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MENA Heads of Customs discuss the region’s increasing involvement in WCO activities

01 febrero 2019

At the invitation of  Mr. Ahmed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Customs and WCO Vice-Chair for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the Regional Meeting of Directors General of Customs held in Cairo, Egypt on 31 January 2019.  The meeting brought together representatives from 15 Members of the region, the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and the League of Arab States.

The Office of the Vice-Chair presented an update on the WCO’s activities, including the use of additional languages at WCO meetings and the Strategic Plan.  The Members valued the more extensive use of Arabic as a working language, which has increased the region’s active involvement in the work of some of the WCO’s committees and working groups.  Challenges related to ensuring that Arabic interpreters had good knowledge of Customs technical terminology were discussed.  Delegates suggested that the region should develop a glossary of Customs terms in order to facilitate their work.

Concerning the topic of performance measurement, the delegates stressed the importance of objective-setting, data collection and data validation. The Directors General appreciated the WCO’s interactions with the World Bank in this regard.  

Several Members shared examples of best practices and ideas on systems for electronic cargo tracking and exchange of electronic certificates of origin, and suggested that these could serve as a basis for a more comprehensive electronic exchange of information in the future. The ROCB was tasked with setting up and coordinating a study group to look further into these topics.

The ROCB reported on its recent activities, and the participants expressed their support for developing a strategy for the Regional Training Centres (RTCs).

The participants expressed appreciation for the warm hospitality extended to them by the Egyptian Customs Administration, for the excellent leadership by the Vice-Chair, and for the guidance and support for the region by the Secretary General.