LONDON : On 12 and 13 May 2022, at the invitation of the Mr. Batsirai Chadzingwa, Commissioner of Customs of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in his capacity as WCO Vice-Chair for the East and Southern Africa region, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), attended the 28th East and Southern African Region (ESA) Governing Council hosted by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) in the newly inaugurated Integrated Customs Clearance Centre (ICCC) in Mauritius.
The Director General of the MRA, Mr. Sudhamo Lal, welcomed all the delegates to the regional heads of Customs meeting in Mauritius. In his opening remarks, Secretary General Mikuriya thanked the Vice-Chair and Mauritius for organizing the first in-person regional meeting and expressed his wish to welcome all the heads of Customs to Brussels, for the in-person Council sessions in June, after two years of online meetings that maintained the global Customs community connected but without opportunities to network. He went on to explain the focus areas of the WCO, as defined in the Strategic Plan, and the notion of fragile borders caused by international and internal conflicts.
The Governance Council was formally opened by H.E. Renganaden Padayachy, the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development. At the outset, the Minister acknowledged the crucial role played by Customs administrations during the COVID-19 Pandemic. He went on to underline the importance of utilizing various WCO instruments and programs in advancing Customs cooperation in support of national and regional development, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
During the meeting, heads of Customs adopted the regional strategic plan and approved the regional finance and governance arrangements. They welcomed the Kenyan government’s decision to provide the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) with the full status of international organization.
During his visit, Dr. Mikuriya had a courtesy call with H.E. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, in Port Louis. They discussed a wide range of issues, including Customs’ critical role in supporting economic development in the ESA region, the importance of coordinated border management, exemplified by the ICCC, and Customs contribution to preserving environment. They agreed that political will and people development are the key areas for Customs reform, in line with international standards and supported by the use of technology. Secretary General Mikuriya also had a meeting with H.E. Alan Ganoo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, who appreciated the good relationship between his country and the WCO and pledged the continued support of Mauritius to the WCO.