17TH WCO Asia Pacific Regional Contact Point Meeting SUMMARY REPORT Opening 1. The 17th WCO Asia Pacific Regional Contacts Points Meeting was held from 1-4 October 2007 in Goa, India. It was attended by 42 delegates from: Australia; Bhutan; Brunei Darussalam; China; Fiji; Hong Kong China; India; Japan; Macao China; Malaysia; Maldives; New Zealand; Pakistan; Republic of Korea; Singapore; Thailand and Vietnam. Representatives from the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), Asia Pacific Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO A/P), Regional Office of Capacity Building (ROCB) and WCO also attended in the capacity of Observers. 2. Mr. S. K. Shingal, Chairman, Central Board of Excise & Customs, of the Indian Customs Administration inaugurated the meeting and made the opening remarks. 3. He welcomed all the delegates and appreciated the larger representation from the region. He noted that this meeting would take forward and adopt the Regional Strategic Plan for 2008-10 and appreciated the cooperation and contribution of all the Members especially of the Regional Steering Group, in developing the plan. He also hoped that the meeting would be able to address issues concerning regional developments and enhance the communication and experience sharing between the Members. He appreciated the performance of ROCB and RILO A/P. Agenda Item I: Election of Chair 4. The RCP meeting then elected the Chair for the meeting. Proposed by Australia and seconded by Malaysia, Ms. Kameswari Subramanian of Indian Customs Administration was elected as the Chair. Agenda Item II: Adoption of Agenda 5. The Meeting adopted the Agenda after taking note of an additional four presentations at Item VI (Korea and Pakistan under International Supply Chain Security and Facilitation, Australian under Research and Information Sharing and Korea under Capacity Building) and the suggestion by the Chair to make minor adjustments regarding time schedule for the presentations and meeting.
Agenda Item III: Business Arrangement 6. The representative of the Vice Chair’s office outlined the business arrangement for the meeting. Agenda Item IV: Presentation from WCO 7. The WCO Observer made a presentation on the outcome of the June 2007 Council Session and June 2007 Policy Commission meeting. She provided an update on progress in respect of the SAFE Framework, the Customs in the 21 st Century paper and the Columbus Program, noting that progress into Phase 2 was all about customs administrations taking over ownership – moving from words to actions. The Observer also covered developments on enforcement issues, including the establishment of an Operational Coordination Unit in the WCO and nCEN. She also advised Delegates that the WCO had introduced an upgraded global website. The meeting took note of the issues covered and commended the WCO Secretariat for the work done. Regarding encouragement to Members to accede to the Revised Kyoto Convention, the Delegate of India noted that this issue was one of the action points identified by Regional Members for the Regional Strategic Plan and that Members and ROCB will continue to work to progress the issue in the region. Agenda Item V: Report of the Vice Chair 8. The representative of the Vice Chair office reported on the work undertaken since the last RCP meeting. The report briefly outlined the regional contribution in the WCO meetings and the regional interaction by way of exchange of e-mails, newsletters, updating of websites and stressed the need to continue to work together, to share ideas and experiences to combat illegal activities. The report also provided the details of work done by ROCB and RILO A/P and the efforts undertaken on the development of a new Regional Strategic Plan. Agenda Item VI: Presentations and discussions on progress and achievements under Regional Strategic Plan 2005-2007 9. The Delegate of India gave a presentation on the progress of work by the WCO Commercial Fraud Working Group, noting that existing Asia Pacific representatives to the group had expressed their willingness to continue their representational roles in the group for the next term. The Delegate also provided details on the Indian experience regarding commercial fraud and cited the modus operandi of certain cases. The Delegate highlighted that greater cooperation between Members of the Region and enhancing capacity building in this area was required to meet the challenges effectively.
