WTO updates May 2024

May 30, 2024

WCO supports the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) in the harmonized implementation of SACU’s Authorized Economic Operator Mutual Recognition Arrangement

The World Customs Organization (WCO)’s Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme, as funded by the United Kingdom’s His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in partnership with the SACU Secretariat and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), delivered a Workshop to support SACU Members to increase a harmonized approach towards implementing the SACU AEO Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). The Workshop followed a blended approach, with virtual sessions taking place from 2 to 12 April and a Workshop hosted by SARS in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 15 to 19 April.

The SACU Secretariat’s Deputy Director of Trade Facilitation, Ms Maggie Ngoanamokgotho Tladi, underlined the SACU strategic priorities as approved by the SACU Council of Ministers, underscoring the region’s commitment to enhancing trade facilitation, investment promotion and regional integration through the AEO Programme. In this context, the Workshop focused on joint efforts to increase the uptake of the AEO Programme in the SACU member states as part of the SACU AEO MRA adopted in May 2023. This endeavour seeks to ensure a harmonized approach and clear benefits for traders with AEO status across respective SACU member countries while expanding the AEO Programme to economic operators beyond importers and exporters.

WCO experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) shared their experiences in designing and implementing their respective regional AEO Programmes and MRAs, thus contributing to the SACU deliberations on further developing its operational instruments. The Head of the WCO’s Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme highlighted the importance of leveraging the benefits of the Customs-to-Customs partnership to share expertise, experience, and best practices to ensure traders can fully benefit from the potential that the SACU MRA offers. The Workshop cemented the AEO concept’s importance in boosting economies and regional integration through various tools and instruments.

WCO empowers Thai Customs to navigate the e-commerce landscape

A National Workshop on cross-border e-commerce for Thai Customs was delivered from 7 to 9 May 2024 at the Regional Training Centre of the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Bangkok. The workshop that gathered 20 Thai Customs officers was organized with the financial support of the Customs Cooperation Fund of Japan (CCF Japan). The objective of this capacity-building event was to raise awareness of the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce (E-Commerce FoS) with a focus on practical aspect of implementation. This contributed to the overarching goal of enhancing Thai Customs’ capabilities to ensure fast clearance of the growing volumes of small, low-value shipments ordered online, while handling safety risks and managing efficient revenue collection. 

Following a scene-setting presentation by Thai Customs, the Workshop facilitators provided detailed explanations on the main e-commerce business models, the various stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, as well as the WCO standards on advance electronic data and risk management, facilitation and simplification, and fair and efficient revenue collection. In addition to exploring the guidance provided by the E-Commerce FoS and the tools supporting its implementation, the various workshop sessions delved into the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines and Risk Management Compendium. Challenges in revenue collection and risk management for express consignments were discussed in break-out groups, yielding actionable ideas for the way forward.

WCO supports Sierra Leone in implementing its tariff based on the 2022 version of the Harmonized System

The World Customs Organization (WCO), in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), conducted a technical assistance mission for the benefit of the National Revenue Authority of Sierra Leone for the migration of its tariff to the 2022 version of the Harmonized System (HS). This mission, which is part of the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union, took place in Freetown from 29 April to 3 May 2024 and was conducted by experts from the WCO and ECOWAS member countries, namely Liberia and The Gambia. According to the provisions of the HS Convention, Contracting Parties are required to ensure that their customs tariffs and statistical nomenclatures for imports and exports comply with the HS. As a Contracting Party to the HS Convention and in accordance with the obligations arising from this Convention, Sierra Leone should update its customs tariff based on the 2022 version of the HS from 1 January 2022.

WTO: South Africa initiates second dispute complaint regarding EU citrus fruit measures

South Africa has requested WTO dispute consultations with the European Union concerning certain aspects of the regime imposed by the European Union on the importation of South African citrus fruit. The request was circulated to WTO members on 24 April.

WTO members review safeguard actions during latest biannual committee meeting

At its meeting on 22 April, the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards reviewed safeguard notifications covering 28 products received from members since the Committee’s last meeting in October. The meeting was chaired by Mr Eungkil Jeon (Republic of Korea).

WTO: Members review reforms to facilitate participation in rules of origin work

WTO members taking part in a meeting of the Committee on Rules of Origin on 29 April reviewed measures aimed at improving the functioning of the committee and using digital tools to facilitate the work of delegates. The committee also reviewed notifications and papers submitted by members, developments regarding preferential rules of origin for least developed countries (LDCs) and a possible new approach towards improving transparency in the notification of non-preferential rules of origin.




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