From 1 to 3 June, 2016, the EU as Vice Chair of the WCO Europe region in cooperation with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Swedish Customs and the National Board of Trade of Sweden organized the 2nd regional workshop on the implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The workshop was held in Stockholm and participants included representatives of the WCO Europe Region which consists of 52 countries, the WCO Secretariat, the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and other international organisations.
This workshop was a build-up on the success and lessons from the first regional workshop that was co-organised with the WCO Secretariat and held in May 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The WCO promoted the Mercator Program and highlighted the main WCO tools and instruments for trade facilitation including for the implementation of the WTO TFA such as the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), the TFA Implementation Guide, the National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) Guide, the Coordinated Border Management (CBM) Guide, the SAFE Framework of Standards and others- and emphasized the importance of consistency implementation of the TFA using WCO global standards.
Ms. Eva Walder, Director-General for Trade in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs welcomed the participants stressing that delegates had an important role to play both for the transfer of expertise in the customs area and in the discussions on development aid that would be important in the meeting, adding that Sweden was one of the largest donors of development aid to help countries implement the WTO agreement. Ms. Therese Mattsson, Director General for Swedish Customs and Ms. Anna Stellinger, Director General of the National Board of Trade Sweden also welcomed the participants and underscored the importance of simplification of border procedures and the significance of the TFA in that regard.
The Vice Chair for the WCO Europe Region informed the workshop that as of May 2016, the EU had already put in place new and modernised customs legislation that meets the new requirements of the TFA.
Reactions from the participants were very positive and resulted in the adoption of a declaration that emphasizes the important role of customs in the implementation of the TFA including consistent implementation based on international standards that include WCO tools and instruments. Participants further agreed that the next Vice-Chairs of the region should build on this initiative in order to share knowledge and experiences in the TFA implementation