10. The Observer from RILO A/P gave a progress report on RILO A/P activities, the support from the host Administration, China, as well as Members and on the future direction of RILO A/P. Details covered strengthening intelligence analysis and providing more and better intelligence products, promotion of the Customs Enforcement Network and providing increased technical assistance programs in the region. He also reported on the progress made on Projects Sky Hole Patching, Crocodile and Targeting MBMA Smuggling. The Delegate of China congratulated RILO A/P for the work accomplished and offered China’s continuing support for RILO A/P. The Delegate of Japan also indicated Japan’s continuing support and extended Japan’s appreciation to China for the work undertaken in supporting the RILO A/P office. 11. The Delegate of China made a verbal report on the latest development of the China-EU Smart and Secure Trade Lane Pilot Project. The report provided an insight to the objectives and measures taken by China Customs in the Pilot Project focusing on the implementation of the Framework. Meanwhile, the delegate of China also made a presentation on the AEO adoption in China, which is regarded as the real sense implementation of the Framework. 12. The Delegate of Japan made a presentation on the Security and Facilitation of Trade. The presentation highlighted the importance of trade facilitation and outlined the related issues that were being currently considered in the WTO, WCO and APEC. The presentation then gave a detailed account of the relevant trade facilitation issues under consideration in the WTO and the progress of negotiations in the WTO. The presentation also provided insight into Japan’s approach to trade facilitation through the Asia Gateway Initiative, trade procedures restructuring program, AEO and mutual recognition. The presentation also covered Japan’s package of assistance to developing countries on existing and new issues. The Chair noted that there were about ten customs issues on the table at the WTO, which were already linked to WCO instruments and encouraged Members to consult with trade officials regarding negotiations on those issues even if unable to participate directly in the negotiations. 13. The Delegate from Korea informed the meeting about the development of Korea’s AEO program and its related Customs data exchange program. The presentation covered legislative amendments and pilot work underway with the Philippines and Belgium. The Delegate advised that Korea will be hosting an IT Conference next year, scheduled for 23-26 April. 14. The Delegate of Pakistan made a presentation on the Pakistan Customs’ Strategic Response towards Securing International Supply Chain Security, which had been set in place under Pakistan’s National Supply Chain Security Strategy. The Delegate confirmed that under the Port Qasim pilot with the US that 100% consignments to US were subject to inspection.
15. The Delegate of New Zealand briefed the meeting on the progress of AEO programs, including mutual recognition in the Asia Pacific Region and provided a paper that contained the consolidated details for the region. The paper outlined progress in Australia, China, Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand. The Delegate of Australia suggested that the Regional Steering Group (RSG) should continue the work on consolidating information on regional AEO programs. The Observer from WCO suggested that this information could be shared with other WCO regions by placing it on the regional web-site. 16. The Delegate of Australia made a presentation on APEC work relating to Single Window providing details of the background to the work and future directions. Details covered the formation of an APEC Single Window Working Group and its work on preparing a Strategic Plan, which contained a number of recommendations and a Development Report. The Delegate informed Delegates that preplanning is underway for Phase 2 of the APEC work on this issue. The Chair noted that these inputs were very useful and suggested that this information be shared with the WCO as this issue is one of the major concepts under WTO trade facilitation negotiations. 17. The Delegate of Australia presented the updated Asia Pacific Environmental Plan, which covered contemporary global influences on customs business, as well as the regional economic profile. The scan noted that customs will be increasingly important for managing the impact of the global developments at national borders and that an individual administration’s capacity to respond to the challenges will rest on that administration’s stage of development. 18. The Delegate of Australia provided a further presentation on key issues on the work agendas of other regional organizations i.e. APEC, ASEAN, ASEM and the OCO. 19. The Delegate of India gave a detailed presentation on the capacity building and training activities in Indian Customs and the major initiatives taken on adoption of IT systems and scanning technology. The presentation also provided details about the Indian Customs training academy i.e. (National Academy of Customs Excise & Narcotics) NACEN and the programs conducted by it. 20. The Delegate of Japan, as the Regional Training Coordinator, presented the results of technical assistance survey, which had been conducted to identify the existing regional technical assistance needs. The Delegate also provided details on regional events, the review of fund management system, the support provided under the CCF, Japan and WCO scholarship and fellowship programs. He concluded that Japan Customs in collaboration with ROCB would continue to
