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Workshop on WCO Small Island Economies (SIE) Initiative held in Suva, Fiji

25 septiembre 2019

The World Customs Organization (WCO) in collaboration with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS), the WCO Asia-Pacific Regional Office for Capacity Building (A/P ROCB), and Oceana Customs Organization (OCO) organized a workshop on the challenges and opportunities faced by Customs administrations in Small Island Economies (SIEs) in the Asia-Pacific region, from 10-14 September 2019 in Suva, Fiji. The Workshop was financed by the WCO Reserve Fund, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the OCO Secretariat.  The generous support of these organizations brought together seventeen (17) Customs Administrations from the region including some non-WCO Members.  The Customs Administrations participating in the Workshop were: Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Maldives, Niue, Palau, Papa New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Solomon Islands, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Small Island Economies initiative is a new initiative launched by the WCO in 2018 to bring more attention and provide dedicated support to Customs administrations in SIEs. These SIEs, most of which are developing states, face specific social, economic, trade and environmental vulnerabilities and disadvantages associated with small size, remoteness and proneness to natural disasters. The broad aim of this new initiative is to find ways to address these issues and suggest potential measures to assist SIEs in the integration of the global supply, while strengthening their capacities for effective risk management, trade facilitation, security and revenue collection.
The Fiji Director of Corporate Services gave the Opening Remarks of the Workshop, on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of the FRCS, Mr. Visvanath Das.  In her remarks, she noted some of the challenges of SIEs including, but not limited to, border management and the illicit transit of goods. She then acknowledged the timeliness of the WCO initiative.  She concluded by encouraging the participants to actively engage in continuous dialogue over the course of the workshop and share experiences and national best practices.  Throughout the rest of the week, the WCO experts provided detailed information along with practical explanations on the challenges and opportunities of Customs administrations in SIEs, including information on the accession to and implementation of the WCO instruments and tools, as well as information on the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) and associated benefits. Facilitated by the experts, the delegates participated in break-out sessions that assessed the current situation, challenges, opportunities and solutions in the areas of trade facilitation, safety and security, risk management and revenue collection.

The Workshop provided the participants with an opportunity to develop a sound grasp of the issues affecting Customs administrations in SIEs, the implementation of WCO tools and instruments to effectively address them, the importance of ensuring the alignment of their national/regional legislation, and how to accede to the Convention establishing the Customs Cooperation Council (WCO) for those who are not yet Members of the WCO.   Discussions were also held on the Outline of the Draft Guidance for Customs administrations in SIEs and the recently established Virtual Working Group on SIEs, its objectives, and how to support and participate in both.   The Chief Executive Officer of the FRCS, Mr. Visvanath Das, gave the closing remarks for the Workshop noting that even the smallest accomplishments can have a big impact.