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Small-scale cross-border traders (SSCBTs) are key economic actors in West Africa. Learn more about our work to understand existing constraints affecting SSCBTs especially women and design interventions to respond to identified constraints and ultimately make trade easier, cheaper, and safer.
NEWS & EVENTS
Team Côte d’Ivoire Strengthens NTFC Capacity
From March 20 to 26, the TFWA Program embarked on a mission to strengthen the role and capacity of the Ivorian National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) to effectively implement and coordinate trade facilitation policies.
On March 21, the TFWA Program hosted a workshop in Côte d’Ivoire, bringing together members of the NTFC and representatives of the Foreign Trade Directorate, and the Ministry of Trade. The workshop aimed to review the operational priorities of the NTFC action plan—established in collaboration with the TFWA Program following the maturity self-assessment exercise—and adopt a working methodology to implement them in accordance with commitments to the WTO TFA and the AfCFTA.
In May, the TFWA Program worked with NTFC members to develop and validate the gender strategy, a key step toward integrating a gender perspective into the functioning of the NTFC and national trade facilitation reforms. During the session, teams were formed to implement activities from the main action plan. Subsequent workshops were held with four working groups to finalize the NTFC work plan along the following themes:
- Access to information and automation;
- Simplified and streamlined procedures;
- Public-private partnership and compliance programs; and
- Cooperation and inter-agency dialogue.
The topic addressed by each working group includes several AFE Category C measures that have convergences in their technical implementation.
The TFWA Program will continue to provide technical support to the Ivorian NTFC as it makes progress in ensuring trade facilitation reforms deliver measurable improvements in the country.
Advancing Implementation of ePhyto in Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire has made significant strides in operationalizing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate faster, safer, and easier trade across its borders.
In March, the TFWA Program team supported the live test launch of the ePhyto solution, which is an electronic system designed to fast track the exchange of phytosanitary certificates and ultimately reduce the time and costs required to trade. This phase started with the attribution of access codes to the ePhyto module by the GUCE-CI (Côte d’Ivoire’s single window platform).
To complement the country’s ongoing SPS efforts, the TFWA Program team is currently planning to conduct a study—focused on cocoa and mango exports—to measure the benefits of the ePhyto and eRisk modules for the private sector. Between March 18 and 30, several consultations were held with stakeholders from the private sector to discuss the major phytosanitary constraints in obtaining certificates for cocoa and mango exports. With results from the sessions, the team developed a baseline survey (to measure the impact of the implementation of ePhyto at the end of the program) and hired technical experts to collect data in four key locations across Abidjan: Korhogo, Port of San Pedro, Port of Abidjan, and Abidjan airport.
TFWA Program Holds SPS Validation Workshop on Pest Risk Management
Following the pre-validation exercise held in February 2022 to improve sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in Côte d’Ivoire, the TFWA Program conducted a two-day workshop to validate seven legal and regulatory texts to improve the framework of pest risk management. The texts will contribute to the management of phytosanitary risks and reduce delays and costs related to phytosanitary inspections in the country. At the same time, they will strengthen collaboration between the NPPO and national plant health actors concerned with SPS.
The key stakeholders in attendance, including technical experts from the TFWA Program and representatives from Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), examined the proposals of texts and signed off on its technical contents.
The seven validated legal texts are:
- New law on plant protection (replacing Law n°64-490 of December 21, 1964);
- Decree for the application of the new law;
- Decree establishing attributions, composition, organization, and functioning of the National Committee of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, abbreviated CN-SPS-CI;
- Inter-ministerial decree specifying the details of the collaboration between the NPPO and the scientific research structures (public, private) in plant health (phytosanitary inspection, ARP, surveillance, phytosanitary protection, experimentations, studies, research, agricultural advice); and
- Order of the Minister in charge of Agriculture appointing the members of the national expert teams for the realization of the PRA, and the establishment and updating of the lists of pests, including quarantine and non-quarantine pests.
Over the course of the meeting, participants recommended several key next steps:
- Share the validated and corrected texts with participants for feedback;
- Consolidate the reviewed and corrected texts;
- Share the consolidated texts with the legal department of MEMINADER for formatting;
- Share the formatted texts to the Ministries involved for review and feedback; and
- Share the final texts to the General Secretariat for adoption and signatures.
