BRUSSLES : The WCO conducted its fifth regional consultation on WCO modernization with the West and Central Africa (WCA) region, recently. Several Member administrations and the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) for WCA participated in this fully virtual consultation, jointly chaired by the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs and Vice-Chair for the WCA region, Mr. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, and the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa.
In his introductory remarks, the Vice-Chair for the WCA region welcomed this opportunity to contribute to the modernization exercise. He pointed out how much WCO Members relied on the Organization for guidance and capacity building, making the modernization of the Organization a crucial initiative to improve its efficiency, accountability and overall ability to meet the expectations and needs of Members. The Deputy Secretary General fully agreed with the Vice-Chair’s statements and restated his view that Member involvement was at the heart of the process. He recalled that the exercise was still in its initial stages, given that the December 2022 session of the Policy Commission had decided to extend the timeframe to June 2024 and that consultations would therefore be pursued until that date.
The participants from the WCA region expressed their ideas and views on the seven specific items on the agenda for the regional consultations. They broadly felt that the WCO ought to remain the international centre of excellence in Customs matters. In order to achieve this, the Organization had to be able to attract and retain talent, be agile and responsive, and be financially independent in order to plan and deliver projects without disruption. They underscored the need for the WCO to remain Member-driven and to respond appropriately to Members’ expectations and priority interests.
The WCO Modernization Plan is one of the key deliverables specified in the Strategic Plan 2022-2025 for responding to the needs identified in the Focus Area “Governance and accountability”. The first round of consultations will be finalized in February 2023 and will be followed by additional developments and consultations throughout the process, with the objective of presenting a Modernization Plan to the Policy Commission and Council in June 2024 for endorsement.