Tunis Hosts the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Conference
The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, spoke at this event, outlining the current situation that Customs administrations around the world face, including supply chain disruption caused by COVID. He pointed out that over the last years there had been a sharp rise in the number of ecommerce packages, and he emphasized the importance of efficient trade management, supply chain resilience for the potential emergency in the future, and the role of the customs administration, including digitalization of border procedures towards paperless trade and contactless clearance to keep supply chain open; coordination among border agencies and cooperation between customs administrations and business; regional integration through application of tariff reduction based on the rules of origin to identify the eligibility of preferential tariff; capacity building for Customs administrations, in cooperation with the EU, JICA and other donors; trade facilitation measures, including OSBP with standardized operations; and the interoperability of Customs IT systems for effective sharing information of data. This year the African trade and customs summit will be held in Sandton in November (see below).
In her presentation at the conference, the WTO Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that there is “enormous scope” for Africans to benefit from regional and global trade, but this requires investment and support from international partners as well as domestic reforms within African countries to improve the business climate and trading conditions. She noted that Africa’s large and – thanks to the AfCFTA – increasingly integrated market of 1.4 billion consumers and entrepreneurs is growing. However, COVID has set Africa back several decades on poverty reduction, education, and job creation and brought back familiar problems related to debt distress. She urged global solidarity with Africa in the form of financial support and debt restructuring but also by encouraging investment and improving trading conditions, including through free trade agreements and special and differential treatment.
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