at the invitation of mr. kristian vanderwaeren, director general of belgian customs, wco secretary general kunio mikuriya participated in today’s diploma award ceremony for the 26 graduates from 10 french-speaking african countries who attended the belgian customs school.
ambassadors and directors general of customs of the countries represented, namely benin, central african republic, chad, comoros, congo (republic of the), djibouti, guinea, niger, rwanda and togo, were also in attendance.
the belgian minister of finance and international cooperation, mr. alexandre de croo, opened the ceremony by congratulating the 26 officers for completing the school’s nine-month curriculum. he underlined the important role played by customs in securing revenue, facilitating trade and protecting society and explained that offering training opportunities to african customs officers was part of belgium’s contribution to economic development in africa. the minister also pointed out that togo’s current minister of trade had previously participated in the programme, bearing testimony to the value of the initiative.
in his address, secretary general mikuriya gave a brief overview of the discussions which had taken place at the wco council sessions held the week before. he mentioned that the directors general of customs administrations gathered for that occasion had highlighted the growing lack of predictability in the trading system as well as continuous technological developments, two trends requiring strong administrations at borders to guarantee security and support prosperity.
he also referred to the african continental free trade area that had recently entered into force. here too, customs administrations were expected to provide critical technical expertise to facilitate regional integration in the same way as european customs had contributed to the construction of europe. dr. mikuriya expressed his gratitude to belgium customs for organizing a training programme of this kind, which contributed to building cooperation among customs administrations by enabling officers to meet each other and develop a strong international network. the wco was pleased to participate in the programme by delivering courses and forming part of this network.