Border Agency Cooperation Workshop
The Border Agency Cooperation Workshop took place in Capetown, South Africa from the 14th to the 16th of November 2018.
The event took place on the basis of long-running feedback from Members that border-agency cooperation was proving a challenging element of TFA implementation. 77 participants representing the main border agencies (including trade, customs and SPS agencies) were invited from 13 Southern African countries; Angola, Botswana Ethiopia, Kingdom of Eswatini, Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Speakers also attended from the WTO SPS Committee, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the International Food Standards (CODEX), both of which sit at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Standards Organization (ISO).
The purpose of the workshop was to improve border agency cooperation at the national and regional levels as provided in articles 8, 10 and 11 of the TFA. Specifically, the workshop sought to raise awareness of the linkages between the TFA and SPS Agreement, and explore ways in which coordinating border clearance processes could facilitate trade, while ensuring/reinforcing human, animal or plant life and health. Attention was also given to improving cooperation among border agencies in transit countries.
Following presentations and an evaluation session, participants worked in groups to identify the following main 'takeaway' points from the whole workshop:
- Spearhead the implementation of the agreements and at the same time to coordinate between the implementing agencies through the NTFCs!
- NTFC members should take a whole of government approach
- Importance of donor agencies and international organizations to support the implementation
- Create more opportunities for participants from different countries to share their experiences – mix up the tables!
- Carry out introductory sessions to break down silos.
- Customs: can sometimes act as a break to initiatives from other ministries and agencies, but with better understanding, this could better inform the decisions taken at the border – an introductory course for border agents on agreements and commitments that apply would be valuable.
- National coordination is vital, but the International Organizations could also coordinate their work better – this doesn’t stop at joint meetings and workshops, but also coordinating and aligning work and standards.
- Training or a manual for traders such as on transit and other relevant agreements and provisions would be very important
- Risk management on “3 sisters” issues is similar, but on customs can be quite different. Sharing information and training on this can be very important, also for timing issues
- VPoA is very relevant especially on transit issues.
- Regional cooperation is important as well as harmonization at the national level
- Over 90% of participants felt that their needs were either met or exceeded