The World Customs Organization (WCO) held a succession of online face-to-face meetings with the senior management and operations staff of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) on 02, 14 and 15 June 2021, to assess the status of the country’s Trade Facilitation Implementation in the context the WCO Mercator Programme, and to validate the current needs for further implementation support under the auspices of the “Sida-WCO Trade Facilitation and Customs Modernization Programme for Sustainable Development in sub-Saharan Africa 2020-2024”, funded by Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)-WCO Trade Facilitation and Customs Modernization (TFCM) Programme is committed to providing trade facilitation implementation support to 12 WCO Member countries that have respective memberships to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) regions, including Botswana. The objective is to contribute to improving the business environment for cross-border trade in the selected countries and across the affected regions. Specifically, the support to Botswana would cover multi-thematic areas of core Customs operations and organisational capacity development to simplify cross-border procedures and improve efficiencies in a sustainable manner through the BURS Customs reforms and modernisation programme.
The Programme is also focused on improving the enforcement capacity of Customs to regulate the cross-border flow of goods that are classified to impact global climatic change under the Montreal Protocol and the Basel Convention. In that regard, Botswana is expected to benefit from support that would enable BURS to keep a fair balance between the progress made in facilitating cross-border trade and maintaining the capacity to enforce regulations on climate-sensitive goods. The interactive meetings enabled the BURS participants to assess the status of the Mercator Implementation Plan that was recommended and agreed in December 2019 following a WCO Mercator diagnostic.
On the basis of the priorities that are mutually identified with BURS, the Sida-WCO TFCM Programme will provide multi-year capacity building and technical assistance support to Botswana’s implementation of the WTO-TFA. Similar activities are planned by the Programme with other beneficiary countries (including Burundi, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) to revitalise the WCO Mercator Programme support to the Member countries.
Story by: Riaan de Lange