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Lusaka, Thursday, February 9, 2017: The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization Mr Kunio Mikuriya visited COMESA Secretariat, Thursday 9 February 2017 on a mission to explore partnership in promoting and advancing the integration agenda for the region.

“The objective of my visit is to interact with customs administration in the East and Southern Africa region on matters regarding the role of customs in trade facilitation whilst securing the trade supply chains using best practices,” he said.

Speaking during a meeting with COMESA team led by Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, Mr. Mikuriya said that partnership with COMESA was crucial as it provides an opportunity to share the initiatives being undertaken trade facilitation to enhance regional integration.

He said WCO has embarked on a programme to help in the development of Standards of Customs Procedures and to promote international cooperation and technical capacity building. He said his organization was pleased to work with COMESA, whose 19 States are also in the WCO membership of 180 countries.

Mr Mikuriya said his organization’s main concern was transit trade whose efficiency was affected by the performance of border services. He cited the One Stop Border Post initiated by COMESA as one of the transformative concepts in trade facilitation which WCO was advocating in other region of the world.

“Even though Customs delays are mainly perceived as the main bottlenecks, it is nevertheless the most transformed compared to other State services at the border points owing to its faster adoption of information technology systems,” he noted.

He said other State agencies must not be left behind in the IT transformation adding that his organization was working on an all-embracing initiative towards achieving this goal.

The Secretary General also pointed out that political will was a core enabler of trade facilitation and cited the successful interventions by political leaders in removing trade barriers.

Welcoming the WCO Chief to COMESA, Ambassador Cheluget said the two organizations shared common interests in many ways and more so in developing IT based transformative trade facilitation systems. He named the COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS) the COMESA Yellow Card and the Regional Customs Guarantee Scheme as some of the trailblazing technologies that have been adopted in other regions.

“COMESA is committed to regional integration with more than 20 years’ experience and we are ready to partner with WCO in easing doing business in the region through the simplification of the trade facilitation policies,” he assured adding that it was for this reason that the regional block was attracting non-member States like Tunisia and Somalia which have now applied for membership.

He said COMESA prides its self with numerous institutions dotted across the continent which are yielding positive results in advancing the regional integration Agenda as enshrined in the COMESA treaty.

The Commissioner General of the Zambia Revenue Authority Mr. Kingsley Chanda and senior officials accompanied the Secretary General .