On 11 November the World Customs Organization (WCO) announced the publication of the second edition of its Mercator Programme Report.
The Mercator Programme, launched in June 2014, is the WCO’s flagship initiative helping members and governments worldwide to implement trade facilitation measures, particularly those associated to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), expeditiously and in a harmonised manner by the application of WCO tools and instruments. With a wealth of expertise and experience in global Customs technical assistance and capacity building the Mercator Programme provides tailor-made support for implementing trade facilitation measures. Based on a long-standing history of cooperation with the WTO, other international organisations and the private sector, the Mercator Programme acts as an important vehicle for coordinating the needs and priorities of all concerned stakeholders.
The first edition of the Mercator Programme Report covered the period from its launch in 2014 through to 2018 and provided an overview of the emergence of the programme during its first four years. It offered insights into the approaches, the tools, the people and the partners that define the achievements and distinctiveness of the programme.
The second edition covers the period up to June 2020 and provides a current overview and highlights some common implementation challenges, outlining how the Mercator Programme is assisting members in providing tailor-made solutions, delivering relevant support activities to overcome them, and then monitoring and recording implementation progress. The report also includes a series of descriptive case studies that demonstrate the connection between the TFA and the real-world application of WCO instruments that are already delivery-tangible achievements in many member administrations with regard to effective TFA implementation.
Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to cross-border trade movements across the world. It is now even more critical that Customs administrations continue to facilitate the international movement of goods to help minimise the overall impact of the pandemic on economies and societies. The Mercator Report reflects on how Customs administrations should continue to maintain a coordinated and proactive approach with concerned agencies to ensure the integrity of the global supply chain. In this regard, the WCO Secretariat has been exploring and utilising alternative arrangements that have allowed the WCO to continue providing its technical assistance and capacity building support, including through the Mercator Programme, by using various on-line tools and remote delivery activities.
Story by: Riaan de Lange