The fourth regional workshop on the WCO Strategic Plan 2019/2022 took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 29 and 30 October 2018. On this occasion, the WCO engaged with the West and Central Africa (WCA) region as a continuation of the consultation process approved by the WCO Council at its June 2018 Session.
The workshop, held back to back with the 9th Meeting of Capacity Building Contact Points of Customs Administrations of the WCA Region, attracted significant interest. The audience was made up of 10 countries from the region, together with the WCA Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and the African Union. Keynote speeches were given by Mr. Louis Paul Motaze, Minister of Finance of Cameroon, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, and Mr. Edwin Nuvaga Fongod, Director General of Cameroon Customs, thus demonstrating the strong commitment by regional executives to the development of the next WCO Strategic Plan. The workshop was jointly chaired by the WCO Deputy Secretary General and Mr. Karinka Condé, from Guinea Customs and representing the WCO Council Vice-Chair for the region.
In his introductory remarks, the Deputy Secretary General explained that the environment in which Customs administrations are operating has changed dramatically in recent years. Accordingly, the new Strategic Plan has to adopt a modern approach to keep pace with the latest trends in technology, trade and regulations. Full account has to be taken of Customs’ evolving role, especially when it comes to links with facilitation and security. The increasingly important role played by Customs in security matters should not be at the expense of its role in trade facilitation, and the WCO is indeed committed to strengthening both these roles.
Mr. Treviño Chapa reminded delegates of the main objectives of the work carried out on the new Strategic Plan, in close consultation with WCO Members, and of the different timelines up until the Plan’s anticipated adoption by the Policy Commission and Council in June 2019. Through a set of presentations, he gave an overview of the main features of the initial proposal for the WCO Strategic Plan 2019-2022, based on the outcomes of the questionnaire issued in August 2018 and the conclusions of the three regional workshops already held.
He explained that the new Strategic Plan will focus on specific areas of work which are aligned with WCO Members’ main priorities. The content of the Strategic Plan will be informed by due consideration of the global environment in which Customs administrations operate and on smarter and more transparent cost allocation. The entire Strategic Plan will be coordinated through interlinked priority issues, outlined in the new Strategic Map.
The workshop participants welcomed the WCO’s efforts to involve its Members at every stage in development of the Strategic Plan. They welcomed the fact that the main priorities presented by the Deputy Secretary General were aligned with their own priorities as a region, presented in their recently adopted Regional Strategic Plan 2018-2022. Productive discussions during the workshop led to concrete suggestions that will be considered by the WCO when producing an initial draft of the Strategic Plan for the December 2018 Policy Commission.
Participants generally underscored the need to develop proper performance measurement tools to assess the practical implementation of Strategic Plan priorities. They felt that managing human resources, countering security threats and implementing trade facilitation measures should be high on the WCO’s agenda. They also said that the WCO Mission and Vision Statements should be reviewed to better reflect Strategic Plan priorities.
By organizing these regional workshops, the WCO Secretariat is fulfilling its obligations in terms of transparency and also with regard to its mandate as a Member-driven organization, ensuring that its Members’ views are incorporated in the WCO Strategic Plan 2019-2022.