Australia, in its capacity as the World Customs Organization (WCO) Regional Vice-Chair for the Asia/Pacific region, hosted the 32nd Session Regional Contact Points (RCP) Meeting in Brisbane from 15 to 18 November 2022. The event was the first regional meeting during the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner and Comptroller General of Customs, Michael Outram APM, tenure as the Regional Vice-Chair. It was also the first in-person meeting for the Asia/Pacific region since the COVID-19 Pandemic.
This meeting was chaired by Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, Group Manager, Customs Group, Vanessa Holben PSM, and was joined in person by 17 Member countries with a further seven virtually online. The working-level meeting included practical engagements and activities to encourage participation and ensure diversity of representation of Member views with a particular focus on combatting criminal infiltration of the supply chain and supply chain integrity.
(Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, Group Manager, Customs Group, Vanessa Holben PSM)
The first day focused on updating members on recent developments, including from the WCO Secretariat on Customs policy and initiatives, a report from the Asia/Pacific Regional Vice-Chair and endorsement of the intersessional voting process for a new Regional Strategic Plan (RSP) working group. Regional Office of Capacity Building – Asia/Pacific, Regional Intelligence Liaison Office – Asia/Pacific and Regional Private Sector Group –Asia/Pacific provided reports and Mr Kit Hickey provided an update from the Voluntary Disclosures Working Group. Regional Strategic Plan Area Coordinators updated Members on changes to the three enduring focus areas followed by a deep dive on linking the WCO Implementation Plan to the RSP and exploring what the region wants to focus on, specifically with the WCO Modernisation Plan. The first day also included an official photo of the group with both in-person and online attendees.
Day two featured four different Member presentations on recent initiatives and lessons learned on relevant regional priorities. Bangladesh presented on COVID-19 Challenges and Supply Chain Integrity, Cambodia presented on Trade Facilitation Reforms and the Roles of the National Committees on Trade Facilitation, China presented on Smart Customs Reform at Land Border Crossings and Maldives presented on Integrity.
Day three started with three exciting member proposals from the Australian Border Force, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise and Hong Kong Customs and Excise with each introducing plans to establish a WCO-accredited Regional Dog Training Centre. Another highlight from the day’s meeting was a Tabletop Exercise from the the ABF on combatting criminal infiltration of supply chains and strengthening supply chain integrity: Australia, led by ABF officers from Operation JARDENA, demonstrated its support as a delivery partner for the WCO supply chain integrity Project and facilitated Members’ discussion on various aspects and trends concerning criminal infiltration of global supply chains and possible strategies in response.
(In Person attendees completing desktop exercise on combatting criminal infiltration of supply chains and strengthening supply chain integrity with support from A/Superintendent Simone Mendes from Operation JARDENA)
(Commander Bjorn Roberts from Operation JARDENA)
The last day of the 32nd RCP recapped the event and the important highlights covered by the meeting and its presenters. After various administrations delivered their proposals for their expressions of interest for respective regional representative roles, Members received a warm farewell from the Chair GM Holben and encouraged Members to enjoy their remaining time in Brisbane and experience its tropical and vibrant atmosphere.