Capacity building cooperation by the Asia/Pacific region marks a decade

10 noviembre 2014

At the invitation of the Thai Customs Department’s Director General, Dr. Somchai Sujjapongse, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Bangkok, Thailand for the 10th anniversary ceremony of the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) for Asia/Pacific, held on 7 November 2014.

The ROCB Asia/Pacific, the world’s first ROCB, was officially established in September 2004 in Bangkok following a decision by the region at the Heads of Customs Administrations Meeting in April 2004. That decision was subsequently endorsed by the WCO Council during its June 2004 sessions. 

Marking this historic moment of its 10th anniversary, the ceremony was attended by representatives from the Thai Customs Department, in its capacity as host administration of the ROCB Asia/Pacific, Mr. Dato’ Khazali Ahmad, Director General of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and Vice-Chair for the Asia/Pacific region, heads of Regional Training Centres (RTCs), development partners and other distinguished guests including the first two people to have held the post of Head of the ROCB Asia/Pacific, Mr. Takashi Matsumoto and Mr. Yoshihiro Kosaka respectively, and who laid the foundations for the ROCB’s activities.

In his speech, Secretary General Mikuriya congratulated the region on reaching this impressive milestone, referring to the “raison d’être” of the ROCB and its impact on Customs reform and modernization in the Asia/Pacific region. The ROCB is playing a pivotal role in identifying capacity building needs and solutions for Members in cooperation with the RTCs, development partners and relevant organizations. The WCO Secretary General concluded by encouraging the ROCB to pave the way for further WCO capacity building success stories and regionalization strategies over the coming decade and beyond.

Secretary General Mikuriya also took this opportunity to meet with the Finance Minister of Thailand, Mr. Sommai Phasee, to discuss the reform of Thai Customs and the latter’s promotion of WCO tools. The Secretary General expressed his gratitude for the support lent by the Thai Government to the ROCB’s activities and applauded the recent approval by the Thai Parliament of Customs law amendments that would enable Thailand to accede to the Revised Kyoto Convention. He also commended the recent draft Customs law that incorporates an extensive reform to enhance transparency and predictability of Customs procedures and strengthen the professionalism of Customs officers. The Finance Minister pledged his support for a broad reform of Thai Customs to create a business-friendly environment and offered further assistance to the WCO and the ROCB by providing the necessary human resources and sharing best practices. 

The ROCB Asia/Pacific 10th anniversary ceremony was preceded by the 12th Heads of Asia/Pacific WCO RTCs Meeting on 6 and 7 November 2014 in Bangkok, where heads of the region’s seven RTCs exchanged views on how to enhance Customs capacities through strengthened professionalism and human resource networks so as to ultimately contribute to Customs modernization efforts in the region. The two days of discussions produced recommendations and actions in the areas of training techniques and Customs professionalism, clear linkages between RTCs and experts in the region and other key areas of WCO capacity building initiatives.