Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies – Launch of the 14th IT Conference & Exhibition

Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomes  delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers.

Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomes delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers.

The 14th annual WCO IT Conference & Exhibition was officially opened on 6 May 2015 in Freeport (Bahamas). Senior Government representatives of The Bahamas Government opened the 3-day Conference in the presence of over 400 participants from 75 countries.

The Right Honorouble Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas thanked the WCO for choosing The Bahamas for this very important global Conference. The hosting of this WCO event is an example of the government’s commitment to bring business opportunities to Grand Bahama!

The Prime Minister further continued by reminding the delegates that the WTO concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 and about its potential of reducing international trade costs of approximately 12%. He underlined that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement owes much to the technical work that had already been carried out at the World Customs Organization.

In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed: “Our efforts are very much consistent with the theme of this Conference “Inclusiveness Through Information Technology”. It is in our interest here in The Bahamas to pursue an inclusive approach to the introduction of the new IT systems. These new systems must bring benefits, not only to government, but also to commercial operators and to the general public who will use these services. We recognize that with the introduction of these IT systems we must adopt a more client focused and customer orientated approach to make it easier to conduct business.”

The Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomed the delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers. The Secretary General emphasized the theme of this year’s Conference “Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies”, adding that it addresses three key priorities of the WCO Members – Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, Regional Economic Integration and Coordinated Border Management.

Mr. Charles Turner, Comptroller of Customs and Excise Department of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, stressed that the IT Conference & Exhibition comes at an important juncture for The Bahamas as the Customs Department implements the Trade Sector Support Program. Having such a broad range of exhibitors and international delegates provides a rare opportunity to share ideas and learn from the experiences of others. Source: WCO

Implementing the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation

WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation

Click on the image to download the Infogram

It is anticipated that most Customs and Border Authorities have at least one common item on their national capacity building agenda’s for 2014 – the Agreement on Trade Facilitation. Many countries, being members of the WCO, would have already acceded to a level of commitment to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). This requires of them to introduce, at an agreed time, the principles of WCO standards and policies according to the level of their sovereign commitment.

The General Annex to the RKC is the bare minimum a country would be expected to implement in order to for it to be considered compliant with the RKC. From a trade perspective, this also indicates the extent to which your country’s leaders have committed itself towards ‘global integration’.

What the recent Trade Facilitation Agreement (ATF) in Bali does is bind member states to a compendium of requirements necessary for the enactment of certain conditions and obligations as set out in the various articles contained in the agreement. Countries should also note that certain of the ATF provisions include items under the Specific Annexes to the RKC. For a quick reference to see how the RKC and other WCO standards and conventions stack up to the ATF, refer to the WTO Trade Facilitation Toolkit by clicking the hyperlink.

In addition to this, the ATF also makes provision for ‘special and differential treatment’ in regard to developing and least developed countries (Refer to Section II to the WTO ATF).

In essence this allows those countries and opportunity of identifying their (capacity building) needs and setting themselves realistic targets for implementation and compliance to the ATF. To this end 3 Categories are identified for national states to consider in the event they are not at present in a position to accede to some or all of the ATF conditions.

The WCO has also prepared various tools which aim at assisting its members in assessing their national position in regard to the ATF. Members are likewise encouraged to regularly visit the WCO website for updates in this regard.

The following working papers are available from the WCO website and, for ease of access, are listed below together with their hyperlink to the WCO site –

Other related Trade Facilitation documentation can be found at the following link – WTO Trade Facilitation Negotiations

Text of the WTO Free Trade Agreement

WCO to develop Implementation Tool for WTO ATF

WCO and WTO leaders meet in Geneva (WCO)

WCO and WTO leaders meet in Geneva (WCO)

At the invitation of WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya met with Mr. Azevedo at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 20 January 2014. They agreed that close cooperation between the two organizations is vital for successful implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF).

Secretary General Mikuriya emphasized the consistent and complementary nature between the ATF and the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). He also described how the WCO Economic Competitiveness Package, that includes the RKC and all other Customs trade facilitation instruments, guidelines and best practices, will support implementation of ATF. Mr. Mikuriya also confirmed his readiness to involve other international organizations, development banks, donors and other stakeholders at a WCO forum to contribute to cooperation in support of the ATF.

