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Customs Administrations in East Africa welcome more involvement by the WCO in their Trade Facilitation Project

A Regional Joint Coordinating Committee (RJCC) meeting of the Trade Facilitation Project for East Africa was held on 24 November 2016, at Kigali, Rwanda. Commissioners General and Commissioners Customs from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as representatives from the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, Japan Customs, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Headquarters and JICA country offices in East Africa attended the meeting. Mr. Richard Tusabe, Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority chaired the meeting. Mr. Ernani Checcucci, Director, Capacity Building Directorate, represented the World Customs Organization (WCO) together with the Manager of the WCO/JICA Joint Project.

The Trade Facilitation Project in the East Africa started in 2007, with support from JICA. In 2015, the WCO and JICA concluded a Memorandum of Cooperation and initiated discussion on how to enhance cooperation between the two organizations to provide better support for Customs administrations. One of the concrete outcomes of this discussion was the development of WCO/JICA Joint Project on Trade Facilitation in Africa that was launched in July 2016. This was the first RJCC meeting following the launch of the WCO/JICA Joint Project. In his opening remarks, Mr. Checcucci outlined the history of the project and the synergies that the partnership provides, such as increased use of WCO’s international standards and access to WCO experts for the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Project in East Africa.

The meeting discussed a number of key issues on Trade Facilitation in East Africa including the benefits of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operations and the so-called "Master Trainer Programme" which has been contributing to the capacity building of both Customs officials and Customs brokers in East Africa in sustainable manner. The WCO/JICA Joint Project Manager introduced the upcoming activities to be held in 2017 in cooperation between the WCO and JICA. The participating Commissioners General and Commissioners Customs welcomed this development.

The Trade Facilitation Project in East Africa is expected to be completed by December 2017 and the WCO is committed to work with JICA and Customs administrations in East Africa to achieve the project objectives together through the new framework of WCO/JICA cooperation.