On 13 May 2019, on the occasion of the 21st Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Annual Conference held in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the representatives of the Cook Islands and Tuvalu deposited with Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa (WCO Deputy Secretary General) their respective country’s instrument of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention – RKC). Speaking on behalf of the depositary of the Convention, Mr. Treviño Chapa took the opportunity to congratulate the Cook Islands and Tuvalu on this achievement, set against the backdrop of the WCO’s special focus on Small Island Economies (SIEs).
The Cook Islands and Tuvalu therefore join Kiribati as part of the very select club of non-WCO Members having acceded to the Convention. According to Article 8.1 of the RKC, any Member of the WCO and any Member of the United Nations or its specialized agencies may become a Contracting Party to the Convention by acceding to it.
It is worth recalling that, in June 2017, the WCO organized a successful Workshop on the RKC for Vanuatu Customs and, thanks to financial support from the OCO Secretariat, participation in this Workshop was extended to six non-WCO Members (Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu). One of the important outcomes of the Workshop was the development of clear action plans by each of the above-listed Pacific Islands for accession to the RKC. The accession of the Cook Islands and Tuvalu is to be welcomed as this will help increase their international visibility.
The Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), which entered into force on 3 February 2006, is a WCO legal instrument recognized as the blueprint for modern and effective Customs procedures in the 21st Century. It was also widely used in the negotiations on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). Accession to the RKC and, above all, its implementation, complements countries’ efforts towards ratification and implementation of the WTO TFA.
The Convention’s key elements include the application of simplified Customs procedures in a predictable and transparent environment, optimal use of information technology, utilization of risk management for efficient Customs control, a strong partnership with trade and other stakeholders, and a readily accessible system of appeals.
In an international environment marked by a determination to implement the WTO TFA in an expeditious and harmonized manner, the WCO welcomes the fact that the number of Contracting Parties to the RKC continues to grow, especially as this instrument is at the core of the WCO’s Economic Competitiveness Package (ECP). WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya strongly encourages WCO Members and United Nations Members not yet having done so to follow the example of the Cook Islands and Tuvalu and accede to the RKC (and, in particular, implement its provisions) as soon as possible, given this instrument’s significance for Customs and the international trade community.