SPS Validation Workshop for Safer Trade
On April 12, the TFWA Program team conducted a one-day workshop for representatives of the Directorate of the Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Animal and Halieutic Resources (DSV) to discuss and validate three legal texts (Ministerial acts or Arretés) to facilitate safe trade while also ensuring human and animal health.
The three validated texts:
- Establish the list of disinfectants used in breeding as veterinary drugs;
- Define the general rules and procedures for the certification of animals, animal products, and veterinary drugs for import and export; and
- Establish a list of priority animal diseases in Côte d’Ivoire.
Once adapted, the SPS measures will provide several benefits:
- Reduce time and costs of imports (for example, the cost of importing veterinary disinfectants is expected to drop from 22.5% to 2.5%);
- Reduce inspection time of animals, veterinary drugs, animal and animal-derived foodstuffs, and the issuance of the veterinary certificate; and
- Improve quality controls to safeguard human and animal health including epidemiological surveillance of animal diseases and emergency response plans
At the end of the workshop, the stakeholders agreed to:
- Share the validated and updated texts with the participants for feedback;
- Consolidate reviewed and updated texts and forward them to the legal department for formatting; and
- Submit final texts to the Chief of Staff of the Minister, DSV for signatures.
TFWA Supports Customs Strategy Workshop
Following a technical mission in March to revise the customs strategy and discuss transactional data-exchange between border offices with systematic reconciliation, the TFWA Program continued to provide technical assistance to the customs administration in Côte d’Ivoire.
From May 12 to 20, the program held a seminar in Bassam to develop the Customs 2022 - 2025 Strategic Plan and restructure the customs reform committee. The seminar was well attended by representatives from Ivorian Customs, including the President of Reform and the General Inspector, as well as the World Customs Organization (WCO) Director of the Regional Capacity Building Office. Overall, the seminar provided guidance on methodological aspects and relevant tools and techniques used in formulating an updated strategic plan, which covers several key elements (vision, mission, strategic axis, and performance indicators).
Thanks to the productive sessions, customs representatives requested that the TFWA Program facilitate a workshop on how to use customs intelligence information from the Regional Information Exchange Networks and WCO Customs Enforcement Network. Following the workshop, the program team in Côte d’Ivoire also made presentations on voluntary compliance (a strategic step to modernizing customs operations) to the GM and other key stakeholders, including the Deputy, General Inspector, Director of DARRV, Director of Customs Investigation Department, Director of the Regulatory and Legal Department, and the President of the Reform Committee. At the meeting, the team announced a planned program-sponsored study tour on voluntary compliance in the Netherlands for the Ivorian delegation in the coming months.
TFWA Program Meets with Donors
The TFWA Program’s work to improve trade facilitation is only possible thanks to contributions from program donors and with support from various regional institutions and partners. In March, the TFWA Program team in Côte d’Ivoire met with donor representatives to present the program’s key achievements and discuss next stages as the program moves into its final year of implementation. Participants at the meetings included: Ms. Anne Bisso, USAID Director; Mr. Mauro Miranda, First Counsellor, Head of Section (Trade) at the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; H.E Ms. Yvette Daoud, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Côte d’Ivoire; and Mr. Joel Amani Kouame, Senior Trade and Economic Advisor, Embassy of Netherlands in Côte d’Ivoire.
USAID: Ms. Bisso stressed the importance of strengthening coordination between the various existing trade initiatives that Côte d’Ivoire can fully benefit from, including the new Prosper Africa Program, aimed at supporting and strengthening trade between Africa and the United States, as well as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
USAID also confirmed support for the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and expressed strong interest in getting the World Bank to coordinate a donor meeting with the NTFC (to support coordination and needs-gathering for TFA-related projects).
EU: In the context of TFA implementation, the EU stated that it is necessary to raise awareness among economic operators. With the NTFC mandated to coordinate trade facilitation reforms, it is important to leverage existing platforms, such as WhatsApp, to disseminate trade facilitation-related information.
