Wednesday, December 02, 2020
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Desiderio Consultants Ltd. is a think tank and a network of independent professional international development consultants established to promote and influence customs & trade-related policies in African nations to achieve trade facilitation reforms aimed at improving international and regional trade
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Most common measures adopted by Customs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on trade

Following the spread of the COVID-19, customs administrations worldwide are adopting a series of measures to minimise the overall impact of the outbreak on economies and societies, by facilitating the international movement of goods, in particular of relief goods. The virus emergency is affecting not only imports, but also exports. Agriculture-based countries of Sub-Saharan Africa for instance, are facing a significant drop in the export of agriculture products (ex. horticulture and floriculture items), due to a massive decrease of their demand and prices on foreign markets. Hereunder is a summary of the most common measures adopted by Customs:

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Ethiopia and Somalia make further steps towards WTO accession

The March 2020 WTO accession newsletter describes the current status, among others, of the Ethiopia and Somalia accession processes to the Organisation.

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UNECE launches an Observatory on Border Crossings Status worldwide

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), one of the five United Nations’ Regional Commissions under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council has created a web platform with governmental/official source information (as well as remarks from the International Road Transport Union) on travel restrictions and border shutdowns applied by the different countries in the world following the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Information on measures taken by African Nations are not yet available, but will be added soon.

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The role of Customs against COVID-19: tools used to contain the outbreak

COVID-19 is expected to provoke in the coming weeks a dramatic increase in the movement of relief goods across borders, such as supplies, medicines and medical equipment. The World Customs Organisation (WCO), however, in a recent post published on its website, urges Customs to play their role in minimising the overall impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on economies and societies, by facilitating the international movement not only of relief goods, but of all goods in general.

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Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains

The more international trade expands, the more it becomes structured aro und Global Value Chains (GVCs). GVCs have changed the way firms design, produce and distribute their goods and services, although in recent years manufacturing firms have shortened the supply chains, by reducing the foreign added share in the value of final products. This has been done by shifting towards domestic, rather than international suppliers, so reversing the trend to outsource part of the productive process to foreign countries which started in the 1990's and continued in 2000's, in an attempt to obtain increased cost savings and higher efficiency. This phenomenon will probably be exacerbated by the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus, which will push companies to internalise some production phases that were previously outsourced abroad.

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