On 28 June 2022, at the invitation of the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in charge of the Coordination of the Fight against Fraud, Mr. Van Peteghem, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, took part in the graduation ceremony of the 50th session of the Belgian Customs School. The ceremony marked the end of 10 months of theoretical and practical training in core Customs matters provided by the Belgian Customs School and complemented by the WCO.
Despite the prevailing global health crisis, the training followed its traditional schedule with sessions held both remotely and on-site, in Brussels. It saw the participation of 24 Customs officials from some Eight French-speaking African countries, namely the Central African Republic, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, the Republic of Guinea and Niger. The laureates benefitted from a rich programme throughout the year, with 16 participants having the opportunity to attend a Train-the-trainers workshop, delivered by the prestigious “Académie des Finances”.
In his keynote address, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Van Peteghem traced the institution’s rich history and expressed his pride in this example of successful synergy between institutions. He reminded the graduates that “borders were not barriers” but rather opportunities, and invited these Customs officials to contribute to building highly efficient Customs administrations.
Speaking on the heels of the 70th Anniversary of the World Customs Organization, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya seized the opportunity to remind the graduates and the public at large of some major current issues in Customs modernization, such as fragile borders, green Customs and data management, which depend on highly qualified and motivated staff. While congratulating the laureates on their brilliant achievement, he also praised the commitment of Belgian Customs and the choice of the Government to support capacity building of WCO Members.
Many speakers recognized the critical role played by Customs cooperation and capacity building in the Customs modernization process as key tools for ensuring that Customs is fully equipped to fulfill its mandates.
A representative of the graduates expressed gratitude to the trainers from Belgian Customs and the WCO, for the quality of the training, with a special mention for the Masterclass on the Harmonized System and the session on Gender Equality and Diversity, but also to the Belgian government for its continuous support.
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