Embassy of Netherlands: A presentation on the voluntary compliance initiative sparked great interest and discussion, which focused on consolidating synergies with existing governance initiatives. The program’s efforts to support the Ivorian NTFC and strengthen its role as an inclusive and participatory platform were commendable. Representatives called on the program to continue to systematically integrate a cross-cutting approach in its reforms, for the benefit of women traders.
TFWA Program Supports First ePhyto Training
Following the successful launch of phytosanitary certificates (ePhyto) in Côte d’Ivoire—an endeavor heavily supported by the TFWA Program—the program recently hosted the first training session on ePhyto for the GUCE (Côte d’Ivoire’s single window for external/foreign trade).
ePhyto is an important way to reduce trade costs and facilitate safer trade. Other benefits include efficient documentation creation and exchange, reduction of time spent on customs clearance processes, and greater collaboration among stakeholders. The training session attracted representatives of the Directorate of Plant Protection, Control and Quality (DPVCQ) and the Ministry of Agriculture interested in learning how to implement the ePhyto solution. During the session, participants highlighted some key actions that have already been completed:
- Finalizing the connection between IPCC and the GUCE and;
- Conducting a workshop in partnership with COLEAP to outline and update the lists of regulated pests in ACP countries.
Over the course of the session, key next steps were recommended:
- Performing ePhyto tests (for products such as mangoes) with European countries recommended by the COLEACP.
- Conducting a field mission to implement a live test of the module at the port of Abidjan.
- Developing a baseline survey to measure the impact of the implementation of the e-phyto at the end of the project.
- Commencing configuration of the system to generate the control form.
Since last year, the TFWA Program has provided funding and technical expertise to countries across West Africa to achieve broader adoption of the ePhyto solution.
Pre-validation Workshop Improves SPS Measures
On February 23 and 24, the TFWA Program hosted a workshop at the Directorate of Plant Protection, Control and Quality (DPVCQ) of the Ministry of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) to improve the content of expert proposals before they are submitted to national stakeholders for validation. In total, 20 stakeholders participated in the physical workshop in Abidjan, with some more joining online via Webex.
The four internally pre-validated texts are:
- Preliminary draft of the (new) law on plant protection;
- Preliminary draft decree for the application of the (new) law on plant protection;
- Preliminary draft decree on the procedures of phytosanitary inspection, PRA, and plant quarantine;
- Draft inter-ministerial order setting out the details of collaboration between the NPPO and the structures of plant health
research and agricultural advice.
This initiative forms part of the TFWA Program’s support to improve sanitary and phytosanitary measures across the region. Through the TFWA Program’s technical and financial assistance, countries across West Africa will reap the benefits of trade with fewer import and export risks, greater access to international markets, and stronger guarantees around the safety of food and other products.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Workshop Takes Place in Abidjan
On January 27, the TFWA Program, with support from the private sector, conducted a workshop on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) procedures for representatives of importing companies. Hosted at the World Bank Office in Abidjan, the workshop allowed participants to exchange lessons and share experiences. Specifically, the workshop focused on procedures related to obtaining the various documents issued by the Veterinary Services (DSV, SICOSAV, etc.) of the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries when importing goods.
Participants focused on several issues, bringing light to key topics:
- The different types of operator activities;
- The types of documents issued;
- Procedures for obtaining the documents issued;
- Time required to obtain the documents issued;
- Costs related to obtaining these documents; and
- Challenges encountered during import operations and solutions.
Advisory Agreement Signed between Côte d’Ivoire and IFC
On January 13, the Ivorian government signed an assistance agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The agreement was signed by Souleymane Diarrassouba, the Ivorian Minister of Trade and Industry and IFC’s Resident Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, and is part of the TFWA Program’s efforts to reduce trade transaction costs along the Abidjan-Ouagadougou corridor while at the same time strengthening private sector commitment.
