23rd Regional Head of Customs Administration (RHCA) Conference 18-19 May 2022 organizing by Indonesia Customs as the WCO Asia Pacific Vice-chair was held in Nusa Dua, Bali, in hybrid format, allowing the possibilities for delegates who are unable to travel to join remotely via an online platform. This annual high-level meeting aims to set the region’s direction for the following years. The meeting leading by Mr. Askolani as the WCO Asia Pacific Vice-chair was  attended by more than 80 participants in-person and virtually, consisting of 22 Customs Administrations, the WCO Secretary General and  the High Officials, the Head of ROCB A/P and the Deputy Head of RILO A/P. Several important agenda items such as WCO Policy and Initiatives, WCO Strategic Plan 2022 – 2025, Report from the Vice-chair, Endorsement on the 2022-2024 Vice-chair, Regional Representatives, Regional Entities and Regional Strategic Plan 2022-2024, ROCB A/P and RILO A/P report, including Member’s Presentations on several Customs issues and other related business were discussed in this meeting.

Under the agenda item of official opening, welcome remarks presented by Director General of Customs and Excise of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Askolani, as the WCO Asia Pacific Vice-chair. In his remarks, Mr. Askolani conveyed several recent development and concern that may affect the Customs Community during the current crisis and appreciate the hard work shown by the WCO Secretariat to provide tools and instruments that help the members especially in A/P region. The Vice-chair also invited all members to express their ideas, proposals, and views in any given opportunity as this meeting would be a good chance to enrich member’s view and knowledge in achieving a fruitful meeting.

During his remarks, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, expressed his gratitude to Indonesia Customs for a strong leadership as a Vice-chair and also for hosting the hybrid meeting well. He also introduced the three main focus areas of the WCO and invited member administrations of A/P region to join the Council Sessions from 23 – 25 June 2022 in Brussels that followed by the Green Customs Global Conference.

The agenda item 1 was summed by a virtual keynote speech from the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Sri Mulyani Indrawati. In her keynote speech, she extended her sincere gratitude for the continuous support given by the Member Administrations to Indonesia Customs during its tenure as the WCO A/P Vice-chair. She also highlighted the need for much closer and forward-looking international cooperation thus she invited all Member Administrations to build a stronger partnership to manage global challenges to achieve resilient and inclusive Asia Pacific.

As the agenda adopted, it continued by the update of the WCO Policy and Initiatives. This agenda item was virtually presented by the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Trevino Chapa about the WCO Strategic Plan 2022 – 2025. Then Indonesia as a Vice-chair reported on key activities undertaken since July 2020 and some endorsement were made such as the Regional Strategic Plan 2022-2024, Australia as the next Vice-chair, Japan as the next host of RILO A/P and some Member Administrations to become the regional representatives of WCO Committees. All members also agreed to endorse Thailand becoming WCO A/P RTC and Iran becoming WCO A/P RDTC. It is also reported the Vice-chair activities both in regional and global forum, Regional Private Sector Group Asia Pacific work progress, and regional communications.

The interested members such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Maldives, and Singapore also get the opportunities to share experiences and exchange views on various Customs-related issues. On “Other Business” agenda item, all WCO Deputy Secretary Candidates get the opportunity to give a brief talk as part of their candidacy for the position and the signing ceremony between WCO Secretary General and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) to formalized the establishment of a Regional Training Centre (RTC) in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Together, we are echoing Asia Pacific!