The 21st Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) annual conference commenced on 13th May, 2019 in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), hosted by the CNMI Customs division with the theme “A united Pacific working towards a common solution”.

The conference was opened with statements from the CNMI Director of Customs, Mr Jose Mafnas, Governor of CNMI, Honorable Ralph Torres, Attorney General of CNMI, Mr Edward Manibusan, Secretary of Finance, Mr David Atalig, Deputy Secretary General of World Customs Organisation (WCO), Mr Ricardo Trevino and Interim Head of Secretariat for OCO, Mr Roy Lagolago.

The Conference brought together over 90 delegates from 21 member customs administration and key partners including the WCO, ROCB Asia Pacific, Korea Customs, IMF Pacific Financial and Technical Assistance Center (PFTAC), Pacific Immigration Development Community (PIDC), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (PTCCC), Pacific Islands Chief of Police (PICP), Pacific Community (SPC), United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations International Narcotics Control Board, United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United States Patent Office, World Bank group, World Health Organisation, United States Coast Guard, United States Secret Service and JIATF West and CNMI agencies and private sector stakeholders.

The OCO members on the opening day witnessed three milestone achievements which was the accession of two non-WCO members, Tuvalu and Cook Islands to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention) and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UNCTAD and the OCO.

The Hon. Tingika Elikana, Associate Minister of Finance and Mr, Tuilagi Teii, Director of Tuvalu Customs deposited Cook Island and Tuvalu’s instrument of accession to Revised Kyoto Convention with Mr Ricardo Trevino, Deputy Secretary General for WCO. The accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention demonstrates the OCO members’ commitment to implement international customs procedures.

The MOU with UNCTAD provides a framework of cooperation between the parties, and to facilitate and strengthen collaborations between the two Organizations. The UNCTAD Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) is used by 6 OCO member countries.

The Conference delegates over the next three days will discuss a broad range of topics including Trade Facilitation, Revenue Mobilisation, Border Security and Digital Capacity.

The OCO wishes to formally thank the Conference host, CNMI Customs for the event’s planning and for the excellent organisation and their impressive hospitality.

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