WCO Asia/Pacific Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference in Fiji

18 May 2018

At the invitation of Mr. Visvanath Das, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 19th Asia/Pacific Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference held in Nadi, Fiji from 15 to 17 May 2018.

CEO Das extended a warm welcome to delegates from 24 Members of the Region, and to Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) representatives.  He stressed the need for robust discussions and the definition of a regional position on critical issues for presentation to the wider WCO Membership.  He expressed his appreciation for the positive contributions from Members over the two years during which Fiji had held the post of Vice-Chair for the Region.

Secretary General Mikuriya congratulated CEO Das on Fiji’s excellent and effective management as Vice-Chair and on the Region’s achievements during that time.  Dr. Mikuriya then updated Members on developments in the six priority areas as identified by the WCO Council.

As regards e-commerce, a draft high-level Framework of Standards will be presented to the Council in June.  The latter will be invited to extend the mandate of the Working Group on E-Commerce in order to draw up the technical specifications.

The WCO Secretariat will be invited to attend meetings of the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee, and will be involved in the process of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) implementation.  The WCO will, in the coming year, focus on how island economies can engage in and facilitate international trade.

The Secretary General also referred to the many security initiatives underway, including reporting on the WCO’s work to Members of the United Nations Security Council.

The outcomes of research into illicit financial flows (IFFs) will be presented to a special conference on 23 May 2018, with a view to reporting back to the G20 later in the year.

Work continues to overcome the remaining objections to the signing of a WCO-IMF Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  The MoU would strengthen the WCO’s role in the development of IMF policies pertaining to Customs’ competence.

Finally, as regards performance measurement, Secretary General Mikuriya reported on recent contact with the World Bank during which concerns were raised about the methodology of the “Doing Business” Report.

Secretary General Mikuriya referred to a possible seventh priority, namely a review of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) should the Council endorse a recommendation by the RKC Management Committee to that end.  A longer-term objective could also entail revision of the Harmonized System.

Turning to the recent discussions on accessions to the WCO, Dr. Mikuriya also expressed the view that it is essential for the Council to concentrate on core Customs issues.  It is therefore hoped that the Council will set up a working group focusing on accessions.

The Conference listened to a summary of the results of the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan, and a presentation on the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan. The meeting also heard and discussed reports from the Vice-Chair, ROCB and RILO on the Terms of Reference for Regional Customs Laboratories, use of additional languages in the WCO, cruise ships and border security, and implementation of a passenger assessment unit.

Secretary General Mikuriya joined with delegates to thank CEO Das and the Fiji authorities for the warm welcome extended to participants. 

The Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference was preceded by a Private Sector Engagement Conference held on 14 May.  The main theme of this Conference, attended by over 200 delegates from approximately 30 countries representing Customs and the private sector, was ‘Border Management Solutions- the Way Forward’.  Issues addressed included the future-proofing of business and the workforce, managing risks, and balancing trade facilitation and risks.  This Conference was opened by the CEO of FRCA, Mr. Visvanath Das, and was addressed by WCO Secretary General Mikuriya.