The 24th Regional Heads of Customs Administrations (RHCA) Conference

06 Jul 2023

The WCO Asia/Pacific 24th Regional Heads of Customs Administration Conference (RHCA) was held in Perth, Australia from 28 to 31 May 2023. It was hosted by Asia and the Pacific Regional Vice-Chair (APVC), Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner and Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr. Michael Outram APM. He chaired the 24th RHCA and WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, and the Asia and the Pacific Regional Vice-Chair Secretariat Assistant Secretary Ms. Kimberlee Stamatis also joined. 80 delegates from 22 Asia and the Pacific Members took part in the in-person meeting including Heads of the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO AP) and the Regional Office of Capacity Building (ROCB AP). Also, some participants of member administrations and the Chair of the Regional Private Sector Group (RPSG AP) attended the meeting virtually.

On 29 May, the first day of a full-day conference started with acknowledgment of country and housekeeping remarks made by Ms. Kimberlee, Asia and the Pacific Regional Vice-Chair Secretariat Assistant Secretary, followed by an official opening speech from Mr. Michael Outram APM, Asia and the Pacific Regional Vice-Chair, and remarks from Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. The official opening session concluded with a keynote speech from Ms. Hon Clare O’Neil MP, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs. On the same day, regional matters were mainly discussed including the progress of the Regional Strategic Plan (RSP) 2022-2024: Trade security and facilitation, Compliance and enforcement, and Capacity building as the respective Focus Area one, two, and three. RILO AP, as a co-coordinator of Focus area two which is Compliance and enforcement, shared the result of a questionnaire conducted to assess the level of implementation of RSP 2022-2024. It included evaluation of data input into CEN, establishment of information exchange arrangement, utilization of API/PNR, identification of regional priority in enforcement area, and so on. Also, RILO AP and ROCB AP delivered their progress reports. RILO AP reported the activities carried out for the last year such as intelligence liaison, CEN management, capacity building, intelligence projects, and law enforcement joint operations.

On the following day, participants continued to review and approve the proposals to establish WCO-accredited Regional Dog Training Centers (RDTC) submitted by three member administrations: Australia, Hong Kong of China, and Indonesia. A guest speaker from the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) was invited to introduce collaboration between customs and industry in relation to the execution of the WCO operation TIN CAN. Also, the chair of Asia and the Pacific Regional Private Sector Group (RPSG) gave a presentation on the progress report. Participants were requested to review presentations provided by nominating members to various WCO positions: Hong Kong of China for the post of WCO Asia and the Pacific Regional Vice-Chair for 2024 to 2026, Japan for a representative seat on WCO Policy Commission, and New Zealand for a representative seat on WCO Audit Committee.

 On the last day of the conference, delegates were updated on the WCO Asia and the Pacific Plastic Waste (APPW) Project. Also, the matter of regional identity branding was discussed with a view to establishing a distinct logo to show regional identity. In addition, there were signing ceremonies regarding the Memorandum of Cooperation between Japan and the WCO on the hosting of the RILO AP for 2024 to 2027 and a funding agreement for the WCO Global Supply Chain Integrity Project between Australia and the WCO.

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