The five-day training commenced yesterday 27 February at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
Delivering a speech on the occasion, WCO expert Daniel Gardozo, a resource person at the training, conveyed warm regards from the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.
He also congratulated GRA under the leadership of its Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe for coming up with the capacity building initiative on the Harmonized System Nomenclature, for sponsoring all national participants and for making all arrangements to get the training materialised.
He equally thanked the European Union Cooperation Fund for its generous contributions to sponsoring the course facilitators’ presence in The Gambia.
“The Harmonized System is one of the most successful instruments ever developed by the World Customs Organisation WCO,” he said, adding that it is a multipurpose goods nomenclature used by more than 200 countries, territories and customs or economic unions, as the basis for customs tariff and for the compilation of international trade statistics.
According to him, this is a national seminar on classification of goods. “We will start with a basic training course on commodity classification and the application of the general interpretative rules and in the near future, there are plans for further capacity building initiatives by holding an advanced training course,” Mr Gardozo said. “We expect this course will contribute to strengthening GRA competencies in the area of classification in order to optimize revenue collection and trade facilitation.”
In his remarks on the occasion, GRA’s Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe said that as a state party and implementation agency, the Gambia Government and GRA “are more than willing and committed to ensuring a smooth transition” from HS2022 version.
Such a transition is only possible through capacity building of both Customs Officers and Clearing Agents/Customs Brokers, which is the main reason for the training, he said.
“The General Interpretation Rules (GIR) are the rules that govern the classification of goods under the Harmonized Commodity Description and coding system (HS),” CG Darboe noted, saying the Harmonized System is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded products.
“It is used to identify products when assessing duties, taxes and for gathering statistics,” he added.
The overall goal of the five-day seminar would enable customs officers and clearing agents or customs brokers to understand the General Interpretation Rules in order to classify correctly and determine what duty rates are applicable to import and export of goods.
It would also help them to pinpoint accurate cost analysis on trading with a certain commodity before committing to a shipment, thereby ensuring compliance.
CG Darboe recounted the background of the training, saying: “This training comes at the heels of the recent adoption of the HS 2022 version by the WCO Council which the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) are currently implementing.”
“This issue was at the center of a workshop held in Abidjan organized by the WCO in the framework of the EU-WCO programme for HS in Africa.”
He said the training would expose participants to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which “emphasises the importance of ensuring that the Harmonized System is kept up-to-date” in the light of changes in technology and patterns of international trade.
“It is important to recognize the prominence of the HS in the global trade facilitation agenda which reveals the commitment of the GRA to align with the efforts of the ECOWAS and WCO to ensure that the HS2022 version is fully implemented which would be in the best interest of all stakeholders,” the GRA commissioner general said.
“This by extension will impact greatly on customs administration, regional economic integration in Africa and the AfCFTA implementation.”
Concluding, CG Darboe commended the EU, WCO, ECOWAS, the Gambia Government and other stakeholders in their common efforts to improving their service to clients to enhancing revenue mobilization.