Organized by the WTO in partnership with the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the programme of the workshop was designed according to participants' priorities and was met with their enthusiastic participation. It drew participation from members of National Trade Facilitation Committees in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
Despite being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting drew participants' active participation. They continued the discussions initiated at the first meeting, which was held in November 2019 at ALADI's headquarters in Uruguay.
Participants benefitted from a programme which included presentations from experts from the WTO; ALADI; the WCO; UNCTAD; the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); International Organization for Standardization (ISO); the International Road Transport Union (IRU); DHL; Global Express Association, the Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal (UPAEP), the Postal Service and the National Confederation of Industries of Brazil, Cargodec, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.
They also heard about the experiences of representatives from Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. Participants likewise discussed the role of the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and national committees during the COVID-19 pandemic, best practices and new technologies for evaluating progress in TFA implementation, and best practices for national border agency cooperation.
Ambassador George Ney de Souza Fernandes of Brazil, ALADI Undersecretary for Free Trade Area Development, said at the opening of the meeting: “As we begin 2022 with the hope that the worst moments of the pandemic are behind us, we can return to the relevance of the excellent results of our workshop in 2019. It was with this in mind, that a second meeting, with similar characteristics to the first, albeit in a different format and above all a very different context, seemed indispensable to us.”
“Undoubtedly, progress towards the objectives set out in the TFA, in terms of simplification, harmonization and modernization of customs procedures, reduction of obstacles, and improvement of physical infrastructure and information and communications technology, will contribute to reducing costs, increasing competitiveness, diversifying exports, and attracting foreign investment, among many other advantages that will be achieved for the benefit of our region.”