Director General Azevedo was pleased to hear that the WCO was planning to publish an implementation tool to connect each provision of the ATF to WCO tools as well as a briefing document enabling Customs administrations to communicate with trade ministries. He expressed his willingness to leverage WCO expertise and experts for the WTO Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation as well as ATF needs assessment and implementation. Mr. Azevedo also suggested that the ATF provides another opportunity for the two organizations to enhance the good working relations that already exist in many areas beyond trade facilitation.

The two leaders also discussed how multilateral institutions could work on regional integration matters and agreed on the importance of adopting global standards and best practices to ensure connectivity at borders. Source: WCO

Mozambique – Single Window and other Customs developments

The Single Electronic Window (JUE) is a modern system of clearance of goods. After the revision of the whole legislation to allow the implementation of the JUE, the pilot project began in September 2011 in the port of Maputo. Here follows an interview with Kekobad Patel, the President of the Working Group On Tax Policy, Customs and International Trade of the CTA.

What was the adherence of international traders?

“We hoped more adherence of all concerned traders, unfortunately, very few participated in the pilot phase. During this period, both systems (manual and electronic) coexisted. There is always some resistance to change.”

When did the use of the JUE become mandatory?

“The use of JUE became mandatory on April 9, 2012 in the port of Maputo,on April 23 in the port of Beira, early May in the port of Nacala. The city of Tete is now also covered by the system because of the current requirements due to the establishment of large enterprises in the region.”

How many organizations have used the JUE?

“Since its entry into force until 15th of June 2012, over 7,000 import entries were submitted. We still do not deal with export declarations, transit, or special arrangements. These processes are handled manually.”

What are the next areas to be covered by the JUE?

“The second phase will begin in July 2012 and will focus on automotive, multi-modal and road terminals in Maputo, as well as the land borders of Goba, Namaacha (Swaziland) and Ressano Garcia (South Africa) that have received the equipment to begin operations. At the end of the year, the port of Pemba and the land borders of the province of Manica and Tete will be also covered. It will also be possible to treat the other procedures for export and transit. This is crucial, given the geographical location of Mozambique and its relations with the countries of the hinterland. Meanwhile, three Ministries will be electronically linked to award the import licenses: the ministries of Health, Industry and Commerce, and Agriculture. We should not forget that banks are also involved in the JUE. The BCI bank has supported the JUE since the pilot phase. Other banks have joined in recent months: Millenium BIM, Mozabanco and Standard Bank. We expect the membership of other banks.”

What is the biggest challenge of the JUE?

“The implementation of the JUE has led to a change of mentality: “paperless” in the country: less buffer, less paper. The government itself is also involved in the process of e-taxation that ensures that taxpayers should pay their taxes electronically. We still have problems to solve. For example, when a ministry inspects companies, papers are asked for… We need to think about alternatives. The castle must be built stone by stone to ensure it is strong and other sectors such as the public one and banking, are also involved.We believe that the entry into force of the JUE shows how to modernize the country.”

Is the JUE to eliminate the clearing agents?

“The law allows companies to make their own clearance process, but many of them are not prepared. In other countries such as Singapore, the most advanced country in terms of customs, clearing agents continue to exercise thanks to their perfect knowledge of the system.” Source: allAfrica.com

Other news – Mozambique accedes to the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention

On 11 July 2012, the Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique to Belgium deposited Mozambique’s instrument of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention) with the World Customs Organization. The Convention is regarded as a blueprint for effective and modern Customs procedures, and will enter into force in Mozambique on 11 October 2012. Mozambique becomes the 82nd signatory to the Convention. Some of the Convention’s key elements include the application of simplified Customs procedures in a predictable and transparent environment, the maximum use of information technology, the utilization of risk management, a strong partnership with the trade and other stakeholders, and a readily accessible system of appeals. Will be interesting to see how Mozambique Customs treats the national transit procedure?