Speaking at the meeting, Souleymane Diarrassouba highlighted collaboration as a key step in improving trade competitiveness along the corridor, one of the six major trade corridors in the West African region. He stated that collaboration will, in time, improve trade
flows and efficiency. He mentioned that the agreement is in line with Côte d’Ivoire’s solidarity vision, which considers the private sector a critical lever for growth, with an expected contribution of 75% under the 2021-2025 National Development Plan. Olivier Buyoya reaffirmed IFC’s commitment to assisting the Ivorian government to strengthen performance along the corridor and boost economic development.
With support from the TFWA Program, Cote d’Ivoire has already successfully established an information portal (Portail Web d’Information Commerciale, or PWIC) and single window for trade (Guichet Unique du Commerce Extérieur, or GUCE-CI). These innovations streamline customs inspection procedures and, as a result, reduce time and costs related to export and import customs clearance, especially for private operators.
TFWA Program Meets with COLEACP on ePhyto Implementation
On November 11, a working meeting between the TFWA Program and the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) mission provided an opportunity to present activities related to the implementation of the electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhyto) solution in Côte d’Ivoire.
The ePhyto solution is an important part of the drive to streamline border processes. ePhyto reduces time for cargo clearance and unnecessary cost burdens in trade. Other benefits include greater time efficiencies in documentation creation and exchange, reduction of time spent on customs clearance processes, and greater collaboration amongst different stakeholders.
Following the agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Côte d’Ivoire’s single window of trade, the TFWA Program team confirmed that the system will be operationalized in December. This means the system will be in place and in use
during the country’s mango trade season in March and April. To support the process, COLEACP will link the Ministry of Agriculture with European importers to test ePhyto exchanges.
The TFWA Program supports governments across the region to effectively implement ePhyto solutions while strengthening plant and public health protection.
TFWA Program Holds Validation Workshop on GUCE - CI eRisk Module
In December, the TFWA Program held a one-day workshop at the Ministry of Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire to validate the Guichet Unique du Commerce Extérieur (GUCE-CI, Côte d’Ivoire’s single window platform) eRisk module. The session gathered 11 participants—mainly representatives from the TFWA Program, the Ministry of Agriculture, and GUCE—to test the viability of the module using selected ‘high-risk’ food products (for example, rice and potatoes). The workshop aimed to build the capacity of selected stakeholders on the module’s functionality and use.
The eRisk module is designed to streamline Customs inspection procedures and, as a result, reduce time and costs related to export and import Customs clearance, especially for private operators. Additionally, the module will support the implementation of the electronic phytosanitary certificate, or ePhyto solution. The ePhyto will be fully operational in December. The TFWA Program identified the optimization of risk management for SPS and ePhyto solutions to streamline trade as part of the action plan developed to strengthen the GUCE-CI. This action plan was approved by the government of Côte d’Ivoire after the completion of a risk management diagnostic mission in March 2020.
Once enabled, the eRisk module is expected to cover several areas in identifying and addressing risks:
- The codification of risks according to the specificities of the sectors of activity;
- The classification of products according to the risks they present;
- Dematerialization of risk analysis procedures for plants and plant products;
- Sanitary and phytosanitary inspections on priority risks; and
- Anticipation of SPS risk management measures for imported goods by the NPPO.
In the coming weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture, with support from Ivorian Customs, will finalize the list of products to be included on the platform, followed by a second workshop to validate the module and the list in February 2022.
Launch and Scoping Meeting of the Voluntary Compliance Framework Project Held
On December 6, with support from the TFWA Program, the Customs administration in Côte d’Ivoire launched a strategic framework for managing regulatory compliance in the fight against Customs fraud and to provide implementation support for the voluntary compliance of companies. More than 20 members of the Customs administration attended the event, including the General Manager. The framework aims to create an enabling environment for the eventual full operationalization of a national voluntary compliance scheme. The framework also
strives to support the Customs administration with the successful implementation of the new compliance strategy, policies, and standard operating procedures (including sensitization classroom training). At the same time, the framework accounts for on-the-job mentoring of Customs officers, managers, and business entities as well as providing auditing, monitoring and evaluation services to support sustainable delivery. These goals support the TFWA Program’s overarching vision to make trade easier, faster, and more cost effective in Côte d’Ivoire and across the region.
