The OCO member representatives and Secretariat joined the Tonga Revenue and Customs Service and their stakeholders in celebrating International Customs Day on 25th January, 2019 in Tongatapu. The theme of the celebrations was consistent with that of the WCO “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.” The Tonga Ministry of Revenue and Customs hosted the celebrations at its headquarters with the Minister for Revenue and Customs, Honorable Mateni Tapueluleu delivering the key note address. The Minister highlighted the pivotal role that customs play in economic development of the Tonga through targeted controls and facilitation of trade.
Tonga Revenue and Customs Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kelemete Vahe, highlighted the modernization initiatives of the Tonga Customs key of which is the new Customs building to be opened in March 2019 contributing to an improvement in service delivery. He also spoke of their efforts to combat the trade of contraband goods through improvement in intelligence capability and procurement of equipment. “Tonga Customs is also actively participating in the implementation of Free Trade Agreement to ensure also market access for the private sector”. In the bid to measure trade facilitation, Tonga will be undertaking Time Release Study with the assistance provided by WCO. He explained that all these initiatives formed part of Custom’s vision for the year “Working together for a prosperous and safer Tonga”. He concluded by encouraging the staff to be SMART in order to secure border and provide efficient services for the welfare of the country.
The OCO representatives present at the meeting were attending the PACER Plus Transposition Workshop from 22-24 January, 2019 in Tonga. In joining the celebration, the OCO Head of Secretariat, Mr. Roy Lagolago remarked that “the OCO over the past year has continued its capacity building initiatives consistent with WCO theme for this year to train and equip Customs Officers across the Oceania region to ensure the swift and smooth cross—border movement of goods, people and means of transport. The HOS further added that some of the regional work program on harmonization of customs procedures through Revised Kyoto Convention accession and compliance process, implementation of the Pacific Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (PACHS) 2017, ongoing work towards the use of common automation system for OCO members and collaboration with partner Agencies is all contributing to members efforts to secure and facilitate legitimate trade.
International Customs Day is celebrated around the world by custom organizations every year on 26th of January.