Vanuatu Customs in support of value chains

04 October 2019

At the invitation of Mr. Harold Tarosa, Director, Customs and Inland Revenue, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Vanuatu from 2 to 4 October 2019 to explore the challenges and opportunities for small island economies, and identify, in this regard, the role of the WCO.

In the capital city of Port Vila, Secretary General Mikuriya was received by H.E. Pastor Obed Moses Tallis, President of Vanuatu, who welcomed the Secretary General’s visit and looked forward to further cooperation with the WCO in the future.  Dr. Mikuriya then met with H.E. Mr. Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Prime Minister, and held detailed discussions on the current challenges, including enlarging the revenue basis, as well as the promotion of exports and tourism and how Customs could best contribute.

Dr. Mikuriya visited the Single Window project being developed over the period 2018-2020, based on the Customs IT System.  Vanuatu’s government agencies, including Customs, have steadily been connected to the processing and e-payment system.  The Single Window also incorporates a passenger control system, of major significance in promoting tourism.  After visiting Customs headquarters, Dr. Mikuriya had a meeting with Mr. Martin Mahe, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, who confirmed the recent progress made in human resource development.  They discussed future plans to provide more exposure to Customs officers in support of Customs modernization.

During his visit to Santo Island - the biggest of the more than 80 islands that make up Vanuatu -, Secretary General Mikuriya was received by H.E. Mr. Gaetan Pikioune, Minister of Finance, who introduced him to the economic and export hub of the country.  He had an opportunity to observe the functioning of the value chain strategy through agricultural development for exports, the branding of products in such areas as kava, organic beef, coffee and noni, as well as various tourism resources. He also witnessed the vital contribution made by Customs in improving the business environment. 

At the end of his visit, the Secretary General concluded that island economies, such as Vanuatu have huge potential for economic growth and suggested that a Time Release Study be conducted by Customs as a follow-up in order to identify bottlenecks and gain further economic competitiveness.