WCO lists benefits of MTP to AfCFTA implementation

Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General

The World Customs Organisation (WCO) Secretary-General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya has empathized on the importance of the Master Trainer Programme (MTP) on Rules of Origin (RoO) and WCO’s series of commitments to support the implantation of AfCFTA and the increase of connectivity in Africa.

Dr. Mikuriya stated this in his opening remarks at the launching of the Master Trainer Programme (MTP) on Rules of Origin (RoO) for Africa last week.

The ceremony took place virtually with the participation of 16 Customs administrations in Africa, namely Botswana, Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, as well as a number of regional entities such as ECOWAS, UEMOA, EAC, and AfCTFA Secretariat. The event was organised by WCO/JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Joint Project

Mikuriya pointed that the MTP was also linked to the WCO accreditation policy and expressed WCO’s hope for Master Trainers could be fully utilized inside and outside of Africa and explained that as shown in the past that the MTP encompasses the 4 Ts, namely tool, training, technology and trust that are fundamental to WCO activities. “This is how the Master Trainer Program or MTP has been developed in Africa in close collaboration with the JICA.

He stated that the MTP in Africa made a tangible success and the MTP-credited experts already trained more than 20,000 Customs officers and business people in Africa over the three years.

According to him, the new MTP for Africa on RoO is very timely as it will be supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Moreover, touching that the European Union also decided to launch an EU funded project on RoO in Africa to support the implementation of the AfCFTA which would be managed by WCO, he explained that as the sole organization specialized in Customs, WCO was in an ideal position to ensure synergy and coherence of different donor-funded projects while avoiding unnecessary duplication, hence both JICA-funded and EU-funded programs would enhance human capability in a collaborative manner.

Mr. Toshiyuki Nakamura Senior Vice-President of JICA said the WCO/JICA capacity-building project continued to strengthen trade facilitation in Africa, as well as the MTP for 16 African WCO Members. With the continuous dedication of WCO, JICA, and Japan Customs, this program is now widely recognized in Africa, and around the world, as a great collaborative model for how Africa can build a pool of high-quality experts in African Customs administrations. The MTPs were so far able to strengthen the skills of 140 Master Trainers, across 16 countries, including in the specialties of customs valuation, HS classification, and intelligence analysis, and post-clearance audit.  

He explained also that now with this new MTP on RoO was decided between WCO and JICA given its importance to the success of the AfCFTA. Since Japan will be co-hosting the summit meeting called TICAD VIII in Tunisia next year, the AfCFTA has garnered the attention of both Japanese and African citizens. JICA is aware that cooperating in the field of trade facilitation to promote Africa’s regional integration is vital. Therefore, we believe strengthening the capacity of Customs officers on Rules of Origin is a key factor for AfCFTA’s success.

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