develop appropriate capacity building programs towards realizing Customs reforms and modernization. The Delegate of Fiji thanked Japan for providing training assistance and suggested that after the WCO diagnostic mission, the training needs of each Member should be looked into as some past training provided had not matched requirements. On query from the Delegate of Korea, the Delegate of Japan explained that demand for programs relating to trade facilitation and security was significant. However, that individual Member’s requirements were assessed through the needs survey, which is coordinated through ROCB in order to develop the appropriate training programs. The ROCB Observer stated that the ROCB was working towards progressing implementation plans and since the WCO diagnostic reports were confidential it is not possible to forecast regional training needs in this regard. The diagnostic outcomes would help identify two issues – what needs to be addressed and what technical assistance is required. The ROCB could establish trends and analyse needs if provided with a copy of individual Member’s summary of their diagnostic report. The Chair noted that it would be useful to provide information on other areas of technical assistance required as this would give all Members an appreciation of where others require some technical help and agreed for the need to link into the Columbus Program to get voluntary disclosure of the outcomes of the assessments. The Delegate of Japan agreed that the needs survey could be changed to identify the specific elements to be addressed. 21. The Observer from ROCB presented a progress report on work undertaken under the existing Regional Strategic Plan, Key Result Area 1 – Capacity Building. The report covered the delivery of seminars, the establishment of an Annual Action Plan for regional capacity building and technical assistance activities, cooperation with Regional Training centres, ROCB participation in regional seminars, consultation and cooperation with donors and future activities including a seminar on container x-ray in Australia in 2008 and a meeting of donors in Bangkok before the end of the year. Regarding SECURE, the Observer stated that the standards are still under development but the ROCB is giving some thought on how to approach assistance with implementation. The RILO A/P Observer indicated that RILO A/P wished to continue a close association with the ROCB and questioned whether the ROCB would attend the next RILO A/P National Contact Points meeting. The OCO Observer thanked the ROCB for the recent workshops in Fiji, noting that most of the participants were from administrations that were not WCO Members and added that the OCO was looking to the ROCB for future support and cooperation. The Delegate from Malaysia expressed her thanks to the ROCB for the capacity building assistance provided to Malaysia but noted that there should be better coordination between the work of all assistance providers.. 22. The Delegate of Korea made a presentation on the development of Korea’s capacity building programs, providing details on the background and specific
elements of the programs, which have benefited 245 officials from WCO Asia Pacific Members and 21 officials from ASEAN Members. The Delegate also provided information on 14th Regional Capacity Building Seminar organized by Korea Customs in August, 2007. 23. The Delegate of Malaysia gave a report on the WCO Audit Committee, informing Delegates of the background to the committee, including that Malaysia is the regional representative on the committee and India the alternate. The Delegate also reported on the matters discussed at the committee’s first meeting, noting that the last WCO Council endorsed the Audit Committee’s approach and its proposed three year program. The Delegate informed the meeting that the next meeting of the Audit Committee would be a “virtual meeting” in October and that Members should examine the Audit Committee’s Report – paper SP0244E1a and submit any comments to her in time for the virtual meeting. The next meeting of the Audit Committee in Brussels is scheduled for April 2008. 24. The Delegate of Australia made a presentation on the benefits of a closer working relationship with business. The presentation outlined Australia’s experience with working with E-bay and other on-line service providers utilizing information held by those entities for Customs targeting purposes, as well as towards launching investigations into possible past illegal importations. The presentation highlighted Australian Customs past successes intercepting illegal items at the border and outlined the wider criminal linkage uncovered through further investigations by Australian customs and other Australian law enforcement authorities.. 25. The OCO Observer made a presentation on the role and function of OCO and on some key activities. The meeting took note of the excellent work that was being done by the OCO and its Members. The Delegate of New Zealand commented that the OCO was a useful example of how smaller customs administrations could get together and tackle common interest issues, citing the study on customs regionalization and the IT study – automation for small administrations as good examples of this work. Regional Strategic Plan 2008-10 26. India facilitated the discussions on the adoption of the Regional Strategic Plan 2008-10. The suggestions received from the Members after the draft was last modified, were discussed and necessary changes were incorporated in the text. The meeting adopted the final text of Regional Strategic Plan 2008-10, as enclosed at Annexure –A.
