Customs in the Pacific strengthen cooperation at the OCO Conference

12 June 2018

At the invitation of the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 20th OCO Annual Conference, held in Melbourne, Australia on 11 June 2018.  The OCO comprises 23 Customs administrations from the Pacific region, eight of which are WCO Members. 

After the opening address by the ABF Commissioner, Mr. Michael Outram, Secretary General Mikuriya spoke about the WCO’s current priorities and their implications for small island economies in his opening speech.  He stressed the importance of connecting the dots in the maritime environment by applying WCO instruments, before describing several measures of specific relevance to small island economies.  

A number of ceremonies then took place.

Firstly, OCO Members signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Customs Cooperation as a basis for sharing information and best practices. 

Secondly, Kiribati’s Minister of Justice, The Honourable Natan Teewe, presented Dr. Mikuriya with his country’s instrument of accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention. 

Thirdly, the Pacific Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (PACHS) 2017 was launched, introducing 7- and 8-digit regional subheadings in addition to the 6-digit subheadings in the 2017 version of the Harmonized System (HS) in order to facilitate the collection of trade data as well as Customs controls.  The WCO welcomed the development of PACHS 2017, which was consistent with the HS 2017.

The Conference subsequently addressed the following topics: Enhancing the role of Customs in regional integration and trade facilitation; Strengthening cooperation and information exchange on law enforcement matters; Development of technical and professional capabilities of Customs in the Pacific; and Strategies for the reform of Customs administrations. 

In the course of the deliberations, speakers referred to the points raised by Secretary General Mikuriya and highlighted the importance of following the international standards and related good practices developed by the WCO.

All the participants expressed their appreciation for the excellent organization of this event and warm hospitality extended by ABF, including a visit to the Container Examination Facility (maritime), Melbourne Gateway Facility (airport) and National Detector Dog Program.