The third African Union Customs Expert Trade Facilitation Forum aiming to provide a platform to exchange and debate the best practices in the field of trade facilitation, kicked off yesterday at the Custom House, Mer Rouge in Port-Louis. Some 50 delegates from the African Union Customs Member States are attending this three-day forum which is being held at the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Multilingual Regional Training Centre.
On this occasion, the Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority, Mr Sudhamo Lal, highlighted that the global trade capacity of a country is an engine for growth and poverty alleviation. The ease of trade facilitation has a direct impact on the competitiveness of the global trade of a country, he added.
On that score, he reiterated the imperative need of having trade facilitation that enables a smooth flow of international trade. He pointed out that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement seeks to promote faster movement of goods and people across national borders, as well as reduction in transaction costs and encourage cooperation among various border agencies.
Mr Lal underlined that the African continent is expected to be a major economic player, with a projected economic growth of 2.6% for the sub-Saharan region in 2017. Since the African continent is emerging as a promising and conducive place for doing business, it is urgent to implement the necessary measures to achieve its strategic objectives, he underscored.
For his part, the Vice- chair of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs, Mr Gasper Konneh, underlined the crucial role of customs in helping Government strike a balance between trade facilitation and security.
He pointed out that the African Union has set out to work on three fronts to boost economic development. They are: the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement; the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area and the resurgence of organised cross-border crime and insecurity.
The African Union Customs Expert Trade Facilitation Forum is being organised in line with the Action Plan to boosting intra-African trade, endorsed by the African Union assembly of Heads of state and Government through their 2012 decision to trigger intra-African trade and fast-track the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.
The forum seeks to appraise participants on new developments and endeavours in trade facilitation as well as share best practices in the scheduling and implementation of trade facilitation measures. It also aims at providing political support in the ratification process of the WTO Facilitation Agreement and accession to the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention along with providing a forum for networking among trade facilitation practitioners in the supply chain.