Suva, Fiji, August 25, 2020– OCO recently worked with five signatory countries – Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Tuvalu- to draft Guidelines on Customs Procedures and Rules of Origin, intended to improve customs officials and traders’ understanding of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER-Plus) and overall improve trading between the countries.

“The countries are already implementing some of these border measures but having a common guideline for customs administrations will be critical in the successful implementation of the Agreement, Head of the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Secretariat, Richard Brennan says.

“OCO has been working with officials of Pacific PACER Plus signatory countries to help them understand and comply with their country’s obligations under the Agreement. However, there must be a common guideline that is tailor made to the circumstances of the countries that have signed the Agreement.”

The guidelines will focus on PACER Plus obligations related to Rules of Origin (ROO) and Customs Procedures as well as COVID-19 measures.

“A better understanding of the agreement and its provisions by customs officers and traders will achieve one of the aims of the Agreement, which is to facilitate and increase regional trade in the Pacific,” Mr. Brennan added.

Mr Brennan says that customs administrations in the OCO region will play a critical role in the implementation of PACER plus when it comes into force, particularly in the Trade in Goods, Customs Procedures and Rules of Origin provisions. PACER-Plus is a trade and development agreement that aims to support sustainable economic development through job creation and private sector growth by providing a platform for increasing regional trade, investment and labor flows. Under the PACER Readiness Package, with support from the Australian and New Zealand governments, OCO is assisting in the development of customs guidelines for a number of PACER Plus countries.

Eleven countries have signed the Agreement, which are Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Agreement will come into effect 60 days after the eighth country has ratified the Agreement. The seven countries that have ratified the Agreement are Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Niue.

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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