Fourth WGRKC meeting: Driving the comprehensive review of the RKC with momentum

The fourth Meeting of the WCO Working Group on the Comprehensive Review of the Revised Kyoto Convention (WGRKC) was held at the WCO Headquarters in Brussels from 3 to 5 April 2019. Approximately 37 new proposals and 10 revised and detailed proposals from Australia, Egypt, EU, India, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay were extensively discussed by Members.

Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, in his opening remarks, thanked all the proponents for their contribution towards the review exercise. He highlighted the necessity of meeting the tight timeframe of finalizing the comprehensive review by June 2021 as decided by the Council. In order to improve the efficiency of the comprehensive review exercise, Mr. Treviño suggested that Members should reflect on the possibility of adopting new working modes, for example use of sub-group discussions in parallel, and utilizing the intersession, during which certain Members may work closely together to further develop their joint proposals on the same subject. Reminding the delegates that several proposals were mature enough to move towards the drafting phase this Autumn, Mr. Treviño also drew Members’ attention in particular to the Specific Annex D2 on Free Zones, where the definition of free zones lacked uniformity among relevant international organizations, and looked forward to the draft text on this subject, based on Members’ proposals, in the second half of this year.

Besides the plenary sessions, where the WGRKC discussed several items, including the Structure of the RKC, Stakeholder Engagement and possible Agenda Items for the 5th Meeting, the three Sub-groups thoroughly examined Members’ proposals concerning the Body of the Convention, the General Annex, and the Specific Annexes of the RKC.

On the last day of the Meeting, the Sub-groups reported the outcomes of the review of proposals to the WGRKC. As a result, proposals fell under Track A (discussed and agreed proposals), B (proposals requiring further discussion) or C (proposals lacking further input that would not form part of the final recommendation), a methodology previously used. Remarkably, the WGRKC agreed to place some proposals, (e.g. Advance Cargo Information, Authorized Economic Operator, Customs Role in Security, Free Zones, Rules of Origin, and Passenger) under discussions as joint proposals. In addition, the Meeting agreed to place the proposal on periodical update mechanism under Track D; an indication that a proposal should move towards the phase of text drafting in light of its maturity.

The WGRKC still attached importance to the issue concerning the engagement of stakeholders and agreed to hold a one day session for relevant stakeholders during the next meeting of the WGRKC. Mr. Treviño suggested that the WGRKC could begin with introducing developments of the comprehensive review to stakeholders in order to provide them with an overview of the work. Proposals from stakeholders, among other things, were expected to be discussed, with the proponents present at the next meeting.

Members observed that the WGRKC was driving the comprehensive review with momentum while setting a solid foundation of the review. The WGRKC will hold the fifth Meeting from 3 to 6 June 2019 and continue the discussions on the proposals from Members and stakeholders, as well as other pertinent issues.