Custom experts consider termination of pre-shipment inspection

Group photo of the participants

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COMOROS -- The AU Technical Customs Working Group on Pre-Shipment Inspections deliberated on the termination of contracts with inspection companies at a meeting held in Comoros Island on 31 May 2019.

 The meeting by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the World Customs Organization Regional Office Capacity Building for West and Central Africa (ROCB-WCA) was an opportunity to reflect on strategies to strengthen the capacity of customs administrations, to autonomously perform outsourced customs functions and international standards including pre-shipment inspections.

During the meeting, discussions were also guided by sharing experiences on the initiatives by the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to terminate contracts with inspection companies.

Mr. Tafili Ebenezer, the Director of the World Customs Organization, Regional Office Capacity Building for West and Central Africa (ROCB-WCA), while recalling the Niamey Declaration on the provision of inspection services, which calls on governments, customs administrations and the WCO to actively work towards the termination of pre-shipment inspection measures at the national level, noted that the initial mission of pre-shipment inspections was to secure customs revenue through the control of the value, the tariff species, the origin and the quantity of goods. Further, he observed that West and Central Africa, remain the most affected region in the world by the phenomenon of inspection before boarding or destination.

WCO has developed a set of instruments and tools to assist Customs administrations in carrying out their reform and modernization programmes in a holistic and integrated manner, including a strategy for Customs to re-appropriate its externalized functions to inspection companies.

Mr. Aly Iboura Moussa, Head of Customs Cooperation Division, Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission while acknowledging the complexities of termination of Contracts of Inspection due to contractual agreements, underscored the need for a thorough approach to ensure the capacity of the administrations is strengthen in the process of terminating the inspections. “The use of pre-shipment inspections undoubtedly has a negative impact on the countries that still use them, particularly, with regard to customs capacity building”, he stated.

On his part, Mr. Souef Kamalidini, Director General of the Comoros Customs highlighted the importance of the meeting to facilitate dialogue and exchange of experience on the termination of pre-shipment inspection contracts, as well as strategies to be implemented for the proper appropriation by customs administrations. He underscored the role of Pre-Shipment Inspections noting that pre-shipment inspections are major technical elements in customs administrations to optimize collection of budgetary revenues.

Recommendations from the meeting will be submitted to the 11th meeting of Directors General of Customs of the African Union scheduled to be held in Uganda, in September 2019.

The meeting brought together the African Union Commission, Customs of AU Member States across Africa, West and Central Africa, Customs Department of the RECs (EAC, ECCAS, SADC and ECOWAS) of the WCA Region, WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building for West and Central Africa, International organizations dealing on matters relating to the performance of inspection companies, such as the World Customs Organization, the World Trade Organization and other United Nations bodies.