Customs management system will accelerate clearance of imports and exports, growing FSM’s economy

(25 NOVEMBER 2022, POHNPEI) – The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is to modernize its customs procedures through the upcoming launch of ASYCUDAWorld – a cutting-edge customs management system developed by the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to speed up customs clearance and facilitate international trade.

ASYCUDAWorld, developed by UNCTAD’s ASYCUDA programme, is a digital platform for customs management that covers foreign trade procedures, and simplifies and harmonizes manifests and customs declarations, along with accounting, transit and suspense procedures. The roll-out of the system in FSM is part of the European Union (EU) funded IMPACT (Improving Pacific Islands Customs and Trade) project that will see ASYCUDAWorld implemented in 15 Pacific Island nations.

A mobilization seminar was held in FSM from 24 – 25 November 2022, to raise awareness among government agencies, traders and other key stakeholders on how the system will work in practice, explaining the new clearance processes and the need to improve trade facilitation and customs procedures.

Opening the two-day seminar, FSM Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Kandhi A. Elieisar, expressed the government’s gratitude to the EU and UNCTAD for their support in reforming and modernizing the FSM customs administration.

Hon. Elieisar added that this step will drive the country’s customs to the next level of excellence and form the basis of a stronger and trusted partnership between the EU, UNCTAD and FSM. “Since ASYCUDAWorld has been implemented in many Pacific countries, the system will help to harmonize us with the region and the world with our national and international trading activities.”

The IMPACT project is part of the EU’s Pacific Regional Integration Support (PRISE) programme, which aims to increase the quality and the volume of goods traded intra-regionally between Pacific Island countries and internationally, including with the EU’s 27-member States.

The EU Trade Correspondent for the Pacific, Mr Massimo Diomedi Camassei, said, “In the Pacific, the EU is more than a development partner, it is also an economic partner, in particular for fisheries products, as the EU is the top global buyer of tuna from the Pacific. The main instruments to allow Pacific Island countries to make the most of the export opportunities offered on the EU market are the Economic Partnership Agreements.”

However, Mr Camassei pointed out that Economic Partnership Agreements are not enough. “This is the reason why the EU is also committed to regional economic integration in the Pacific, through a support project implemented in partnership with regional and international organizations such as the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Community and UNCTAD.”

When implemented, the system will benefit businesses in FSM and those looking to do business with them by facilitating faster, easier, and more affordable cross-border trade. By ensuring that all processes are harmonized and simplified, items can be declared, and the proper duties collected online, ASYCUDAWorld will help FSM optimize its customs processes and increase government revenue.

UN Resident Coordinator for Micronesia, Mr Jaap Van Heirde said, “ASYCUDAWorld envisions simplification of the customs regime, elimination of unnecessary bottlenecks, paperless procedures, and the use of digital technology for online service delivery, necessary for government and businesses alike to transform trade in FSM.”

“It is very reassuring to know that government programmes like these are being devised that actively involve all stakeholders and incorporate their feedback.”

Regional Coordinator for the ASYCUDA programme in the Pacific, Mr Jayvee Santos stated that UNCTAD’s mission is to provide the latest technology to customs organizations in the Pacific.

“The private sector is well advanced in terms of adopting modern technology and tools. The ASYCUDA programme ensures that customs administration is able to keep up to using the latest technology available so that they are able to carry out their work efficiently,” Mr Santos added.

The PRISE programme supports Pacific Island states to trade more effectively and efficiently, by increasing their capacity to access and benefit from international markets. The $27.25 million (€26.25 million) programme is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Community and UNCTAD.