BASC special guest at WCO Webinar: Fast-Tracking Cross Border Flows in a Crisis.
Due to the worldwide pandemic caused by the COVID-19 and its effect on trade, the Regional Consultative Group of the World Customs Organization (WCO) of the Eastern and Southern region of the African Continent held on May 21st, the Webinar: Fast-Tracking Cross Border Flows in a Crisis. The World BASC Organization was invited to this webinar with the participation of Mr. Fermin Cuza, International President. The conference discussed the most relevant customs and trade issues with a specific focus on how the pandemic has influenced operations in this specific region.
Mr. Fermin Cuza, was able to reach the African continent sharing the Organization's experience at a global level, focusing its presentation on the strategies adopted to continue to support the private sector on security issues during the current COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite of these times, BASC companies have continued their efforts to maintain the BASC Certification through the development of alternative processes such as the conduct of remote audits, virtual seminars and workshops. In these past two months, more than 10,000 people have attended our online activities. “This is a very favorable response from our member companies”, Cuza said.
On the other hand, he also highlighted the role of the WCO’s Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG), of which BASC is an active member, in promoting the AEO programs and automated processes.
Mr. Kazem Asayesh, Senior Advisor - Senior Advisor – TIR and Transit Services, World Road Transport Organization, shared his perspective on the impact of the pandemic in the region and stressed that the implementation of measures, in a coordinated and unified manner, is the key to adequately facing risks, in conjunction with the regulations imposed unilaterally by each country. Congestion has occurred and in some cases, there was a limitation on access to the transport of goods, even for essential goods. Queues of up to 60 km long at the borders were experienced, and quarantined drivers, among others. In this sense, he recommended the creation of national border agencies, as well as the implementation of international norms and standards, such as those promoted by BASC in the Americas. Mr. Asayesh also suggested clearly communicating on a timely basis any changes on border measures, avoiding the closure of borders to international freight, a designation of priority lanes for commercial vehicles at all borders, and extending the validity of expired control documents including visas - certificates and licenses.
Mr. Patrick Gyan, WCO Regional Development Manager, East and Southern Africa Region, commented that Customs, as a key organization during the initial phase of the crisis, seek to continue commercial operations, to guarantee the security of the supply chain and front-line staff, complementing and reinforcing the World Trade Organization (WTO), commitments to the seamless execution of global business processes. Finally, the WCO seeks development of partnerships to ensure that customs administrations receive reports on how to respond to emergencies at times like these to ensure that the customs trade process continues to run smoothly.
To conclude the agenda, Mr. Larry Liza, Director – World Customs Organization: East & Southern Africa, Regional Office for Capacity Building, explained how regulatory amendments and the closure of borders has impacted economic development and trade, and required us to face new challenges on investment and innovation in technology and communication infrastructures. He also emphasized the need for security and protection protocols for Customs officials in Eastern and Southern Africa to maintain their efficiency during the pandemic.
The World BASC Organization is pleased to have been part of this webinar thanks to the cooperation between the WCO and our organization, supported by the MOU signed since 2007 in which both organizations reiterated their commitment to promote secure international trade.
BASC is an active member and the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG) the Regional Private Sector Consultative Group among other private sector committees that support the plans and programs of the WCO.