WCO Secretary General addresses foreign ministers of Landlocked Developing Countries

18 d├ęcembre 2023

At the invitation of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN OHRLLS) and the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, spoke at a Ministerial Meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) held on 14 and 15 December 2023 in Yerevan, under the theme Enhancing equitable, affordable and inclusive transport connectivity as a driver for sustainable and resilient economies. The Ministerial Meeting is part of the preparatory process of the Third UN Conference on LLDCs to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 18 to 21 June 2024. The Ministerial Meeting outcome will contribute as a thematic input to the next programme of action for LLDCs that will succeed the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs for the decade 2014-2024.

In his video address, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the WCO contribution to addressing the complex challenges and special development needs of LLDCs over the past two decades, which involves developing standards aimed at enhancing connectivity at borders and promoting the adoption of digital technology. Dr. Mikuriya re-emphasized the critical importance of simplified and harmonized Customs procedures for facilitating trade in LLDCs and transit developing countries, thereby enhancing economic competitiveness and pointed to the tangible input provided by the WCO through the Transit Handbook of 2014, the Transit Guidelines of 2017 and the Railway Guidance of 2022, among others.

The Secretary General highlighted some good practices in the realm of digital connectivity, such as the interconnectivity of Customs transit systems in West Africa, and the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System, successfully implemented by Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and since recently, by Burundi.

Furthermore, Dr. Mikuriya emphasized that, in the post-pandemic era, the resilience of supply chains is paramount. In this context, Members are pursuing diversified trading routes and are accelerating regional integration. Endeavouring to achieve these goals, it is imperative to prioritize the urgent agenda of climate change and address related environmental challenges in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Consequently, connectivity at borders, facilitated by efficient, harmonized, automated, and paperless Customs procedures, has become even more crucial for LLDCs, the WCO Secretary General noted.

Dr. Mikuriya concluded his intervention by pledging the WCO commitment to working closely with its partners in preparation for the Third UN Conference on LLDCs, given the WCO’s rich history of collaboration and extensive experience.