Capacity Building

22nd October 2019

WCO Mercator Programme

Since its launch in June 2014, the Mercator Programme has become the WCO’s flagship capacity building programme aimed at assisting Member administrations implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in a uniform manner. The Programme promotes harmonized implementation, provides “tailor-made” technical assistance and capacity building, and facilitates effective coordination amongst all interested stakeholders.

From July 2018 to June 2019, over 100 national capacity building, technical assistance, and training activities were delivered. As of June 2019, 46 WCO Members were already benefiting from multi-year (MY) Mercator partnerships under the tailor-made track that focuses on medium to long-term engagement and employs a project-based approach that includes a significant role for WCO-accredited experts, in particular WCO Mercator Programme Advisors (MPAs). The WCO currently has over 70 fully accredited MPAs, many of whom are regularly providing effective TFA implementation support through sustained engagement with beneficiary Members.

The WCO continues to refine the Mercator Programme to ensure it remains fully responsive to WCO Members’ needs and implementation challenges, and that it continues to leverage the Organization’s unique value-add, including its network of accredited experts as well as the WCO instruments and tools relating to effective and efficient TFA implementation.

Human resource development (HRD)

WCO e-learning platform: CLiKC!

A new version of the CLiKC! learning platform dedicated to Customs officers has been launched. It provides users with a comprehensive picture of the WCO’s  training material as well as the training opportunities available to its Members (see article published in the June 2019 edition of WCO News or visit

Twenty-five e-learning courses on various Customs topics are now available via the platform, with four new courses having been added recently related to the Time Release Study (TRS), the control of passengers in an airport environment, small arms and light weapons (SALW), and gender equality. The CLiKC! platform currently has 23,000 registered users.

WCO Academy

The WCO e-learning portal aimed at building the Customs skills and knowledge of trade professionals and academia is now live at The portal currently offers 14 e-learning courses covering key Customs topics and has successfully hosted a number of Webinars (an online conference facility).

Virtual Customs Orientation Academy (VCOA)

The VCOA provides newly recruited Customs officials with a 14-week tutored e-learning opportunity that addresses core Customs competencies, the concepts of clearance procedures and practices, international standards and conventions, and how to apply them effectively in the workplace. During the year under review, 35 more Customs officers successfully completed the WCO’s online VCOA curriculum.

Fellowship and Career Development Programmes

Thirty-four officers participated in the WCO Fellowship Programme, the aim of which is to develop the abilities, skills and knowledge of Customs middle managers, to ensure that they can actively participate in the reform and modernization processes of their home administrations.

Regarding the WCO Career Development Programme, 10 Customs officials participated this year, working as part of the WCO Secretariat for 10 months as Professional Associates where they enhanced their knowledge, skills and international work experience. Participants also benefited from a study field trip to Japan.

Scholarship Programme and Executive Programme in Customs and Business Administration (EPCBA)

Twenty Customs officers participated in the Scholarship Programme, during which they studied at a number of different Japanese universities for a one-year Master’s degree course focused on Customs related issues. With respect to the EPCBA, 10 officers attended courses on international trade and management at the Seoul National University in Korea.

Leadership and Management Development Programme (LMDP)

Four further LMD workshops were conducted during the 2018/2019 period. An additional five were delivered as part of the WCO Fellowship and Career Development Programmes. In addition, six Customs administration benefited from a “Top Executive Retreat,” which is aimed at strengthening the capacity of Directors General and their top executive teams to lead and drive reform and modernization agendas.

Taken together, these activities have provided around 237 executive, senior and promising middle-level Customs managers with a better understanding of modern management approaches and their own personal leadership attitude and behaviour, based on improved self-knowledge and self-awareness.

The LMD Programme prioritizes a dual track approach where technical support goes hand in hand with organizational development, more specifically the development of modern leadership. A new approach to LMD support has recently been developed that aims to install a modern and inspiring management culture throughout the whole of an organization.


Different types of missions were organized during the 2018/2019 period to respond to specific requests from WCO Members:

  • an integrity assessment mission in Bermuda (July 2018);
  • a support mission to Mauritius on “The Role of Leadership in Organizational Integrity” and on “Ethical Leadership” (September 2018);
  • an Integrity self-assessment activity in the Bahamas (November 2018);
  • assistance to countries of the East African Community (EAC) in reviewing their Integrity Action Plan, and evaluating the level of implementation of the EAC Code of Ethics in member countries;
  • integrity diagnostic missions to Jamaica and Kazakhstan (March 2019).

In January 2019, the WCO and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) launched the Anti-Corruption and Integrity Promotion (A-CIP) Programme for 11 WCO Members: Afghanistan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Tunisia. Eight member support missions and one regional workshop were also conducted.

To support WCO Members’ efforts in implementing Principle 6 of the Revised Arusha Declaration on good governance and integrity in Customs, focusing on Audit and Investigation, the WCO gathered the experiences of some administrations into one publication entitled “Compilation of WCO Members’ Integrity Practices on Internal Controls and the Relationship with External Controls.”

Gender equality and diversity

The WCO has continued its work with the Virtual Working Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, established to gather examples of best practices and act as a platform for WCO Members to exchange information amongst one another. The Secretariat also developed a blended learning package advancing gender equality in Customs that includes two tracks, one focused on training managers on gender mainstreaming and another on raising awareness through e-learning.

In addition, a second survey on gender equality and diversity was disseminated, which received a high level of response. The Secretariat also reviewed and updated the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) with the contribution of the Virtual Working Group to better align it to international practices. The WCO also participated in a number of events in the area of gender and trade to present its work, build networks, and share experiences with experts from other international organizations as well as national bodies.

Capacity Building Progress Report

The Report provides further details of the capacity building and technical assistance provided by WCO Secretariat staff and accredited experts during this reporting year. Part I of the Report lists activities undertaken in 2018/2019 per topic and per country, while Part II lists all the missions delivered per region and per country since the launch of the WCO Capacity Building Programme.

More information