and that Customs administrations all around the world will have a key role in implementing it. He informed the delegates that many countries have told him that it was important for the WCO to be involved in the work of the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee because of its technical expertise and the capacity building efforts of the WCO. Discussions were ongoing about the best way to involve International Organizations such as the WCO in the proceedings of the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee.

In his conclusion, the Ambassador asked for two favours. Firstly, he asked TFAWG delegates to keep in contact with their colleagues in Geneva and in their capitals about this issue. Secondly, he asked for help in keeping the TFA as an important issue at national level, to raise awareness of the TFA and the benefits it could bring.

When discussing the work of the TFAWG after the entry into force and the TFAWG Annual Work Plan, the meeting felt it was important to focus on National Committees on Trade Facilitation and establishing Coordinated Border Management in cooperation and coordination with other border agencies. One of the conclusions was that the TFAWG could support the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee by continuing to focus on the implementation of the TFA and monitoring the progress thereof.

The Working Group endorsed a Survey Tool that was developed as part of the WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement Implementation Guidance. It enables Members to submit national practices that can be included in the Guidance in a simple fashion. These practices are invaluable to other Members when they implement the provisions of the TFA. Mexico and India presented national practices, and the Netherlands informed the meeting about a pilot project in its development stage between the Benelux Countries and India which involved Customs and other border agencies.

In addition to various other topics, such as Post Clearance Audit, Single Window, Customs Brokers, Transit, National Committees on Trade Facilitation, Border Agency Cooperation and the WCO Mercator Programme, the WCO’s capacity building programme for the implementation of trade facilitation measures, the TFAWG addressed the new WCO Time Release Study Guidelines. The WCO Time Release Study is an important tool to diagnose the implementation of trade facilitation measure and to monitor the progress which is in line with the wishes of the TFAWG.

The TFAWG endorsed Ms. Ulrika Lyckman of Sweden as Chairperson for the next two years. The delegates elected Mr. L. Satya Srinivas of India to be the next Vice Chairperson. The TFAWG thanked the outgoing Chairperson, Mr. Carlos Enriquez, who completed his two-year term, for his tireless efforts and dedication to the implementation of the TFA.