Customs’ involvement in African trade receives boost as AfCFTA, WCO sign MoU
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and World Customs Organisation (WCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which aims at strengthening the organizational capacity, transparency, and effectiveness of African Customs administrations in a sustainable manner through cooperation between both organizations.
The MoU was signed on 15 February 2022 by Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), and Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, at WCO Headquarters.
In his remarks, Secretary-General Mene explained that it had been a long road since the establishment of the AfCFTA Secretariat, saying that 41 of its 54 member states had duly ratified Rules of Origin for 87.7% of tariff headings agreed upon, to name but one milestone.
He recalled the mandate of his Secretariat and stated that Customs’ involvement is essential in order to realize the ambitions laid out in the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA. He also noted that expectations were high and that communities were eager to start trading under the Agreement.
The AfCFTA Secretary-General then acknowledged the WCO’s expertise and role in delivering capacity building in highly-technical areas which were key for implementing the Agreement.
After congratulating his counterpart for the work done by the AfCFTA Secretariat, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the areas where the WCO could contribute, including customs technical matters such as the Harmonized System, Valuation and Origin, as well as automation, risk management, and trade facilitation which will yield economic benefits to the African continent.
He went on to outline the WCO’s long experience in developing capacity-building materials for Customs administrations and in donor coordination to ensure the efficient delivery of training. He reaffirmed WCO’s commitment to contribute to the regional integration efforts in Africa through customs modernization.