On 10 February the Word Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General met with the Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia in Brussels at the WCO’s Headquarters following the deposit on 14 December 2020 of the country’s act of ratification of the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention also known as the RKC). Liberia now becomes the 125th Contracting Party to this Convention and it will enter into force for the country on 14 March.
During his meeting the WCO Secretary General highlighted that, in support of Liberia and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the RKC is a powerful instrument and if correctly implemented can contribute to boost trade, improve revenue collection, safety, and security controls. The WCO also reaffirmed its commitment to supporting African Customs administrations through its capacity building initiatives.
On 03 February WCO Secretary General, in his capacity as the depositary of the Convention, received the original of the Instrument of accession of Turkmenistan to the RKC from the Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the Kingdom of Belgium. Turkmenistan now becomes the 126th Contracting Party to this Convention which will enter into force for the country on 03 May 2021.
During his meeting the WCO Secretary General welcomed Turkmenistan’s willingness to open up for regional and global trade based on the international standards. The WCO is committed to supporting Turkmenistan Customs to strengthen connectivity along the supply chain with neighbouring countries and beyond, through sharing of best practices and participation in capacity-building activities.
It should be noted that this international instrument is considered as forming the basis for effective, efficient and modern Customs procedures. Having entered into force on 03 February 2006, the RKC is a WCO legal instrument regarded by the entire international Customs Community as a blueprint for modern Customs procedures in the 21st Century, which supports countries’ efforts towards the efficient and harmonious implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that entered into force on 22 February 2017. With the accession of the republic of Liberia and Turkmenistan, the RKC now has 126 Contracting Parties.
The RKC’s key elements include the application of simplified and harmonised Customs procedures in a predictable and transparent environment, the optimal use of information technology, the utilisation of risk management for efficient Customs control, a strong partnership with the trade and other stakeholders, and a readily accessible system of appeals.
In an international environment marked by a determination to implement the WTO TFA in an expeditious and harmonised manner and the efforts of Customs administrations to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, as well as to support the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the WCO welcomes the fact that the number of Contracting Parties to the RKC continues to grow, especially as this instrument is at the core of the WCO’s Economic Competitiveness Package (ECP) and contains a dedicated Specific Annex (Annex J5) dealing with the role of Customs in emergency situations and natural disaster relief.
Story by: Riaan de Lange