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WCO Secretary General visits Lebanon to secure high-level support for Customs reform

30 septiembre 2020

At the invitation of the President of the Lebanese Higher Council of Customs, Mr. Assaad Tfaily, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, visited Beirut, Lebanon on 28 and 29 September 2020 to discuss the way forward for Customs reform.

Lebanon is currently facing an economic crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic explosion of 4 August 2020 that severely damaged the port’s infrastructure, including Customs facilities. Dr. Mikuriya visited the devastated port area and expressed his sympathy and solidarity on behalf of the global Customs community.

Lebanese Customs organized two round-table sessions, one with the business community and another one with international organizations. These sessions enabled Secretary General Mikuriya to gain an insight into the needs of the private sector with respect to rebuilding Customs infrastructure. He also learned about the readiness of the United Nations and other international organizations to assist in this process. In addition, Lebanese Customs shared its vision of Customs reform, while Customs’ key external stakeholders were afforded an opportunity to interact with the WCO. Dr. Mikuriya also attended a separate session with senior Customs staff and a series of meetings with the development community.

After his meeting with Customs stakeholders, Secretary General Mikuriya had a series of high-level meetings with political leaders, including the Lebanese Minister of Finance, Dr. Ghazi Wazni, the Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, and the Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, Mr. Nabih Berri, to explain the importance of Customs and the WCO’s willingness to provide continuous support as well as to seek the political backing needed to kick-start the country’s much needed Customs reform. Following these fruitful discussions, all parties expressed their readiness to offer the political support required to modernize Lebanese Customs.

Lebanon’s new Customs Code is aligned with the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention. The WCO has also been assisting the Lebanese Customs Administration in the development of a Customs Strategic Plan and providing support for the organizational reforms that will enable the Administration to implement the Customs Code and Strategic Plan.