WCO Regional Forum on the Economic Competitiveness Package for the MENA Region

21 εδΈ€ζœˆ 2013

The WCO, in cooperation with the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), organized a Regional Forum on the Economic Competitiveness Package (ECP) for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) Region on 19 and 20 November 2013 in Abu Dhabi. During the opening session, Mr. Khalid Al Bustani, Acting Director General of the FCA of the UAE, and Mr. Saeed Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Customs, welcomed all the participants, stressing the importance of innovation for the UAE to stay competitive on the global stage. In his keynote address, the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, talked about the critical role of Customs in improving the efficiency of the trade supply chain through greater transparency, security and resilience, thus contributing to economic competitiveness. He highlighted several key tools and programmes the WCO has developed as part of its ECP, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), to ensure connectivity at borders with standardized procedures, Customs-Business Partnerships to create a business-friendly environment with a compliance culture, the Single Window and the Time Release Study (TRS) to provide a platform for better coordination and better service for stakeholders at borders.

During the workshops that took place, high-level officers from the Region’s Customs administrations, experts from international organizations, such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and participants from the private sector exchanged their experiences and views on economic competitiveness. They placed particular emphasis on performance measurement, Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes, cooperation with the business sector, transit systems, and Coordinated Border Management (CBM). The Forum participants also held very active discussions on possible actions to enhance economic competitiveness at the regional level. As a result, they adopted recommendations on sharing innovative practices and experiences related to CBM, TRS, AEO programmes, performance indicators, Customs-Business Partnerships and effective transit systems for the Region. It was confirmed that the outcomes of the Forum would form a sound basis for the regional meeting to be held in Marrakech, Morocco in January 2014.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to meet with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, H.E. Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, for discussions on the way forward to further enhance economic competitiveness in the UAE and the Arab region through Customs modernization.