It is with great pleasure that I – Michael Outram, Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Comptroller-General of Customs – address you, on behalf of Australia and the ABF, as the newly appointed World Customs Organization (WCO) Regional Vice-Chair of the Asia/Pacific region.
I have recently assumed the role of WCO A/P Regional Vice-Chair from Director-General Askolani from Indonesia’s Directorate-General of Customs and Excise. And, I speak for the whole region in extending our gratitude and appreciation for the tremendous job DG Askolani and his team have done in executing the duties of the Vice-Chair during what proved to be an unprecedented, unpredictable and disruptive period with the emergence of COVID and subsequent world-wide pandemic over DG Askolani’s tenure.
Despite the challenges we have all faced, the last two years have demonstrated just how resilient and agile we can be, as well as the importance of our work and of our partnerships. And, it has reaffirmed and underscored the vital role of Customs agencies in ensuring our global community, as well as our borders and way of life, remain strong and resilient.
As I highlighted in my address to you at the 23rd Regional Heads of Customs Administrations Conference in May 2022, although we share differences, our diversity of thought and experience is in many ways our greatest asset for practical collaboration and leads to the delivery of tangible outcomes; whether that’s in terms of defining and achieving best practice, helping to build our collective capacity, or in the conduct of joint operational activity across the Asia/Pacific.
Our region’s ongoing work program has involved mapping the regional priorities for the next two years. This body of work can be summarised into three focus areas:
- Trade Facilitation and Security
- Compliance and Enforcement, and
- Capacity Building.
The role of Regional Vice-Chair is a responsibility that I take very seriously and I am humbled and grateful for the support and trust that you have shown in me. I look forward to representing our great region, and working collaboratively with all of you in our effort to stimulate regional growth, prosperity, unity, stability and security for the 33 Member nations of the Asia/Pacific.
I would like to reiterate my commitment to fulfilling the obligations of the WCO A/P Regional Vice-Chair by advocating for our region, progressing these mutually agreed upon regional priorities and continuing to drive the work and efforts of our predecessors. And, I look forward to engaging and collaborating in a meaningful and innovative way, to combat some of the emerging and contemporary issues we, as an Asia/Pacific region, are likely to encounter.
Finally, it is with great pleasure that I invite your active participation in this year’s calendar of upcoming events and fixtures, and with subsequent years’ calendars as we seek to resume a rhythm of regular in-person engagement. I look forward to meeting with you all soon in-person and in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact my Secretariat and the Office for any relevant matters.
Michael Outram APM
Chairperson of WCO Asia/Pacific Regional Vice-Chair
Comptroller-General of Customs Australia
Australian Border Force Commissioner