In collaboration with the Vanuatu Department of Customs and Inland Revenue and United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), the OCO organized an automation study visit for 10 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) (Cooks Islands, Federated State of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu) on 25-26 July, 2019 in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
A number of PACER Plus signatories will be implementing ASYCUDA World (AW) as part of their overall objective to modernize customs practices and contribute to their national economic objectives through effective and efficient collection of revenue, facilitating trade and providing accurate and timely statistics on international trade. Given the size and capacity of PICs customs administrations, the main objective of the Study Visit was to provide an opportunity for the participants to understand and learn from the Vanuatu Customs experience on automation.
UNCTAD provided the participants with an overview of AW and the lessons learnt that participants need to consider prior to their national automation projects. UNCTAD will be the key Agency in the implementation of ASYCUDA World for the PICs.
Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific that has implemented the customs online payment, passenger processing module and undertaking Electronic Single Window Project. The study visit allowed participants to get details of Vanuatu’s experience about customs automation, system development process, IT-related issues, project and change management. The participants also undertook visit to the Customs Wharf Area and Airport to view the system in operation.
A numbers of key factors from the impressive success story of customs digitization in Vanuatu were noted by participants: the strong political will, strong leadership in Customs, technical assistance (funding and capacity building) received from UNCTAD and donor partners, close collaboration with and participation of stakeholders and most importantly that Vanuatu Customs had competent and motivated people internally who were part of the AW implementation and now driving the national single window project. The success of automation implementation in Vanuatu has provided a good learning platform for participant during the two days visit. The visit was organized in the framework of current activities that the OCO is undertaking to assist PICs to improve their clearance efficiency in preparation for ratification and entry into force of PACER Plus.