TFWA Holds Inclusive Project Management Workshop for NTFCs in Côte d'Ivoire
The TFWA Program piloted a workshop on Inclusive Project Management for NTFCs on 23 and 24 June in collaboration with the NTFC of Côte d'Ivoire. The hybrid sessions gathered 29 participants and enabled productive exchanges with a particular focus on practical exercises around the adoption of a result-based approach to trade facilitation.
The TFWA Inclusive Project Management curriculum focuses on the essential need for NTFCs to conduct a robust and truly inclusive stakeholder mapping exercise to foster an environment conducive to cross-border trade reforms. It also forms part of the TFWA Capacity Building framework for NTFCs and is one of the components of the foundational training pathway the TFWA has designed to equip all NTFCs in West Africa with the minimum level of capacity to effectively fulfill their mandate. NTFCs are linchpins for the successful implementation of trade facilitation reforms, and this pathway aims at enhancing their sustainability and maturity levels. The Inclusive Project Management for NTFCs two-day workshop is built around the following key competencies: Adapting the fundamental concepts of project management (PM) to the mandate and specific work of the NTFC and mainstream the inclusive and gender sensitive approach.
The NTFC of Côte d'Ivoire identified this activity as a priority task through its Maturity Self-Assessment completed in June 2021, and subsequent validation of its NTFC Action Plan.
At the end of this workshop, participants can follow and apply the preparatory steps and tools to engage an inclusive consultative process to ensure success and relevance of the TF projects cycle. With lessons learned from this pilot and valuable feedback from participants, similar workshops are now planned for the NTFCs that have identified it as a priority in their NTFC Action Plans.
TFWA Recommendations Help Establish Quarantine Pest List for Côte d’Ivoire
Based on recommendations made by the TFWA Program, on September 9, the State Ministry of Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire signed a text (or “decision”) to establish a quarantine pest list for 14 plants and vegetal products. This is a major step toward implementing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) reforms for the benefit of trade in the country. Once adapted, the SPS measures will provide several benefits to the private sector, including:
- Reduced risks of marketable yield and product quality for agricultural producers as a direct result of the measure;
- Reduced risks of product / service quantity and quality issues for industry actors beyond agricultural producers;
- Improved predictability and increased reliability of freight transport along the Côte d’Ivoire - Burkina Faso corridor;
- Improved importation and exportation procedures;
- Less time and costs spent on the importation of products; and
- A stronger SPS risk analysis system, meaning better quality control at the border.
Additionally, the reform covers measures to protect keystone and endangered plant species and improve local economies, food security, and the livelihood of farmers.
The application of SPS measures decreases import and export risks, giving traders and countries access to international markets while guaranteeing the safety of food and other products. The TFWA Program supports SPS measures in countries across West Africa through targeted capacity-building workshops and the provision of financial and technical support for SPS Committees.
Implementing a New eManifest Module – Côte d’Ivoire’s Single Window
At the request of the government of Côte d’Ivoire, the TFWA Program completed an assessment of the country’s information portal (Portail Web d’Information Commerciale, or PWIC) and single window for trade (Guichet Unique du Commerce Extérieur, or GUCE-CI). The assessment aimed to evaluate PWIC and GUCE-CI operations, make recommendations for their improvement, and ascertain impacts on end users, namely the private sector.
As a direct result of this report, GUCE finalized its plan to improve engagement with the private and public sectors, counting on TFWA Program support. The TFWA team organized several meetings with the GUCE team to improve the eManifest module’s efficiency and to identify bottlenecks. As result, an action plan to strengthen the efficiency of the single window was prepared and approved by stakeholders. Another detailed action plan to improve PWIC efficiency was submitted to the government. The action plans considered private sector’s main concern—the eManifest module is not working.
As a result of this work, an updated and more efficient version of the eManifest module was launched on November 18, 2020. This came in direct response to the recommendations made in the TFWA-funded diagnostic report. The new module is meant to be more efficient, thus reducing to trade for the private sector. Based on data provided by the Ivorian single window for trade, the time to upload a manifest has been successfully reduced from 96 hours to 30 minutes. This marks a major achievement for Côte d’Ivoire, the TFWA Program, and those interested in trading in the region.
Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso Hold Final Meeting Before SIGMAT Rail Launch
On June 15, key implementers from the Abidjan-Ouagadougou corridor held a final preparatory meeting before the official rollout of SIGMAT Rail, which is expected at the end of June 22, 2021. Participants reviewed areas of concern and ironed out final details before the launch. This included reviewing the user guide and legal texts (protocoles d’ accord and accord cadre) that allow the exchange of electronic data between the two customs administrations.
SIGMAT is a customs interconnection project that aims to use information technology to facilitate trade, transport, and the free movement of goods within the region. SIGMAT offers benefits to governments, financial institutions, and the private sector, as it paves the way for shared data in real time, which will ultimately reduce waiting times and increase revenues through reduced transit and transportation costs. The TFWA Program is supporting the SIGMAT rollout and will continue enhancing collaborations between stakeholders in the Ivoirian and Burkinabe trade facilitation ecosystem. Following this launch, the program aims to launch SIGMAT for improved customs interconnectivity across West African corridors.
TFWA supports faster and more efficient customs reforms in Côte d’Ivoire
After a successful risk management diagnostic mission in March, the TFWA Program has further committed to supporting Ivoirian Customs’ multileveled reforms. In fact, the program will help the country implement an anticipated risk analysis on sea and air manifest while also enhancing the customs valuation process.
About the anticipated risk analysis on sea and air manifest:
In Côte d'Ivoire, risk analysis currently only applies at the time of customs clearance of goods, based on the elements of customs accounting. Good international practice shows the value of applying risk analysis based on elements of manifests and sea or air bills of lading—improving the detection of fraud, trafficking, and criminal offences. Today, Ivorian Customs is willing to extend its approach to controls based on risk analysis to manifests. The TFWA Program will support information and training on this practice while encouraging the establishment of the methodology, processes and procedures needed for operational-level implementation.
About the customs valuation process:
Following the diagnosis of the World Customs Organization in 2018, the TFWA Program will update the assessment of the value determination process and procedures. TFWA support will allow for the reallocation of human resources to more thoroughly handle the most complex cases. The program will also strengthen DARRV capacities in the area of customs valuation, in particular through the improvement of material and logistical training capacities. Implementation will also enable the transition from a culture of cumbersome controls of customs administration to a culture of service, which is now characteristic of modern, agile, and efficient customs. This is an essential step in managing change for a customs body that strategically aims to promote trade facilitation as a key factor in economic development in a globalized world.
Côte d’Ivoire commits to gender mainstreaming by setting up Trade and Gender Working Group
The TFWA Program worked with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) Secretariat to create a Trade and Gender Working Group, which was convened for the first time in September. The working group comprises 12 members, including representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, Customs, the Chamber of Commerce, Borderless Alliance, two industry advisory bodies, and three industry associations. Twenty-five percent of these representatives are women. Formalities of this approach were minimal, as the creation of the working group required only the spoken approval of the President of the NTFC, which was obtained retroactively at the general NTFC meeting that followed. While the gender ministry has been invited to join the working group, a representative has not yet been appointed.
The working group’s inaugural meeting focused on sensitizing members to the trade and gender nexus, the results of the TFWA gender and small-scale cross-border trade studies, and planning for the formal presentation of these studies to the broader NTFC. The subsequent meeting will focus on defining objectives for 2021 and gathering relevant trade data to build the case for gender inclusion. In 2021, the working group will explore the possibility of integrating the newly re-initiated "cellules genre" in the trade and transport ministries, identifying gender champions, and supporting the TFWA Program's NTFC gender capacity-building agenda, including through workshops (as the pandemic allows).
Customs and SITARAIL collaboration supports rail customs computerization
On September 15th, a technical meeting was held with Ivoirian and Burkinabe Customs, SITARAIL, ECOWAS, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Bank. The meeting aimed to present UNCTAD, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’ Ivoire with Customs and SITARAIL’s collaboration for the computerization of the rail customs process. Additionally, the meeting focused on the exchange of IT data. SITARAIL has carried out the computer developments necessary to integrate the management of data exchange with the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) into its system. SITARAIL was also able to present ASYCUDA’s different windows for the processing of rail-specific data.
