Caption: Virtual graduation ceremony with 17 countries linked up.

Suva, Fiji, 14 March 2022: Customs administrations in the Oceania region are better equipped to adapt to the changing landscapes of border security, trade facilitation and revenue collection following the graduation of 49 Customs officers with a Certificate III in Regional Customs Administrations.

The 10-month long virtual course online program of which 60 percent of the participants were women was delivered by the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies (CCES) at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, and the Oceania Customs Organisation. CCES is the world’s leading provider of research, training and education in the highly specialised areas of customs and border management. In partnership with a number of universities, customs colleges and other educational institutions, CCES delivers a range of accredited academic and vocational courses relating to customs administration, border management, excise and revenue management and international trade.

CCES is recognised by the World Customs Organization (WCO) as international leaders in the field of customs education and plays a key role in establishing and maintaining the WCO professional education standards as a foundation member of the WCO Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD).

“Not only was this the largest training of its kind for Customs as we had participants from 17 countries, it was also the first graduation of a certified group of officers who have undertaken OCO CCES training for fundamental Customs functions ever,” OCO Head of Secretariat, Richard Brennan said. “Accredited training in core Customs functions has been a missing link in OCO outputs for a long time and this course enables us to deliver real capacity building that sits at a national level.”

“The courses offered by CCES are benchmarked against world standards in Customs training and officers who complete these courses are recognised as competent, more importantly the qualification is also recognised within the region and globally,” Mr Brennan said.

 “By practicing what they have learnt they will improve their administrations and by guiding others in the workplace with what they have learnt, they become leaders.  This is the capacity building that sits at the heart of our OCO Charter.”

 Customs officers were required to complete eight of eleven modules including the core subjects of risk management, ethics and governance, enforcement and compliance, tariff, valuation and legislation.

CCES Chief Executive Officer, Professor David Widdowson said the course was significant for Customs officers as it provided them with an opportunity to obtain a formal qualification in a specialised Customs course.

Participants of the course were from American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Marshall Islands, Guam, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

 As the course was being held at a time when the Pacific region experienced waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, Customs officers were faced with challenges.

 “Understandably, some dropped out of the course due to challenges such as heavy work commitments as they were front liners at the borders, some had challenges of accessibility to a computer or internet,” OCO Operations Manager, Irma Daphney Stone said.

Solomon Islands Head of Customs Administrations, James Sutton said officers who part of the course often came to work in the weekends to complete their studies due to inaccessibility to computers or the internet.

In Nauru, Head of Customs Dr Jennifer Clarke said she opened her home to her two officers and she also assisted them in understanding and completing the modules of the course. The two officers will now have to share their knowledge and experiences with fellow Customs officers in Nauru.

Many of the students are now considering using their Cert III qualification to continue their studies by enrolling in the Certificate IV in Regional Customs Administration which is due to commence on 21 March.

 For more information, queries or interview requests, please email


About OCO: OCO is a grouping of 23 Customs administrations in the Pacific region. It facilitates regional cooperation, information sharing and capacity building of its members with the overall target of supporting economic growth and improved border security in the Pacific.


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