BRUSSELS : On 18 and 19 May, at the invitation of the Director General of Customs and Excise of Indonesia, Mr. Askolani, in his capacity as the Vice-Chair of the WCO Asia Pacific (A/P) region, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated in the 23rd Regional Heads of Customs Administrations (RHCA) Conference held in Bali, Indonesia.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Askolani welcomed the delegates and underlined that the role played by Customs Administrations became even more significant during the COVID-19 pandemic in mitigating the crisis and adequately responding to emerging trends, such as the increase of international trade via E-Commerce. In this context, he appreciated WCO’s efforts in developing effective tools and materials to help its Members.
In his opening speech, Dr. Mikuriya thanked Indonesia for its leadership and for hosting the meeting, and introduced the three main focus areas of the WCO, namely, data strategy, Green Customs, and Governance, as well as the recently highlighted role of Customs at fragile borders. He invited Member administrations of the region to the Council sessions from 23 to 25 June 2022 and to the Green Customs Global Conference scheduled on 27 and 28 June 2022.
In her keynote speech, the Minister of Finance of Indonesia, H.E. Sri Mulyani, talked about the modernization of Customs through measures such as digital transformation, human resource development to manage technology, and Customs cooperation.
After reviewing the regional activities which took place over the last year, the Conference endorsed the Regional Strategic Plan 2022-2024, the choice of Japan as the next host of the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for the A/P region from 2024 onwards, and Australia as the next Vice-Chair. The participants also shared their experience in Coordinated Border Management, use of operations to analyze trends, data strategy and leadership Networking Trade Platform as a model for digital information connectivity, and Smart Strategy. Members had a good opportunity to exchange their views based on the presentations.
During the Conference, a signing ceremony was held between the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Mikuriya, and the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), Mr. Alireza Moghadasi, to formalize the establishment of a Regional Training Centre (RTC) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the 9th RTC in the region. The Conference noted that the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) A/P had been supporting networking and experience sharing of regional entities by periodically organizing RTC meetings, and had recently hosted the first Regional Customs Laboratory meeting.