Agenda Item VII: Other Business 27. The Delegate of China informed the meeting of China’s willingness to continue to host the RILO A/P. for another term. The meeting agreed by consensus to China’s offer. 28. The meeting also discussed the hosting and maintenance of Asia Pacific regional website. The representative from the Vice Chair’s office informed that there were some important issues to hosting the web-site including investment in maintaining the site, the costs being borne by the host administration. On account of this ongoing investment that it may be best for one administration to continually maintain the site rather than routinely move it, as has occurred in the past. India was happy to retain the maintenance of the site however, it would be open to any other regional administration to undertake this role should the meeting agree to the suggested change to past practice. The meeting agreed that the decision on hosting the site be left to the next Vice Chair although the issue could be further discussed in the Regional Steering Group meeting following. Agenda Item VIII: Date and Venue of the 18th RCP Meeting 29. Regarding the time and venue of the next RCP meeting, the Chair observed that conventionally the next Vice Chair would host it. The meeting took note of the same. Adoption of the executive summary of the meeting 30. The Chair proposed that the full report of the meeting would be sent by e-mail to the RCPs who could send their comments within a week so that the report may be finalized at the earliest. The meeting adopted the suggestion. Agenda Item IX: Regional Steering Group Meeting 31. The Regional Steering Group consisting of Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore and ROCB met on 4th October 2007 after the RCP meeting was concluded. Agreement was reached to include the evaluation of the RSG and hosting of the regional website on the agenda for the meeting. 32. Regarding ROCB administrative issues the ROCB informed that its planning has entailed the development of an Annual Report, which is normally circulated to RSG members in December for comment. Also, that a three year Strategic Plan is to be developed. This will be circulated for comment to RSP Members. From that point a Work Plan will be developed and this also will be circulated for comment by RSG Members. Australia suggested that the ROCB planning should align with
the activities set out in the new Regional Strategic Plan. ROCB agreed to make the necessary changes. 33. ROCB pointed out that the implementation of the SAFE Framework was one of the important regional issues where there is a need to adopt country specific approach to assistance as well as a regional approach through mechanisms such as regional seminars. Japan mentioned that assistance with implementation of the SAFE Framework would depend on the Action Plan of individual Members. India suggested that Members should provide a summary of the outcomes contained in the WCO Diagnostic Reports to the ROCB, which would help in taking a decision on country specific requirements. 34. ROCB mentioned that it had received a suggestion that information on planned capacity building assistance be posted on the regional web-site where all could reference the information. The ROCB also mentioned that the donors issue is very important in respect of capacity building and the ROCB website will institute a new forum where inputs from donors could be sent. Australia expressed its appreciation for the suggestion and stated that it would be useful for donors to have a single reference point. ROCB informed that this part of ROCB website would be made functional within two weeks. China suggested that a formal letter to all Members should be arranged to request information on planned assistance activities to include on the website. 35. China also suggested that ROCB should provide opportunities to all Regional Members to contribute experts towards capacity building, suggesting a greater use of the regional accredited trainers and to further develop the number of accredited regional trainers. The ROCB informed that the WCO position is that WCO assistance activities are to be performed by WCO accredited trainers. The current issue for the ROCB is to maintain the existing pool of regional accredited trainers as the WCO has restricted its accreditation of trainers processes and is now focusing more on management issues. New Zealand mentioned that if there is existing capability in the region to provide technical assistance then Director Generals should be convinced by the RSG of the importance of the issue for the region. Many other