The Trade Hub accompanied four representatives of the Customs Administrations of Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and SADC to Brussels, Belgium to attend the Second WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) Working Group.
The working group was held to update WCO members on the status of TFA negotiations, to discuss the WCO Mercator Program for TFA technical assistance, and to plot the way forward on WCO members adopting modernization programs required to comply with the TFA.
Approximately 170 participants attended, including WCO members, donors (World Bank, UNECE, UNCTAD, European Commission). All participants were eager to move forward on TFA compliance measures despite the stall in progress of the TFA by WTO members. Bevan Simataa, Commissioner of Customs, Namibia, was a panelist on the WCO Mercator Program panel. Willie Shumba, Senior Customs Advisor, SADC, engaged the Working Group on a number of discussion issues related to the “regional” implications for the TFA. Overall the Working Group was a huge success that paves the way for strategic planning efforts by WCO members to address the TFA and its requirements proactively.
During the Working Group, the Trade Hub arranged for its beneficiary partners to attend a meet and photo opportunity with the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mukirya, and other Executive Branch members. The Secretary General expressed delight at the level of assistance currently being provided by USAID to assist SADC members in moving forward with Customs Modernization efforts. Mr. Mukiya mentioned that he would be traveling to Washington DC in October and was eager to meet with USAID there to discuss ongoing technical assistance for TFA efforts in WCO member states.
The Trade Hub also arranged meetings with key representatives of the WCO Risk Management, Cargo Targeting System and WCO Publications units to familiarize the visiting customs officials with technical assistance available through the WCO itself. Meetings were also arranged with the Director of the WCO Capacity Building section managed by Erich Kieck, former senior manager for the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS), who is well-known to SADC and its members.
On the photo: Mr. Brian Glancy (Trade Hub), Mr. Philiso Valashia (Commissioner BURS), Mr. Bevan Simataa (Commissioner Namibia Customs and Excise), Mr. Shadric Namalomba (Commissioner Malawi Revenue Authority) and Mr. Willie Shumba (SADC) meet with Mr. Kunio Mikuriya (third from left), the Secretary General of the WCO.