At the invitation of the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), WCO Deputy Secretary General Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa attended its 21st Annual Conference, held in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), from 13 to 16 May 2019.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Mr. Ralph Torres, Governor of CNMI. The event was attended by representatives from Oceania´s Customs authorities and various stakeholders of the Pacific Islands, including international organizations, security authorities and local governmental representatives.
In his keynote address, Deputy Secretary General Treviño Chapa referred to the WCO continuously developing international standards, fostering cooperation and delivering capacity building. He invited the representatives of the different Island States that have not yet become Members of the WCO to do so, and benefit from the tools and instruments that the Organization can provide. Additionally, Mr. Treviño Chapa highlighted the work that is being achieved at the WCO regarding Small Island Economies (SIEs), mentioning new guidelines that focus mainly on identifying SIEs’ unique strengths, challenges and specificities, and providing tailor-made capacity building support to enhance trade competitiveness, improve border procedures and increase connectivity with the global economy. Technical assistance can also be provided to SIEs with a view to the implementation of various WCO conventions and standards, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), the Harmonized System (HS) Convention and the SAFE Framework of Standards, as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The Deputy Secretary General also participated in a panel discussion on trade facilitation during which he spoke about the different WCO tools and instruments, such as:
- the RKC, which is undergoing a comprehensive review process and will soon be updated,
- the Harmonized System (HS), around which discussions have been opened to decide whether it is feasible and timely to initiate a complete review and modernization of this tool,
- the Framework of Standards on E-Commerce, which will be discussed during the next Council sessions, and
- the SAFE Framework of Standards, that covers some of the best practices in coordinated border management and the use of advance information procedures, as well as the Single Window and the WCO´s Data Model solution.
During the event, an official ceremony was organized in which the Deputy Secretary General received letters of accession to the RKC from the Cook Islands and Tuvalu. With these two new accessions the RKC has now reached 118 Contracting Parties, maintaining its place as the flagship instrument on Customs procedures.