MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND BUDGET
MINISTRY DELEGATE IN CHARGE OF BUDGET
REPUBLIC OF CONGO
CLOSING SPEECH OF THE MINISTER DELEGATE IN CHARGE OF BUDGET
26th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central African Region of the World Customs Organization
Mr Secretary General of the World Customs Organization;
Ladies and Gentlemen, Directors General of Customs and Heads of Delegation
Representatives of the African Union Commission
Representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
Representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
The Representative of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area
The Directors of Regional Structures
Mr Representative of the Regional Coordinator
Ladies and Gentlemen, Experts of the Customs Administrations of West and Central Africa;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a pleasure for me to deliver this speech on the occasion of the closing of the 26th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central African Region of the World Customs Organization.
Allow me first of all to express, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Congo, and on my own behalf, my sincere thanks for your active participation in these proceedings, which lasted two days.
This conference was held following the recommendations of the virtual meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of Directors-General of Customs, with the main objective of measuring their relevance and the need for their implementation.
As you know, the international environment is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis that has claimed many victims around the world. This crisis will undoubtedly undermine the development progress made by African countries over the past two decades.
According to the IMF's global outlook, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced an unprecedented contraction with a growth rate of -2.6%, due to the fall in raw materials and the containment measures put in place by governments to contain the pandemic.
International trade has suffered considerably from these measures, with a volume contraction of 5.3% in 2020, according to the World Trade Organization.
This has put a strain on customs administrations, exposing their weaknesses, while governments increasingly need budgetary resources to fund health spending to combat the pandemic. However, the outlook is brightening as restrictions are relaxed due to the acceleration of vaccination campaigns.
This shock has exposed the limitations of our macroeconomic fundamentals. This requires structural reforms and the strengthening of the capacities of our administrations. This is therefore an opportunity for us to salute the willingness and commitment of the World Customs Organization to support us in facing these vital challenges for the development of our countries.
Furthermore, the issues related to regional integration, discussed during these meetings, in this case the establishment of the intercontinental free trade area, are of fundamental importance for the emergence of our countries. According to the World Bank, the establishment of this zone should enable African countries to lift nearly 30 million people out of extreme poverty and increase the income of 68 million other people who live on less than 5.5 dollars a day. Also, the creation of this single continental market will be a leap forward for our states, and will make Africa a leader in promoting global trade.
I am confident that we will have, at the appropriate time, enough tools and will be better equipped for its operationalization.
I dare to believe that the objectives assigned to this conference have been achieved, and that the commitments made for the implementation of the measures adopted will be respected by all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to conclude my speech by reiterating my sincere thanks to all of you for your active participation, and urge the administrations of the West and Central Africa region of the WCO to continue to strengthen cooperation with all development partners and donors with a view to mobilizing funding for regional activities.
I hereby declare closed the proceedings of the 26th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central African Region of the World Customs Organization.
Thank you for your kind attention.