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BOC assures WCO of commitment to ‘Mercator Programme’

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THE Bureau of Customs assured the World Customs Organization (WCO) of its commitment to the ‘Philippine Mercator Programme’ during their meeting last April 13, 2023, according to a belated press statement from the bureau’s Public Information and Assistance Division (PIAD) dated May 9, nearly 3 weeks after the event.

The Mercator Programme is a flagship initiative of the WCO launched in 2014 to support customs agencies worldwide in implementing the WTO (World Trade Organization) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), in a uniform manner by applying WCO instruments and tools.

The WCO claims the programme as a “unique initiative” supported by the practical experiences of the global customs community and has been evolving to address the needs and requirements of its members, including those arising from the most recent challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The April 13 meeting, via video link, is aimed at reconfirming previous discussions between the BOC and WCO “and to ensure that Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio is fully onboard with the program,” the BOC said.

Attending for the WCO are Donia Hammami, Head of the Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme at the United Kingdom’s His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs-WCO-United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD), and Mr. Stephen Muller, a Time Release Study (TRS) and Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) expert.

Aside from the customs chief, other attendees on the BOC side are Assistant Commissioner Atty. Vincent Maronilla, along with other agency executives.

The meeting covered Customs Organizational Development projects, including the National Customs Trade Facilitation Champions, Competency-based Human Resource Management, Integrity Development, Leadership and Management Development, and Gender Inclusivity.

The discussion also delved into TFA Technical Measures, specifically the Time Release Study, Expedited Shipment – Air Cargo Streamlining, Authorized Economic Operator Program, Risk Management, and the National Customs Enforcement Network.

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