African Union Customs Experts gathered to discuss the Continent's Trade Facilitation Agenda
Brazzaville, Congo – 19 August 2015 –The first Customs Experts Trade Facilitation Forum organized by the Department of Trade and industry of the African Union Commission, in collaboration with Congolese Customs Authority and GIZ commenced yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting is held with the objective of focusing on providing a Forum for participants to appraise on new developments and endeavors in Trade Facilitation, Sharing of best Practices in the scheduling and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Measures, Providing a forum for networking among trade facilitation practitioners in the supply chain, validation of Terms of reference/studies on the gap analysis of the implementation of the WTO Trade facilitation Agreement in Africa , Provide a platform for exchange of views and experiences on issues of trade facilitation in line with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and movement of people across borders.
After welcoming the participants, Mr. Jean Alfred Onanga, the Director General of Customs and Excise of the Republic of Congo thanked the African Union Commission for choosing Brazzaville to organize this Forum. He said “This issues of trade facilitation in Africa, in line with the Action Plan for boosting intra - African trade and the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is the indisputable sign of the determination of the African Union, to realize the Action Plan approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union, at its 18th Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2012”. He added” This Forum is the first of its kind and will have the merit to consolidate and measure the process of trade facilitation”. He concluded by wishing successful deliberation for the 1st Forum.
Addressing the participants during the opening ceremony, Mr. Hussein Hassan Hussein , Head of Industry Division and the Acting Director of the Department of Trade and Industry, African Union Commission, thanked the Government of Congo for hosting this event and said ”………The trade facilitation cluster is seized with issues on how to expedite the movement of goods and people across national borders…….The subject of Trade facilitation has become so important and topical of late mainly because of the steadily growing global Trade volumes, the fall in tariffs due to trade agreements and other trading arrangements, the need to reduce transport costs and also availability of modern Technology” . He later added that “……..As you are aware the WTO Trade facilitation Agreement will enter into force once two-third of members have completed their domestic ratification process, to date, three African countries have since ratified the Agreement and 13 have submitted their notifications, we take this opportunity to call on our Members States and Parliamentarians to expedite the process of ratification of that Agreement”. He finally concluded by urging each and every one to share experiences and learn from others to implement sound Trade Facilitation practices.
Taking the floor, H.E Mr. Florant Ntsiba , State Minister, warmly welcomed the participants to the Congo land of hospitality on behalf of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso and said, “ African organizations and commercial actors needs to help African customs to establish more effective cooperation instruments to enable the continent to boost intra African Trade.” He also highlighted the importance of strengthening the capacity of African customs to enable them to implement Trade facilitation practices. The state Ministers wished a successful meeting and declared the Forum officially open.
African Union Commission