WCO Strategic Plan 2019/2022: Consultation with the North of Africa, Near and Middle East Region

Consultation with Members on the new Strategic Plan continued with the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region.  Jordan Customs hosted the fifth regional workshop, held in Amman, Jordan, on 5 November 2018.

The workshop was jointly chaired by Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, and Mr. Ahmed H. Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Customs and WCO Council Vice-Chair for the MENA region.  Twelve of the MENA region’s eighteen Member countries were in attendance.

In their introductory remarks, the Vice-Chair for the MENA region and Dr. Abdelmajid Al-Rahamneh, Director General of Jordan Customs, welcomed the WCO’s consultative approach towards its Members when drafting the Strategic Plan 2019-2022.  They felt that the priorities and challenges of the WCO’s regions had to be taken into account in order to produce a consistent document based on the realities faced by Members. 

The Deputy Secretary General thanked the region for its warm welcome and repeated his commitment to strengthen Members’ involvement, which would be of particular importance in the establishment of the WCO’s main objectives for the coming three-year period.  He presented the main points to be discussed during the workshop and the timeline until adoption of the new Strategic Plan by the Policy Commission and Council in June 2019.

As it was the case in previous regional workshops, the discussions focused on the results of the survey on Members’ priorities, resource allocation under the current Strategic Plan, linkages between the Strategic Plan and the Environmental Scan and presentation of a draft proposal for a new Strategic Map, the basis for the entire content of the new Strategic Plan.

Delegates actively contributed and made valuable suggestions that will be duly taken into consideration when drafting the new Strategic Plan.  In particular, the MENA region felt that the Strategic Plan needed to comprise a limited number of Key Objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for proper performance measurement and it also recommended regular assessment of the implementation of WCO tools. 

The MENA region welcomed the fact that its own priorities were aligned with a number of the main priorities identified by the WCO, such as security, cooperation between Customs administrations and 
e-commerce.  Delegates were also of the opinion that the budget should be allocated according to priorities, and stressed the need for the WCO to be less dependent on external donor funds. 

Extensive discussions took place on the Environmental Scan, with the MENA region welcoming the approach aimed at embracing Customs issues within a broader environment, including matters not directly related to Customs but having an impact on Customs operations.  Delegates expressed their satisfaction with the proposal for a new Strategic Map and provided valuable suggestions for improving it.  They especially underlined the need to update the Mission and Vision Statements, and to properly reflect them in the final Strategic Plan document.

The Deputy Secretary General concluded that the meeting had been fruitful, and the numerous contributions by the delegates would be considered for the new Strategic Plan.  The Vice-Chair thanked the Deputy Secretary General once again for engaging the WCO regions in the discussions on the development of the new Strategic Plan. The Director General of Jordan Customs considered this initiative as a first step towards continuous exchanges between the WCO and its Members.

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.