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African Union Directors General of Customs discuss Co-ordinated Border Management in order to enhance security and facilitate trade

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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The 7th meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General (AUSCDGs) of Customs commenced today in Kinshasa under the theme: “Co-ordinated Border Management-Enhancing Security and Facilitating Trade.” The meeting is attended by Directors General from Member States, Representants from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), World Customs Organization (WCO), and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The objectives of the meeting are to carry out an examination of the work done so far by the various Customs Technical Working Groups in addressing the issues in the Trade Facilitation Cluster of the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-African Trade, to exchange views and reflect on the way forward on the theme of the meeting.

The Director of Customs and Excises of Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Déo Rugwiza Magera, welcomed the African Union Directors General of Customs and wished them a wonderful stay in Kinshasa. He recalled the theme of the meeting and admitted that it is in line with the current economical movement of Africa. He pointed out that the efficiency of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will depend on the Cooperation of the African countries to ensure smooth flow of trade. “It is important to define a common policy and take into account specificities of each country in line with the Bali Agreement. Therefore, the theme of this meeting is in line with Trade Facilitation Agreement signed in Bali and I congratulate the African negotiating group that conducted the negotiations by putting first the benefits of the Agreement for African people”, he stated.

The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Mr. Kumo Mikurya thanked the Democratic Republic Congo for the warm welcome and expressed the readiness of his Organization to assist and support the country's initiatives launched in the framework of reform and modernization through human resources capacity building. “It is important to boost African economies through trade and interconnectivity. The World Customs Organization has constantly worked with the Congo Customs to achieve the Single Window initiative. I salute the presence of the Minister of Finance for the Political Will of the Democratic Republic of Congo”, he said.

Representing H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, Mrs. Treasure Maphanga, Director of the Department of Trade and Industry, expressed her gratitude to the authorities of Democratic Republic of Congo for hosting the 7th Ordinary Meeting of the Directors General of Customs and thanked all the Directors General for their attendance.

Mrs. Maphanga recalled the theme of the meeting and indicated that the theme is both timely and relevant as Customs Administrations need to coordinate their activities at borders in order to make them secure and also allow them to be smooth for movement of goods and people across national borders. “For customs Administrations to effectively deliver on this mandate, you need information but, even more so, we recognize you are only one among many other actors in the trade facilitation area. Customs Administrations therefore, need to work even more closely with other agencies and stakeholders who play a role in facilitating trade and movement of persons across borders”, she pointed out. The Director for Trade and Industry explained that 14 African countries have submitted their commitments to the Category A of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement and 3 have already ratified it. The Director also highlighted the fact that despite African progress in economic growth, the progress is not adequate to make up for the lost decades of economic stagnation that preceded the recovery. “What we must bear in our minds is that poverty is not natural, it is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings”, she emphasized. She urged the participants to come up with sound recommendations to steer the continent's Trade Facilitation and Regional Integration agenda.

In his opening statement, the Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Henri Yav Mulang thanked the African Union Commission and the audience for the choice of Kinshasa to host the meeting and welcomed all participants in Kinshasa. He explained to the participants that the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will depend on the Coordination in Borders Management. “The definition of a common Co-ordinated Borders Management is crucial for the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs)” he indicated. He also informed the meeting that the Democratic Republic of Congo has also signed agreements with other African countries for the smooth movement of goods and people. The Minister announced that the Democratic Republic of Congo has now a new bill on Customs that will shortly be submitted to the Parliament for ratification. Finally, he urged the meeting to come up with strong recommendations that will help to increase the Intra-African Trade and change the lives of the African people, and declared the meeting open.

The conclusions of this 7th Meeting will be presented to the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Mining, and to other Policy organs of the Union for further consideration and endorsement.