The Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) in collaboration with the New Zealand Customs Service facilitated a Workshop on the WCO Revenue Package with focus on the HS 2017 for customs administrations in the Micronesia region. The Workshop was hosted by the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency from 16-20 July, 2018 and attended by seventeen (17) participants from five OCO member states, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau and Guam.

A number of the customs administrations are in the process of transposition to HS 2017 and the Workshop was aimed at supporting the proper application of the HS and the harmonization with the Pacific Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System 2017 (PACHS 17). The Workshop was opened by Mr. Eric Palacios, Director of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA), Guam. In his opening remarks, Director Palacios encouraged participants to network and forge new webs of cooperation and information sharing. The Director also highlighted some of the key programs by CQA and included the work towards automation, signing of the MOU with CNMI customs, the development of new office infrastructure and the recruitment of new Officers to bolster enforcement at the border.

During the Workshop, explanations on the HS 2017 and PACHS 17 were presented, including HS tariff classification. As part of the Workshop, participants were also provided basic information on Valuation, Rules of Origin, Risk Management and Customs Enforcement. The workshop benefited from the NZ Customs experience on some of the key customs issues and implementation. The WCO Tools and instruments developed to assist users of the HS and other trade facilitation initiatives were provided to the participants. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S Secret Service based in Guam apprised the participants with some of the latest border enforcement issues in the Oceania region.

Each of the member countries gave presentation on the status of implementation of HS, discussed the challenges to successful implementation and then devised Action Plans for implementation of HS 2017. Group discussions also took place sub-regional approach on customs reforms within Micronesia and this included training, lessons learnt and management practices. The OCO is also assisting members with compliance and accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention with CNMI aspiring to accede to the Convention.

The Workshop was closed by Mr. Jose Mafnas, Director of CNMI Customs and Chairman of the OCO. Mr. Mafnas challenged the participants to use the collective learning from the Workshop and implement at their respective national administrations. Although none of the countries is member of the WCO and WTO, the participants reiterated their commitment to implement HS 2017.

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