The 4th WCO Global AEO Conference – ‘Promoting Mutual Recognition of AEOs to Strengthen and Secure Global Trade’ concluded in Kampala, Uganda on 16 March 2018. The conference brought together more than 1100 participants from 95 countries and provided a platform for 125 speakers.
During the conference a total of 4 panel sessions, 3 round tables and 49 workshops were organized, together with live demos focussing on operational practices directly related to international trade, such as the 17 — point trailer instruction and track – and — trace systems. Participants were involved in the discussions on how Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes and Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) can provide a secure business environment for economic development, enhance compliance level and increase revenue collection and trade facilitation, obtain more benefits with coordinated border management including MRA at both the bilateral and plurilateral level.
Several issues that ran across the 2.5 days include the need to build trust not only between Customs and private sector companies but also among the Customs authorities, the need to standardise and harmonise the AEO programmes around the world, the different ways of harnessing the upcoming technology solutions, the possible threats to the AEO programmes and MRAs due to trade facilitation benefits, the importance of promoting the AEO programmes to SMEs, the increasing role of intermediaries, among other topics.
The Conference also saw presentations on the successful implementation of AEO programmes in the EAC region and inspired other regional blocks to implement such programmes and learn the lessons from the experience acquired. The participants were also interested in learning the different ways to involve the private sector in the discussions and consolidate the partnership with Customs and other government agencies.
The Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Uganda delivered a closing speech, highlighting the impact of the conference on regional countries and the need to further promote the benefits of AEO to the private sector companies. She congratulated the WCO for organizing this major event in Africa and commended the Uganda Revenue Authority (WCO) for their commitment and dedication to make this conference a successful one. The Commissioner General of URA, Ms. Doris Akol, invited the participants to collect all the ideas, initiatives and information obtained during this Conference and use them effectively in their respective countries. The Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Dickson C. Kateshumbwa, thanked all the participants for their contribution to this conference.