The ROCB A/P contributes to the SASEC Customs Subgroup Meeting
14-15 June 2017, Thimphu, Bhutan
At the invitation of the ADB and Bhutan Customs, Mr. Kazunari Igarashi, Head of the ROCB A/P, attended the 6th Meeting of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Customs Subgroup (SCS-6), which took place on 15 June 2017 in Thimphu, Bhutan, as one of the resource speakers. The Meeting were attended by 42 delegates from 7 SASEC Member Customs administrations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka) as well as resource speakers and representatives from the ADB. The meeting was officiated by the opening remarks delivered by Director of the Bhutan Customs, ADB’s Country Director for Bhutan, and Finance Minister of Bhutan.
In his inaugural address, Finance Minister stressed the needs for the trade facilitation for the economic growth, the Customs’ role in liaising economic cooperation among the SASEC Member countries. Finance Minister also underlined the value of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) as the fundamental instrument for the trade facilitation. The Meeting reviewed the progress of the SCS Workplan and endorsed Customs-related priority projects for 2016-2025, including simplification of trade documents, increase automation, expedite clearance procedures, promote national single window, capacity building for the use of modern techniques and international best practices and enhance regional cooperation and coordination mechanism among stakeholders involved in trade facilitation.
In the context of capacity building in the sub-region, Mr. Igarashi made a presentation on the WCO Priorities and capacity building support, in which he highlighted the accomplishments achieved by the SASEC Customs Members, including the Nepal’s accession to the RKC and the completion of the SASEC Multi-Year Project on Customs Valuation Control (please also refer to: http://www.rocb-ap.org/article-detail/255/?crmid=dgu3ldje819e2rmejjsdu57io1), and updated the progress in the WCO’s priority agendas, such as counter-terrorism, e-commerce, TFA implementation and Customs-Tax cooperation, and the progress of the related worked undertaken since the last Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference held in March 2017 in Fiji.
Prior to the SCS-6, a learning event was organized on 14 June 2017 focusing the implementation of the WTO TFA with a view to specifying the SASEC Member Customs administrations’ priority capacity building needs related to the implementation of the WTO TFA. In the wake of the country presentations on the TFA implementation and the overview of the TFA and its global progress, Mr. Igarashi made a presentation on the WCO’s Mercator Program and relevant WCO tools and guidelines for the TFA implementation and highlighted the notion of the tailor-made operation model under the Mercator Program, which was discussed and endorsed at the recent WCO Capacity Building Committee in March 2017. His contribution was well received and appreciated by the participants and the organizers. A copy of my presentation slides is appended as Annex 3.
In the wake of my presentation, a Q&A session was made in a roundtable way. Then, under the Session 4, resource persons from the KCS made a presentation on their CB assistance programs dedicated for the SASEC Members’ TFA implementation under the ADB and KCS collaboration. It was announced that the first Regional WS will be conducted in November 2017 in Korea. ADB then led the discussion under the Session 5 on the SASEC TFA CB Needs Survey, which was conducted in April-May 2017 and indicated 14 topics of the possible CB programs, and prioritization. Given that the Survey was not necessarily replied by all of 7 SASEC Members, it was suggested and then agreed that the ADB re-circulate the Survey questionnaire and the Members are requested to reply by mid-August 2017, then the ADB will analyze the replies and develop CB concept paper for consultation with the KCS for its delivery on identified prioritized TF measures.
Seizing the opportunity of visiting Bhutan, Mr. Igarashi had a bilateral consultation meeting with Mr. Yongten Namgyel, Director of the Bhutan Department of Revenue, and some 20 officials on 16 June 2017 to discuss the way to optimize the effects of the WCO capacity building assistance programs for the sake of the Bhutan Customs, grasp their on-going modernization efforts and discuss better coordination mechanism for future assistance programs with a view to better accommodating their needs and interests in a candid and friendly manner.
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