The 5th Meeting of the WCO Working Group on the Comprehensive Review of the Revised Kyoto Convention (WGRKC) was held at WCO Headquarters in Brussels from 3 to 6 June 2019, consisting of a “Members/Contracting Parties Only session and a “Stakeholder Engagement” session.
Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, delivered opening remarks to delegates at both sessions. He thanked the Members/Contracting Parties and relevant stakeholders for their continued contributions to the comprehensive review of the RKC, flagging that the previous four WGRKC meetings had paved the way for future work: several proposals were now mature and had been consolidated to form joint proposals for further detailed discussion. Mr. Treviño Chapa also emphasized that the Working Group should continue to keep in mind the time and budget restrictions. He suggested that delegates pay attention to the need to modify the Terms of Reference of the WGRKC, in particular as regards possible participation of non-Members and Economic Customs Unions.
Mr. Treviño Chapa reported on his recent visit to the Caribbean Customs Organization (CCO), where he had been pleased to learn of future Contracting Parties to the RKC. He highlighted the value that the relevant stakeholders would bring to the work on the RKC, and very much looked forward to incorporating their views in terms of enhancing international supply chains.
During the first three days, Members/Contracting Parties held broad discussions within three sub-groups on the proposals submitted. These included proposals relating to the Periodical Update Mechanism, to Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation (RME), Data Issues, Electronic Declarations, Advance Cargo Information, Authorized Economic Operators, Perishable Goods, Customs’ Role in Security, Advance Rulings, Warehouses, Free Zones, API/PNR on passengers, Travellers, Rules of Origin, Coordinated Border Management, Single Window, and the Time Release Study.
Besides the sub-group discussions, Members/Contracting Parties held plenary discussions, covering, among other subjects, RKC horizontal issues, revision of the WGRKC Work Plan, and the WGRKC Terms of Reference. It was decided that certain proposals were sufficiently mature to be placed in Track D, meaning that there was general agreement to take them forward for text-based proposals/discussions. The progress made by the WGRKC, including the proposals involving general agreement, would be reported to the RKC Management Committee meeting on 17-18 June.
A number of private sector stakeholders, representatives from other international organizations, and members of academia, actively participated in the Stakeholder Engagement session, sharing their views on diverse topics. Some of the points made were:
- predictability and transparency were extremely valuable for the private sector, and it was therefore imperative to have greater levels of implementation of the Convention;
- a study on economic benefits of implementing the RKC was essential, since countries would be much more motivated to do so if they knew how much they stood to gain economically;
- the WCO should be clearer about its objectives, and focus on the level of implementation by Contracting Parties, rather than simply on increasing the number of accessions;
- there was the need for a mechanism to monitor and evaluate implementation;
- the RKC should retain its binding nature, and not be weakened by potentially incorporating “best-endeavour” commitments; and
- Contracting Parties should focus not only on getting their accession documents in legal order, but also on providing the necessary operational procedures, information and communication technology (ICT) support, and staff training, to ensure proper implementation.
Ms. Ana Hinojosa, WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation, concluded that the RKC should lay the ground for Contracting Parties to align their domestic procedures and improve their infrastructures and capacities.
After the panel session, relevant stakeholders introduced their proposals on Electronic Declarations, Advance Cargo Information, Electronic Payment of Duties, Risk Management for Expedited Release, Rules of Origin, Free Zones Relief Consignment, Refunds, and Expedited Shipments. These prompted keen interest and discussions from the Working Group. The WGRKC found it very beneficial to invite stakeholders to engage directly in the comprehensive review of the RKC, and will seek to continue with that arrangement. The RKC Management Committee meeting will review and provide guidance on the issues coming out of the WGRKC.