Steering Committee of the WCO ESA Project II meets in Botswana

27 二月 2019

The Steering Committee administering the WCO Customs Capacity Building project for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region, funded by the Finnish Government, held its first meeting of the year from 19 to 21 February 2019 in Kasane, Botswana. The project which was launched in 2017, is designed to assist developing countries in the ESA region make effective progress on trade facilitation, using the WCO’s international tools and instruments.

The objective of the meeting was to monitor progress made with the Project’s implementation and to develop an action plan for the first half of 2019. The meeting was moderated by the Vice-Chair of the ESA region, Mr. Dicksons Kateshumbwa, Commissioner of Customs, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).  The WCO was represented by its Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, who is overseeing the WCO Capacity Building Directorate pending the election of a new Director at the upcoming Council Sessions.

The Steering Committee meeting was also attended by Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa, Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Mr. Philiso P. Valashia, Commissioner of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service, Mr. Antti Hartikainen, Director General of Finnish Customs and Mr. Jan Koivu, Desk Officer, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Participants were welcomed by Mr. Machana Ronald Shamukuni, Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration who, in his opening speech, expressed his appreciation to the WCO for the support given to the region.  

The WCO Deputy Secretary General took the floor to highlight the actions to be taken to review and update the WCO Capacity Building Directorate’s current strategy, which has been in place since 2003. The new Capacity Building Strategy, to be discussed at the next Capacity Building Committee, will emphasize the role of the WCO’s regional structures and aim to standardize training delivery methods and expand the Organization’s network of experts and donors. The Deputy Secretary General also expressed his appreciation to the host country for its warm welcome and to the Delegates of the Finnish Government for agreeing to extend the Project for a further year. 

During the presentation of the Project progress report, it was announced that, by the end of December 2018, the following 12 of the 14 countries taking part in the Project had benefited from activities falling under the Mercator Programme, the WCO’s initiative aimed at assisting governments worldwide in implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Such activities relate, among other things, to the implementation of Time Release Studies, the deployment of a Single Window and the application of Human Resource Management, together with general support for regional autonomy.

Representatives from the ESA Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) also gave presentations on the region’s progress towards aligning itself with the trade facilitation agenda.  Finnish Customs then presented best practices for border management and a case study of tangible results stemming from the Project.

Over the course of the meeting, the Steering Committee approved the estimated budget for the rest of financial year 2018-2019 along with a detailed action plan in line with the ESA Regional Strategic Plan.  

The next meeting of the Steering Committee will take place in Brussels during the WCO Council Session week in June 2019.