Official Launch of the Master Trainer Programme in Pacific Islands

15 September 2021

Under the auspices of the WCO/JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Joint Project, the WCO organized a high-level official launching ceremony of the Pacific Islands Master trainer Programme on HS Classification and Customs Valuation. The High-level official ceremony took place virtually on 6 September 2021 with the participation of six Customs administrations in the Pacific, namely Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu, as well as the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO) Secretariat. With a view to stepping up its support to Small Island Economies (SIEs), the WCO agreed with JICA, internationally active donors, to seek a possibility to support Customs modernization in the Pacific Islands (PIs) through the “Master Trainer Program (MTP)”, the flagship program of the WCO/JICA Joint Project that recently started its phase 2 of the project for a 4-year project.

The MTP aims at developing sustainable training capacity in the Pacific by 1) developing a pool of well-experienced trainers and (2) developing regionally featured training materials and programs to be used by these trainers.  Upon completion of the MTP, successful alumni are expected to become a regional asset and contribute to the sustainable economic development of the Pacific Islands through Customs modernization.  

The launching ceremony was attended by the WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Ricardo Trevino, Senior Vice-President of JICA Mr. Toshiyuki Nakamura, Director General of Japan Customs Mr. Wataru Sakata and Heads of the 6 Customs Administrations and the OCO secretariat.

In his opening remarks, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya welcomed the participants and empathized on the importance of the MTP for the PIs that came to respond to the WCO Small Island Economies or SIEs initiative to support SIEs efforts for human resource development. Dr. Mikuriya pointed as well that the creation of a pool of Customs experts through the MTP in the Pacific region will enhance the human network in the region which will facilitate regional cooperation in sharing information and best practices. He also stated that the MTP achieved remarkable success in Africa, the MTP-credited experts already trained more than 20,000 Customs officers and business people in Africa over the recent three years. Dr. Mikuriya highlighted also that the MTP encompasses the 4 Ts, namely Tool, Training, Technology, and Trust that are fundamental to WCO activities.

Mr. Toshiyuki Nakamura Senior Vice-President of JICA welcomed the new cooperation between WCO and JICA as a sign of continuous mutual collaboration. He mentioned that WCO and JICA have deepened their partnership to provide expertise and experiences to developing countries in the field of trade facilitation and Customs development. Based on this partnership and since 2016, the WCO- JICA capacity-building project continued to strengthen trade facilitation in Africa, as well as the MTP for 16 African WCO Members. With the continuous dedication of WCO, JICA, and Japan Customs, this program is now widely recognized in Africa, and around the world, as a great collaborative model for how Africa can build a pool of high-quality experts in African Customs administrations. He explained that now with this program will not only benefit the 6 target countries but all of the Pacific Island nations, by providing an expert pool in Customs administration in the region. He then asked the support from the 6 WCO Members to ensure the smooth implementation of the MTP particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan Customs Director-General Mr. Wataru Sakata in his opening remarks confirmed Japan Customs’ support to the MTP in the PIs to contribute to the human resource development for Customs administrations and revenue collection as it is considered an important source of income in most of the region, and thus, Customs focuses on revenue collection. This point was mentioned in Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting, or PALM (declaration of 9th summit). He pointed that this programme meets the needs of the region, as one of the objectives of the programme is to train instructors as Master Trainers of Customs Valuation and Harmonized System or HS Classification. He also stressed that this programme contributes to the further facilitation of the trade, through streamlining of Customs procedures by enhancing the capacity of Customs officers in charge of Customs Valuation and HS Classification.

The opening remarks were followed by words of senior representatives of the 6 beneficiary Pacific Islands well as the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO) Secretariat. They all confirmed that the MTP is very timely for the region and totally meets the needs and challenges. In addition, they all confirmed their participation and commitment to the MTP activities.

At the closing remarks, Mr. Ricardo Trevino stressed once again on the keys to the success of the Master Trainer Programme are 1) strong and continued commitments of participating Customs administrations to the Master Trainer Programme and 2) tailor-made deliverables such as training course and materials which meet the needs of PIs and thanked all efforts. He also reiterated WCO’s deep appreciation to the JICA and the Japan Customs for their active collaboration.

At the end, both the WCO and JICA welcomed the active sharing of views and ideas during the launching ceremony and agreed to continue their collaborative work through the MTP to ensure more sustainable capacity development.

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