The First Workshop of the African Union Technical Customs Working Group on Pre-Shipment Inspections took place in Moroni, Comoros from 29 to 31 May 2019. The Workshop was organized by the African Union Commission, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO) West and Central Africa Regional Office for Capacity Building (WCA-ROCB). In his introductory speech, Mr. Souef Kamalidini, Director General of Comoros Customs, thanked the WCO for its technical assistance, which was central to the positive changes and reforms of African Customs administrations. The main objective of this Workshop was to create a framework for collaboration, and for sharing experiences and good practices between countries that have already terminated their contract with inspection companies and those still using them.
The Member countries which participated in the Workshop were Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Union of the Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone (represented by its Director General) and Togo. Regional economic communities and international organizations also took part in the Workshop: East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), World Customs Organization West and Central Africa Regional Office for Capacity Building (WCO WCA-ROCB), World Customs Organization (WCO), UNCTAD and the African Union Commission.
At this Workshop, the WCO’s representative gave an initial presentation explaining the initiatives taken as part of implementing the Niamey Declaration on the provision of inspection services by companies, as well as achievements and lessons learned. In a second presentation, the representative explained the purpose, milestones and success factors of the technical assistance provided by the WCO in bringing outsourced Customs functions back in-house, including tools and instruments developed under the WCO Revenue Package Programme and used in these technical assistance missions.
Above all, this Workshop provided an opportunity for administrations which have taken back in-house Customs functions previously outsourced to private inspection companies to share their experiences, good practices and positive results achieved in relation to the mobilization of Customs revenue. At the end of the Workshop, participants prepared a draft report, which contains recommendations submitted to the Sub-Committee of Directors General, States, Customs administrations and regional and international organizations. These recommendations focus on strategies for supporting and strengthening the capacities of Customs administrations in the West and Central Africa region in order enable them to bring functions outsourced to inspection companies back in-house.
On the strength of the positive results achieved by other Customs administrations in the past, the WCO continues its technical assistance and capacity-building efforts in support of those administrations which are preparing to bring their outsourced Customs functions back in-house in line with both the Niamey Declaration on inspection companies and the provisions of Article 10.5 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement prohibiting the outsourcing of tariff classification and Customs valuation functions.