24th WCO Asia/Pacific Heads of Customs Administrations Conference

02 June 2023

At the invitation of Mr. Michael Outram, Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner and Comptroller-General of Customs and WCO Asia/Pacific Vice-Chair, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya participated in the 24th WCO Asia/Pacific Heads of Customs Administrations Conference, held in Perth, Australia from 29 to 31 May 2023.  The Conference brought together Heads of Customs of the region as well as the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB), and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO).

The Vice-Chair of Asia/Pacific region warmly welcomed participants and acknowledged the newest WCO Member in the region, the Solomon Islands. While outlining the main priorities for Customs within the Asia/Pacific region, Mr. Outram noted the relevance of the WCO’s theme of the year “Nurturing the next generation by promoting a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs”. The Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Hon Claire O’Neil MP, delivered an online keynote address highlighting the importance of borders, and Customs’ critical role in achieving growth, security, unity and prosperity in Asia/Pacific.

In his opening remarks and report, Secretary General Mikuriya detailed the progress to date in implementing the Organization’s Strategic Plan 2022/2025 with particular emphasis on the three focus areas, namely Technology and Innovation, Green Customs and Modernization of the WCO.

A/P Heads of Customs Administrations listened to the update on the Regional Strategic Plan, as well as activity reports by the Vice-Chair, the ROCB and RILO A/P, and the A/P Regional Private Sector Consultative Group. The Conference endorsed several decisions of key importance to the Region, such as the establishment of WCO-accredited Regional Dog Training Centers in Australia, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia.

In the margins of the Conference, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya and Mr. Kenji Suwazono, Director General of Japan Customs, signed a Memorandum of Co-operation to relocate of the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for the Asia/ Pacific (RILO A/P) from Seoul, the Republic of Korea, to Tokyo, Japan with effect from 1 January 2024. Secretary General Mikuriya expressed his deep appreciation to Korea Customs for hosting RILO A/P for a commendable period of 12 years and playing a critical role in providing intelligence-related solutions and successfully conducting operations.

Dr. Kunio Mikuriya was also awarded the Royal Order of Sahametrei, Knight Class Medal, of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the highest honour the country bestows upon foreigners, for his outstanding contribution to Customs and trade.