Tongan Revenue and Customs joins the WCO Mercator Programme

12 October 2018

WCO’s Capacity Building Programme achieved another milestone after successful engagement with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) scoping mission to the Kingdom of Tonga as the newest beneficiary of the tailor-made track of the Mercator Programme.  The Mercator Programme is designed to support WCO members to successfully implement the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation through the effective application of WCO instruments and tools. The scoping exercise, which took place from 5 to 12 September 2018, was funded by the Government of the United Kingdom through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) under the framework of the extended HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Programme.

Recognizing the need to adopt a holistic perspective towards reform and modernization the scoping exercise included extensive consultations with respective divisions in the Tongan Ministry of Revenue & Customs, and other Public and Private stakeholders.  The mission acknowledged the ongoing modernization efforts and progress made by the Tongan Revenue & Customs, in particular the coordinated approach with Border Agencies and the existing compliance framework by the Chamber of Commerce.

As a result of the discussions, the mission team identified areas where the WCO could complement current initiatives using the WCO expertise, combined with the WCO instruments and tools. As the mission primarily focused on Category C notifications, several areas where immediate work and assistance could be provided were identified, including the measurement of efficiency and effectiveness of the trade in border processes. The mission resulted in a comprehensive assessment of the trade facilitation developments in Tonga, along with identification of current needs and challenges related to capacity building and technical assistance. These areas will be consolidated into a multi-year Mercator Implementation plan with the tailor-made track approach.  The WCO looks forward to implementing a collaborative multi-year capacity building engagement with the Tonga Revenue and Customs through the WCO Mercator programme.