WCO supports Tonga to strengthen its Time Release Study (TRS) capacities

27 March 2019

Following the Mercator Implementation Plan for the Kingdom of Tonga, the WCO jointly organized together with the World Bank, a 5-day training workshop in Tongatapu from the 11th to 15th of March 2019 to strengthen trade stakeholder’s capacities in the Time Release Study (TRS). The workshop was delivered under the framework of the WCO-HMRC-UNCTAD Programme, funded by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) via Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom. In his opening remarks, CEO Ministry of Revenue and Customs Mr. Kelemete Vahe, highlighted the importance of the TRS tool in evaluating the effectiveness of clearance procedures and in designing and monitoring the implementation of the trade facilitation measures with an aim of helping Tonga achieve the long-term socio-economic growth goals.

The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the internal capacity of all stakeholders concerned with import-export from all government agencies, private sector, and logistics operators in Tonga to strengthen their capacities to conduct a TRS and prepare a strategically targeted TRS communications product to build consensus for coordinated border management reforms. A wide range of stakeholders including senior officers from different functional areas of Customs from Nukuálofa port; representatives of chambers of commerce, importers, Customs brokers, shipping and airlines agents, freight forwarders, private bonded warehouse operators, quarantine, Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry of Commerce officials participated in the workshop.

The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to enhance their knowledge in WCO instruments, tools and best practices related to the TRS, to assist cross-border regulatory agencies and other trade partners in developing effective operational procedures in the clearance process of imports and exports of goods. The participants were also able to increase their knowledge of the techniques of Business Process Mapping and Analysis through a practical walkthrough of the whole clearance operations at the Nukuálofa port other approved locations. The trade stakeholders also validated the Business Process Map and the TRS questionnaire against actual practices and also tested its efficacy for actual data collection for a TRS in Tonga. The next step in the TRS process will be to collect the data.