UNCTAD asked Customs from two countries to provide a test environment to integrate the IT data exchange solution and to verify the correct functionality of this new development and of the data exchanges with SITARAIL. The integration of this new module can then be completed in each country, testing and validating the system before the pilot phase is launched (scheduled before yearend).
Another meeting was held on September 24th with Customs of Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, the WCO, and the World Bank to finalize and validate two legal texts: "Joint Circular" and the "Framework Instruction on the Extension of the Interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT) to International Rail Transit Between the Customs Administrations of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso," which will legally allow the two countries to exchange customs data. These texts will be signed by Customs Directors General at the pilot project’s launch ceremony, which should be organized by the end of the year.
TFWA Program Workshop Targets Key Ivorian Stakeholders
On March 12 and 13, the TFWA Program hosted a workshop in Yamoussoukro, bringing together members of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), the Ivorian government, professional associations, and the private sector. The two-day workshop aimed to: i) develop project sheets for selected category C measures; and ii) identify and formulate projects that could benefit from technical assistance and capacity-building support related to the implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The workshop included presentations from World Bank and NTFC Secretariat experts, who discussed the TFWA Program, the status of national TFA implementation, Côte d'Ivoire's Category C measures, and the Commercial Information Web Portal (PWIC), a one-stop shop for trade-related information. During the sessions, the NTFC Secretariat indicated that several achievements had been made since the establishment of the NTFC in 2015. With that said, Côte d'Ivoire still requires enhanced assistance to implement category C measures.
This workshop represents an important step in facilitating trade between Côte d’Ivoire and other countries, while also maximizing the benefits resulting from the TFA. At the end of the two-day gathering, the workshop enabled NTFC members to find appropriate methodologies to elaborate technical assistance project sheets. The workshop also helped identify the type of technical assistance needed in relation to category C measures. Further, the TFWA Program team helped draw up project sheets concerning Articles 1, 6, and 8.
In addition to these outcomes, several recommendations emerged from the workshop. The program team outlined a number of next steps, including the elaboration of a strategic plan to be submitted to the TFWA Program. Providing ongoing support to stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire, the TFWA Program will help strengthen awareness, assess the NTFC, and establish the technical secretariat to facilitate coordination.
Ivorian Missions Focus on Customs Risk Management and Sanitary
and Phytosanitary Systems
From February 17 to 27, the TFWA Program team conducted two missions in Côte d’Ivoire. The first mission aimed to evaluate the Ivorian customs risk management system. The second mission—which happened simultaneously—strived to evaluate the sanitary and phytosanitary system at Côte d’Ivoire’s borders, including at airport and land borders.
With a focus on customs risk management, the team met with several customs directors, visiting the airport’s customs office, the port’s customs office, and the border post of Noe (between Noe, Côte d’Ivoire and Elubo, Ghana). These meetings were conducted to evaluate current customs risk management practices, including the use of the authorized economic operator (AEO) classification system. By identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and treating risks, customs can significantly improve its performance.
As a result of the mission, the team realized that the current risk management system is operational, but needs to be strengthened. Moreover, it became apparent that customs did not fully understand the concept of the AEO, indicating the need for more training. The customs reforms committee agreed with the TFWA Program team’s findings and, as a next step, the team will develop an action plan to help strengthen and improve the customs risk management system.
To advance sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, the TFWA Program also met with key Ivorian ministries, laboratories, and controlling sanitary and phytosanitary entities. Following this mission, stakeholders agreed to receive support from the TFWA Program, principally around the categorization of sanitary and phytosanitary risk and norms. To this end, an action plan will be put in place with experts and involved stakeholders, including customs.
Following both missions, the TFWA Program team is planning to host a workshop presenting key stakeholders with the results of the research, encouraging further dialogue. Based on stakeholder feedback, the team will support the preparation of efficient action plans. Importantly, both action plans will be synchronized—improving trade facilitation within the country. The TFWA Program also highlighted the importance of including Burkina Faso in the action plan, to create impact along the entire corridor.
