Reaffirmed commitment of the Asia/Pacific Region to furthering WCO initiatives

02 五月 2014

At the invitation of Mr. Michael Pezzullo, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and Vice-Chair of the WCO’s Asia/Pacific Region, Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in the 15th WCO Asia/Pacific Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference held in Port Douglas, Australia, from 29 April to 2 May 2014.

The Conference was chaired by Mr. Pezzullo, who welcomed delegates to Australia for what promised to be a productive meeting covering a wide-ranging agenda.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Mr. Scott Morrison, welcomed delegates and highlighted the importance of Customs in the management of the global supply chain to ensure the security of borders and facilitation of trade. The issues of drug smuggling and people trafficking posed particular challenges. The anticipated growth in the volume of internationally traded goods and tourism would require innovation and flexibility from Customs and other border agencies. The implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation would also challenge Customs, but he recognized the role of the WCO and the availability of WCO instruments to facilitate this process.

Secretary General Mikuriya underscored the key role played by Customs and the WCO collectively, in pursuit of a sound balance between security and facilitation of trade, revenue collection and protection of society. He also stressed the importance of organizational development. As regards the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, he reiterated to Members the critical role to be played by Customs in the National Trade Facilitation Committees and urged Members to become active in this regard.

The Conference endorsed several issues of key importance to the Region, including the Regional Strategic Plan 2014-2016, the Terms of Reference for the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB), the Regional Customs Laboratory initiative, and the WCO regional representatives for the coming financial year. Malaysia was selected as the next Regional Vice-Chair and Mr. Kazunari Igarashi as the new Head of the ROCB for a five-year term.

Delegates discussed a wide range of topics, including Capacity Building activities; enforcement activities; engagement with trade; integrity; governance; the election process for WCO officials; and emerging issues, particularly the challenge of e-commerce. The Conference also heard activity reports from the RILO and the ROCB. The Region further agreed on the necessity of an annual decision-making mechanism, the details of which will be finalized following further reflection on the matter.

Secretary General Mikuriya had a bilateral meeting with the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Mr. Morrison, during which they discussed, inter alia, the importance of global supply chain security and trade facilitation, especially implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation. The Minister assured Mr. Mikuriya of continued strong support for the WCO from Australia.

Participants expressed their appreciation to ACBPS for the excellent organization of the meeting which provided an effective environment for positive interaction between the Members, and also for the warm hospitality extended to delegates.