Five Pacific Island Countries renewed a Memorandum of Agreement with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) backed ASYCUDA Support Mechanism for the Pacific (ASMP), which is now in its 22nd year of operation.

For over two decades, the ASMP has supported the modernisation and automation of the customs procedures in the Pacific.

The ASMP was established through a MoA signed in December 2001/January 2002 between the head of the Customs Administration for Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and UNCTAD. Papua New Guinea joined the ASMP framework through the signing in 2008 and subsequent Joint Statements and Solomon Islands in 2016.

The MoA outlined the intentions of the signatories to collaborate in modernising the in-country customs procedures with ASYCUDA systems. The main objective of the Agreement was to strengthen capacity of the five participating countries in setting up and operations of ASYCUDA system.

The Agreement further provided each country full ownership of the digitally automated customs operations with ASYCUDA and demonstrated the long-term sustainability at both national and regional levels through continued support from UNCTAD. Under this Agreement, funding for implementation is provided by the participating countries through a cost sharing arrangement.

Under the Agreement, the five Pacific Island Countries have experienced significant efficiencies and improvement in customs procedures, trade facilitation, customs revenue and data collections and border security.

Additionally, capacity building programmes have resulted in increased and enhanced ability of national ASYCUDA employees to manage and expand the system to fulfill the constantly evolving demands of the corresponding authorities.

Over the years, the Customs Administrations have taken steps to integrate the National ASYCUDA/Information Technology Teams into the organisational structures and allocated budgets to accommodate continued training, system support, and replacement of equipment.

The senior management of the participating Customs Administration meet annually to review ASMP with UNCTAD. This year’s meeting concluded on 8 November at the UNCTAD ASYCUDA Programme Office in Suva, Fiji.