By Peter Ssebulime
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is to host the 4th World Customs Organisation (WCO) Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) conference, the first of its kind regionally and in Africa.
Addressing the press at Uganda revenue authority headquarters in Nakawa Kampala, Patrick Mukiibi, acting Commissioner general Uganda revenue authority said, the conference will run under the theme “promoting mutual recognition of AEOs to strengthen and secure global trade” adding that is aimed at customs administrations, the business community, government, multilateral policy makers, legal, academic representatives, focuses on the success and challenges of customs and the private sector in implementing AEO programmes.
AEO is a trade facilitation program, which URA uses to ease trade. Under it, businesses which comply with customs laws and regulations receive preferential treatment e.g. fast clearance of their goods through simplified procedures and reduced inspection.
The summit will run from March 14-16 2018 at the Kampala Conference Centre.
It will be organized in conjunction with WCO and supported by Korea Customs Service and Huawei, a corporate sponsor.
Over 800 delegates from 169 countries are expected to attend the meeting, which will discuss trade facilitation initiatives like AEO.
Patrick Mukiibi boasted “choosing Uganda to host was hinged onto the customs and trade facilitation achievements”.
URA Commissioner Customs, Dicksons Kateshumbwa said it is an opportunity to “hear and learn about the successes and challenges of customs administrations”.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to address the delegates at the opening ceremony.
Other high profile participants expected are the Prime Minister, WCO Secretary General and 17 heads of customs administrations.
Currently, the AEO programme is being implemented by most of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) member countries.
There are 77 AEO programmes worldwide. Regionally, all the five East African Community countries (Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania) are implementing AEO at national level and regional level.
The national programs formed the East African Community AEO regional programme totaling to 46 accredited companies enjoying recognition and benefits across the East African region.
Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Steven Asiimwe said the meeting would be an opportunity to promote Uganda’s unique flora, fauna and landscape.
Past WCO/AEO conferences were held in 2012 and 2014 in Seoul, South Korea and Madrid, Spain respectively and Cancun, Mexico where the 3rd conference was held in 2016