The 7th meeting of the African Union Sub-Committee of Directors General (AUSCDGs) of Customs at Experts’ level commenced today in Kinshasa under the theme: “Co-ordinated Border Management-Enhancing Security and Facilitating Trade.” During the next three days, experts from Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), World Customs Organization (WCO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and World Bank, will examine the work done so far, consider the recommendations of the experts and reflect further on the issue of Coordinated Border Management in order to secure Africa’s borders and Boost Intra-African Trade in preparation for the DG Customs Meeting on Thursday and Friday.
The Chairman of the meeting, Mr. Narcisse Milandou, highlighted the slow customs procedures, poor transport infrastructure, roadblocks and stressed the need to promote intra-African trade for the benefit of the African people. He urged the assembly to continue efforts tirelessly and continue to forge contacts to victory over disorder at borders and corridors. He concluded by asking the experts to be imaginative to present to their principals with pragmatic recommendations.
Mrs. Treasure Thembisile Maphanga, Director of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, expressed her sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of DRC for agreeing to host the meeting. She highlighted the relevance of the theme taking into account both regional and global developments. She underscored the low levels of intra African trade due to obsolete infrastructure, inefficient and uncoordinated functions at ports and inaccessible roads, red tape and armed conflicts in some areas which make business in Africa more expensive as compared to other continents. She also underlined the fact that despite robust economic growth on the continent, Africa stills lags behind in terms of competitiveness. “Although both Africa and South East Asia had approximately the same levels of GDP per capita in the 1960s, South East Asia’s GDP per capita has since risen considerably more rapidly than Sub-Saharan Africa. Most worrying is that, Africa is not benefitting from its human capital potential and the entire region is underperforming significantly in various sectors”, she indicated. Mrs. Maphanga however also pointed out the positive steps being taken by leaders and experts such as the implementation of the Single Windows, Coordinated Border Management and the organization of the first Forum of customs experts on trade facilitation. She referred to the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation that highlights border management as a major component of achieving trade efficiency. She highlighted the fundamental policy direction taken by the AUC towards the actual creation of trade potential by developing a flawless trade facilitation environment through incorporating the Boosting intra-African Trade program in the African Union’s “Agenda 2063”. In his statement, the Director General of Customs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Deo Rugwiza Magera, thanked the audience for the choice of Kinshasa to host the meeting and welcomed all participants in Kinshasa. He reminded the participants that during three days, they will have to consider some very important points regarding customs issues given the negotiations that were launched in June 2015 by the African Union Assembly for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). According to the Director, issues such as Single Window, Co-ordinated Border Management, Trade Facilitation, Private Sector’s Involvement in the negotiations on the CFTA, use of new Communication Technologies in commercial transactions etc. will be discussed in order to come up with strong recommendations. He then pointed out that all these actions can be performed if there is a good coordination among RECs and Member States. Finally, he declared open the proceedings of the meeting.
The Opening Session of the 7th Meeting of the Sub-Committee of Directors General of the African Union at DG’s level, will kick off on 24 September 2015.