NEWS & EVENTS
Togo Customs Oﬃce Participates in Virtual TFWA Mission
In early March, the TFWA Program conducted a virtual mission in Togo to support the Togolese Customs Office/ Office Togolais des Recettes (OTR). Despite the ongoing pandemic, this virtual engagement allowed the TFWA team to work with the OTR and help build its performance around good governance and voluntary compliance.
The OTR Commissioner General requested the TFWA Program’s support to review and strengthen OTR operations toward systematically adopting a customer-centric approach to organizational performance. With this in mind, the program aims for an integrated and systemic transformation that will cover:
- holistic quality assurance;
- voluntary compliance of economic operators to customs and tax regulations; and
- conforming and increasing partnerships and cooperation with the private sector and with other border agencies. The end goal is to improve OTR operations and engagements with stakeholders.
Based on discussions during the virtual mission, the TFWA team would initially start by assessing and auditing the quality of the administration system. Next, the team would work to improve OTR client management by knowing, managing, and improving communication and client loyalty.
The OTR is a key partner and important focus for the TFWA Program. Optimizing the OTR’s organizational structure and shifting the office toward a culture of service— thus enhancing partnerships and further building OTR staff capacity—can change the cross-border trading ecosystem and catalyze easier, more efficient, and more cost-effective trade facilitation in the sub-region.
Leveraging the power of goods grouping to revive cross-border trade
Aside from being an economic lifeline to many, cross-border trade also guarantees food security by channeling food surplus from one region to another. Many cross-border traders source their produce from Togo, then travel to neighboring countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, or Ghana via passenger buses or taxis. Often, several packages are informally, individually transported across the border. To decrease the price of transportation, traders can group their goods into one truck, working together to save money.
Some goods grouping is already practiced by the Bonké bus station in Lomé, a station that conveys packages between Benin, Ghana, and Togo. If adopted more widely, goods grouping could help traders convey goods more frequently, at lower prices, and in safer ways. With the recent movement of people and goods drastically slowed down, and with the aim of alleviating the economic burdens facing many small-scale traders, Togo’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIT) and the National Cooperative of Road Hauliers of Togo (CNATROT) launched the TALDEO-TRANS initiative: a project to pilot goods grouping from Lomé to smaller areas within Togo.
Togolese stakeholders called on the TFWA Program to collaboratively develop a feasibility study assessing the potential market for goods grouping between Lomé and its hinterlands. The study will also look at grouping for cross-border transport between the Togolese capital and Ghana and Benin. The aim is to design the appropriate technical logistics to expand this model.
With TFWA Program support, goods grouping could become an important part of post-pandemic recovery for traders, sparking a wider trend in regional trading that is eventually replicated in other countries. The end goal is for the continued flow of goods and increased food security in this fragile sub-region.
National Approval Committee members in Cabo Verde, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, and Togo strengthen their skills on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme approval procedures
The TFWA Program supported the ECOWAS Commission Directorate of Customs Union and Taxation (DCUT) to organize a virtual training on ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) approval procedures. The workshops targeted National Approval Committee (NAC) members in in Cabo Verde (5th to 9th October) Guinea (12th to 14th October), Burkina Faso (15th, 16th and 19th October), Benin, Niger, and Togo (9th to 13th November). In total, 102 people completed the workshops, including participants from the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Regional Integration, Ministry of Finance, Customs Directorate, the Chamber of Commerce and National Export Promotion Body.
One objective of these nine workshops was to strengthen the functioning of the NACs by training their members on the ETLS mechanism. At the same time, the workshops aimed to provide ECOWAS Member States with a good number of trained ETLS resource people to facilitate activities, raise awareness, and train the national business community on ETLS, with a particular emphasis on highlighting the advantages of the scheme and the criteria for approval of companies and products.
The workshops allowed NAC members to master the ETLS mechanism, ensuring that a good number of ETLS resource persons are available in each trained ECOWAS Member State. Through these workshops, the approval process will be facilitated at the national level and the timeline for approval will be drastically reduced. Trainees will lead national awareness, information, and capacity building activities on the ETLS mechanism in order to strengthen regional integration in the ECOWAS region. As a result, the TFWA Program hopes to see a significant increase in the number of submissions of applications for approval to the scheme from these countries. Following the workshops, trainee-led national activities will also strengthen regional ETLS integration in the ECOWAS region.