Rail Customs Interconnection Meeting Advances TFWA Program Objectives
From January 13 to 17, the TFWA Program hosted a rail customs interconnection meeting in Abidjan. Following a previous rail customs interconnection meeting in October 2019, the workshop focused on the monitoring, evaluation, and extension of the SIGMAT solution to railway transportation between Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
In total, 35 participants attended the meeting, including representatives from Burkinabe and Ivorian customs offices, the SITARAIL railway system, the World Customs Organization, UNCTAD, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and Communauté Portuaire d’Abidjan. The meeting aimed to establish SIGMAT rail implementation planning procedures while creating road interconnection appraisals—to solve issues faced by both administrations related to the current interconnection process. The group also prioritized reaching agreement on rail technical specifications. Further, attendees strived to finalize the joint circular, which provides framework instructions for the application of SIGMAT to international rail transit between Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.
During the meeting, the group finalized the joint circular, which introduces the rail concept on interconnection. Importantly, the meeting allowed technical specifications for rail processes to be discussed and agreed. Because the SIGMAT solution for rail implementation planning has been agreed, as a next step, a pilot launch will be scheduled.
SIGMAT Implementation Meeting Advances Data Exchange in Burkina Faso
and Côte d'Ivoire
From January 6 to 10, the TFWA Program hosted a customs interconnection technical meeting with stakeholders focused on the Abidjan-Ouagadougou corridor, one of the program’s six priority trade routes. Following last October’s rail customs interconnection meeting in Ouagadougou, the Bollore Group’s railway company, SITARAIL, funded and organized this technical meeting. Held at SITARAIL’s training office in Abidjan, this gathering aimed to define a data exchange architecture between the SITARAIL railway system and the SIGMAT system used by the customs administrations of Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.
Twenty stakeholders participated in the meeting, including the SITARAIL IT department, freight forwarders, a team of two Burkina Faso customs IT officers, and the Ivorian IT team. Following this meeting, stakeholders improved their understanding of the rail procedures. Additionally, participants learned the technical specifications that will allow them to develop interfaces with SITARAIL, SIGMAT, and the two customs authorities.
Regional customs administrations play an important role in trade facilitation, creating the foundational structures needed to advance the TFWA Program. This meeting laid the groundwork for the program to continue to advance its mission and objectives in the region.
TFWA Program Supports PWIC and GUCE Efficiency in Côte d'Ivoire
From January 13 to 23, the TFWA Program hosted a mission to evaluate the state of the Commercial Information Web Portal (PWIC) and the Single Window for Foreign Trade (GUCE) in Côte d’Ivoire. Requested by the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), through the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, the mission aimed to find out how the TFWA Program could help both tools become more efficient.
The PWIC was first created by the Ministry of Commerce, with support from the International Finance Corporation. By strengthening this website, the TFWA Program hopes to facilitate the dissemination of user-friendly materials, providing a comprehensive source of information on imports, exports, and transit. Importantly, the website will also provide information on all regulations, procedures, and requirements to trade in Côte d'Ivoire—another critical part of facilitating trade in the country. The PWIC has the ability to serve as a key tool saving the private sector time and money, underlining its importance to Ivorian trade and the TFWA Program.
Launched in July 2013, the GUCE was designed to provide any individual wishing to trade to or from Côte d’Ivoire with clear procedures and adequate support to carry out their activities online. Specifically, the GUCE aims to facilitate the importation and exportation of goods with a simple, fast, and efficient single point of entry for the exchange of electronic information between regulatory agencies and trading participants. The TFWA Program hopes that, with support, the GUCE will gradually consolidate all information relating to foreign trade onto a single transactional portal.
For economic operators, such as traders, these innovations provide faster clearance times, a more transparent and predictable process, and less bureaucracy. For the national economy as a whole, the PWIC and GUCE encourage improved transparency, better governance, and reduced corruption, due to fewer opportunities for physical interaction. With this in mind, the TFWA Program shared a draft report with the NTFC and other stakeholders and, as a next step, the program will host a workshop to encourage stakeholder dialogue toward an action plan—encouraging further improvements to both platforms.