Oceania Customs Organisation is confident customs officers are prepared to facilitate trade under PACER Plus in countries that are parties to the agreement, which came into effect on December 13.
“Trade facilitation is an important role of Customs officers; therefore, they play a central role in the successful implementation of PACER Plus,” Acting OCO Head of Secretariat, Mrs. Irma Daphney Stone said. “Under the PACER Plus Readiness Package, OCO in collaboration with the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies at Charles Sturt University (CCES) have been training Customs officers on the Rules of Origin (RoO) of PACER Plus and we recently completed a refresher training in anticipation of the agreement coming into effect.”
The workshop, which had 10 female and 10 male participants from nine PACER Plus parties, focused on how to determine the originating status of products exported to the Pacific claiming preferential tariff treatment under PACER Plus, the origin verification procedures; and the role and responsibilities of the customs authorities on validating the originating status.
Given the travel restriction on COVID-19, the training was delivered via online mode and a series of webinars. The training also had an important train the trainer component as some of the participants were regional PACER Plus RoO Trainers and they will be training Customs Officials and private stakeholders in their countries.
During the training, participants were also apprised of advance rulings and they had an opportunity to undertake exercises and also discuss how to implement advance rulings in an efficient manner in their administrations.
Since 2018, OCO with funding under the PACER Plus Readiness Package and in partnership with CCES had built capacity of members on PACER RoO training a total of 104 Customs Officials and 168 stakeholders. OCO also worked with Parties in the formulation of Guidelines on the PACER Rules of Origin and Customs Procedures. Overall, the capacity building provided by OCO is designed to support the PACER Plus Parties to optimize the use of preferences provided for by PACER Plus.
The eleven countries who have signed the PACER Plus Agreement are Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, while eight have ratified the agreement.