observations were made on the expertise available within the region and that this should be utilized in addition to using WCO accredited trainers, notwithstanding the WCO position. ROCB informed that this issue, including the cost of experts, was on the agenda items of the next Heads of Training Centers Meeting. China stated that the RTC meeting may not be in a position to decide on the provision of experts and ROCB may consider organizing another forum to decide on capacity building issues. Australia questioned why technical experts in RTC could not be used for regional training. India responded that in its case RTC staffing largely comprised of coordinators, technical expertise trainers were drawn from the working areas concerned on a needs basis. The Chair suggested that the matter of a regional pool of experts should be brought to
the attention of Regional Heads of Administrations. 36. Korea queried what accreditation by the WCO actually meant. ROCB responded that the WCO provided teaching methods on specific areas and topics, citing the recent examples of sessions on the HS system and Valuation, where two officials from China and one from Mongolia attended. Accreditation by the WCO lasts for three years and is not necessarily limited to training in specific topics. The intention is to have a “pool” of experts that the WCO can draw on to undertake training activities. 37. Pakistan mentioned that it had a pool of experts awaiting accreditation and it was happy to offer the services of those experts for regional activities 38. Regarding administrative issues relating to RILO A/P., the meeting agreed that the RILO A/P would be considered by the RSG so RILO A/P should be included in the RSG from the next meeting. The Meeting also decided that RILO A/P should provide its program to the RSG for implementing its activities set out in the new RSP. The Chair stated that the Vice Chair will write to the Head of RILO A/P in this regard. 39. The review of RSG was also discussed. New Zealand questioned whether the RSG should have an annual work plan. There was general discussion on this issue and broad agreement that more use could be made of the RSG in the future to assist the Vice Chair on regional issues. It was agreed that the Vice Chair should proactively send out a list of important meetings that address issues that need tackling from a regional perspective with the view of coordinating comments for those meetings, for example, Customs in 21st Century, SAFE Working Group and Integrity Sub Committee. 40. China suggested that representatives of Audit Committee should also be included in the RSG, which was agreed. It was also suggested that in future the RSG should meet before the RCP meeting and if required a couple of months before the Regional Heads Meeting although not for the next Heads meeting. 41. Implementation of Regional Strategic Plan 2008-2010 was also discussed. It was agreed that the coordinators should report to the Vice Chair in six-monthly intervals on progress. Reports would also be prepared for RCP and Regional Heads meetings. 42. Regarding the issue of integrity Korea informed the meeting that Korea was preparing a paper on integrity to provide to the WCO. It was also noted that Malaysia is currently the Chair of the WCO Integrity Sub-Committee and that under Regional Strategic Plan 2008-10, the RSG is the responsible party, for developing an action plan to promote integrity in the region. In order to assist
with this task the Chair stated that the Vice Chair’s office would liaise with Malaysia and Korea for possible suggestions for the action plan. The ROCB agreed to provide compilation of the best practices on integrity. Australia mentioned that it would be useful to have something developed in time for the Regional Heads meeting next year. Also, that focus should be on a small number of deliverable activities rather than an expansive number that would be difficult to implement. 43. On hosting of regional website it was agreed to leave current arrangements in place and that some thought be given to whether the issue should be on the agenda for the next Regional Heads meeting. 44. Regarding draft agenda for the next Regional Heads Meeting it was agreed that the suggestions would be sent by the Members by early November. Korea informed that they are holding WCO IT Conference during April, 2007 which may be taken into consideration while fixing the dates for Regional Heads Meeting, which was taken note of. 45. The final text of Regional Strategic Plan 2008-10 is enclosed at Annexure–A and list of all delegates is enclosed at Annexure-B. *******