The WCO has been enhancing its support for the Small Island Economies (SIEs). As part of the effort, the WCO, in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Customs, organized “WCO/JICA Joint Sub-regional MTP Introductory Webinar for the Pacific Islands” on 5 August 2020. The Webinar was organized virtually inviting the managers responsible for the human resource development from the 6 Customs administrations in the Pacific, namely Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu as well as the representatives from Oceania Customs Organization (OCO) Secretariat, JICA and Japan Customs.
As part of the WCO SIEs initiative, a number of regional dialogues took place in 2019 where a number of SIEs unique issues and challenges as well as recommended actions to be taken including the enhancement of cooperation with international or regional bodies and the development of a regional pool of experts were identified. The WCO has been seeking a possibility to realize such strategy and agreed with JICA, one of the active donors in the region as well as the partners of the WCO through the WCO/JICA Joint Project, to organize the Webinar to seek the way forward.
The Webinar was chaired by the ROCB A/P and discussed the possibility of developing a pool of experts in the Pacific Islands by launching the “Master Trainer Program (MTP)”, the flagship program of the WCO/JICA Joint Project. MTP is aimed at developing sustainable training capacity by 1) developing a pool of well-experienced trainers and (2) regionally featured training materials and program to be used by these trainers. Upon completion of the MTP, successful alumni are expected to become a regional asset and to deliver training for the benefit of Customs in the Pacific Islands as a whole. The Webinar became an excellent opportunity for all participating Customs administrations in the Pacific to understand what is the MTP, how it works, and contribute to the sustainable capacity building in the Pacific. It was also an excellent opportunity for the WCO and JICA to understand the latest issues and challenges that the Customs in the Pacific have been facing as well as their strong interest and support for the MTP. At the end of the Webinar, all participants agreed to take the necessary actions required to launch MTP in the Pacific Islands.
Both the WCO and JICA welcomed the strong interest and commitment expressed by the Customs in the Pacific and agreed to work with them to launch MTP to ensure more sustainable capacity development in the Pacific Islands.