The WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group (TFAWG) met for the eleventh time on 4 and 5 March 2019 in Brussels at the WCO’s Headquarters. The meeting included a Joint Session with the WCO Permanent Technical Committee (PTC).
Over a hundred delegates, representing Customs, other Border Agencies and Trade Ministries from WCO Members, Observers from several International Organizations, the Private Sector and Academia participated in the event. The Meeting was chaired by Mr. L. Satya Srinivas (India).
The WTO Secretariat provided an overview of the latest developments and shared the relevant sources of information regarding ratifications, notifications and Members’ individual profiles, such as the WTO TFA Facility and TFA Database web sites.
The TFAWG agreed on the update of the Work Programme and Annual Work Plan 2019/2020 that provide direction to its future activities. It will be submitted to the June 2019 Policy Commission for endorsement.
The TFAWG was updated on the developments under the Mercator Programme, the WCO’s flagship Capacity Building Programme supporting WCO Members in implementing trade facilitation measures to enhance their economic competitiveness. The Secretariat informed the delegates of the ongoing work on the “Annual Report of the Mercator Programme”, to be launched at the next session of the Capacity Building Committee in April this year. The donors and the beneficiary countries had the opportunity to brief the TFAWG about the progress they had been making vis-a-vis TFA implementation. The Meeting was, furthermore, informed about the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) Grant Programme. The representatives of the SECO (Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland) presented the new WCO – SECO Programme. The Agreement was signed in December 2018 and officialized at the meeting.
On the second day of the meeting, the Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Trevino Chapa welcomed the delagates to the Joint Session of the TFAWG and PTC.
Through a break-out session, the Joint Meeting discussed the Time Release Study, one of World Customs Organization (WCO)’s strategic tools that has been widely used by WCO’ Members to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Customs administrations, other Government agencies and Private Sector stakeholders in relation to international movement of cargo, and especially more recently as a means of tracking progress of the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The TFAWG and PTC were updated on the establishment of the “Working Group on Performance Measurement”. Furthermore, the WCO Secretariat provided an update regarding the cooperation with the World Bank on the Doing Business survey.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat informed the Joint Meeting about the eCITES initiative on the integration of CITES into paperless Customs clearance processes and risk management.
The International Trade Center (ITC) provided a presentation on the Global Trade Helpdesk (GTH), a multi-agency response to the information gap in global trade. The WCO supports this initiative and works with other stakeholders in further developing the GTH. Then the Members also shared their experiences on the functioning of Integrated Enquiry Points established in line with the requirements of the TFA to answer reasonable enquiries of governments, traders and other interested parties.
The Joint Session discussed the strategic significance of the regional/plurilateral approach to AEO programmes and MRAs when implementing the SAFE Framework of Standards and the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, examined the outline of the first draft of a related tool and provided guidance.
The next meeting of the TFAWG will be held in spring 2020 back to back with the Capacity Building Committee.