Solomon Islands joins World Customs Organisation
Solomon Islands Customs and Excise Division (SICED) will soon join the World Customs Organisation (WCO), after more than 40 years. Comptroller of Custom and Excise, Mr Jim Sutton confirmed this after Cabinet has endorsed the Policy proposal recently.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Mr McKinnie Dentana has highlighted that this Policy achievement is part of the Customs reform and modernization commitment. It is also in line with the DCGA Government Macroeconomic and Fiscal Response Policy to the Post-November, 2021 Riot and C19 Community Transmission of the Government to promote trade activities.
The endorsement by the Cabinet to join WCO came through at a time when the country needs an economic recovery boost. “This is a historical achievement and the current DCGA Government must be commendable for make this important policy commitment”, according to the Permanent Secretary. Controller of Customs also say that this is an exciting opportunity for SI Customs and the country as a whole because being a member to WTO, it will help harness business and trade opportunities to assist with economic recovery and facilitate trade and travel.
WCO is an international body created to serve the collective needs of Customs Administrations globally.
It represents 184 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. As the global centre of Customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community.
Although no two Customs administrations necessarily look alike, Customs’ main functions include:
- Revenue collection (import/export duties and excise)
- Protection of economic interests (domestic industry)
- Protection of society (border control and health and safety)
- Economic development (trade facilitation)
- Security (across the entire trade supply chain)
The WCO oversees many international trade conventions which ensure universal application of rules and laws that are binding on signatory Members. SICED will now explore a priority listing of available Conventions that have immediate applicability to Solomon Islands, especially the International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures, known as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RYC) which is the blueprint for modern and efficient Customs procedures in the 21st century.
The Convention elaborates several key governing principles- chief among these are:
- Transparency and predictability of Customs actions;
- Standardization and simplification of the goods declaration and supporting documents;
- Simplified procedures for authorized persons;
- Maximum use of information technology;
- Minimum necessary Customs control to ensure compliance with regulations;
- Use of risk management and audit based controls;
- Coordinated interventions with other border agencies;
- Partnership with the trade.
In addition to the RKC, WCO controls and administers many other international trade conventions and programs specifically designed for the benefit of its members. WCO are at the forefront of ongoing development and innovation in World Trade to cater to the increasing demands associated with maintaining strong border controls whilst ensuring that legitimate trade is not unnecessarily hindered. Almost 98 percent of the world trade is currently carried out by Members.
The benefits of joining the WCO will facilitate Customs to Customs Communication, Cooperation and Information Exchange in matters related to border security, revenue fraud and advanced electronic data exchange. Other benefits include:
- Access to all WCO Documents and Publications via the “Member Only” section of the WCO website
- Access to strategic capacity building, enforcement, trade facilitation and technical training programs
- Technical Assistance for capacity building provided by other member administrations via WCO sanctioned mutual cooperation programs at no cost
- Access to fully funded participation in regional seminars and workshops,
After the endorsement of the WCO membership, the next step is to work alongside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist with the membership process which involves diplomatic exchanges of letters with WCO in Brussels, Belgium. The Australian Government through DFAT has offered to pay for membership of joining the WCO for the next four years. Provision of membership fees of AUD 50,000 per year over the next four years after which SIG takes responsibility.
Government Communications Unit