Inauguration of the Asia/Pacific Vice-Chair’s Office

29 July 2016

WCO Secretary General Mr. Kunio Mikuriya attended the official launching ceremony of the WCO Asia/Pacific (A/P) Vice-Chair’s Office, held on 28 July 2016 in Suva, Fiji, alongside the Honorable Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fijian Minister of Economy, and Mr. Dato’ Sri Khazali bin Hj Ahmad, Director General of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) and former A/P Regional Vice-Chair. Other guests included members of the Fiji-based diplomatic corps and participants in the WCO Sub-regional Workshop on Integrity. In his opening address, Mr. Visvanath Das, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) and Comptroller of Customs, in his capacity as the new A/P Vice-Chair, expressed his appreciation and said it was an honour for the FRCA to take up this role for the next 2 years, Fiji being the first WCO Member in the Pacific sub-region to be entrusted with this responsibility. He also reaffirmed his determination to continue to foster close communication and coordination among the Member administrations in the A/P Region with a view to addressing the challenges faced by Customs and raising the profile of the Region within the international Customs community.

In his speech, the WCO Secretary General took the opportunity to express his thanks to the RMCD Director General for his accomplishments during Malaysia’s 2-year tenure as A/P Vice-Chair in terms of communication and good coordination among the A/P Member administrations, and expressed his confidence in the successful takeover of this role by the FRCA.

The Secretary General highlighted the imperative need for connectivity among all relevant stakeholders, including between Customs administrations, through the use of pertinent technology. He also touched upon the Sub-regional Workshop on Integrity, stressing that human resource development is key to fighting corruption. Given Fiji’s important role within the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) and its geographical location, he expressed the hope that Fiji’s role as the new A/P Vice-Chair would lead to more OCO Members joining the WCO.

The RMCD Director General welcomed the FRCA to the role of Vice-Chair and offered his support and future collaboration, wishing the Authority all the best in this undertaking.

The Minister of Economy welcomed the WCO Secretary General, the RMCD Director General and all the other guests, and confirmed his political support for the FRCA’s role as A/P Vice-Chair for the next 2 years. The Minister called for the further enhancement of international cooperation and collaboration through the exchange of information and experiences, as well as capacity building support from the WCO Secretariat and the regional WCO Member administrations. The Minister also made reference to the Integrity Workshop, and reiterated the importance of integrity for uplifting the region’s economic growth and securing borders against the threats posed by transnational organized crime and terrorism.

The ceremony concluded with the unfolding of the A/P regional flag, which had been officially handed over by the RMCD to the FRCA at the A/P regional consultation session held in the margins of the recent WCO 127th/128th Council Sessions at WCO Headquarters in Brussels, and the unveiling of the plaque of the A/P Regional Vice-Chair.