A Regional Workshop to assist Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) members with the uniform application and implementation of the Harmonised System Nomenclature 2017 was held in Nadi, Fiji from 24-28 April, 2017. The workshop was funded by Australia and New Zealand through their Readiness Package for PACER Plus and organized by the OCO Secretariat.


Sixteen Customs officers representing Fifteen (15) Customs Administration of the OCO (Northern, Mariana Islands, Cooks Islands, Fiji, Federated State of Micronesia, Guam, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) participated in the Workshop which was facilitated by experts from World Customs Organisation (WCO), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), New Zealand Statistics, Centre for Customs and Excise Studies (CCES) and OCO Secretariat. Representing the Bureau of Customs & Border Protection from Palau was Ms. Joline Spesungel.

The main objective of the Workshop was to assist OCO members in the uniformity in the interpretation and application of the HS 2017. Moreover, the Workshop was also to assist members to implement their obligations under a number of free trade agreements currently under negotiation and including PACER Plus. The implementation of HS for OCO members is important for tariffs and trade statistics and for other purposes as rules of origin and economic research and analysis. [

The Workshop was officially opened by Mr. Seve Paeniu, the Head of Secretariat of the OCO. He welcomed all participants and highlighted the importance of implementing HS 2017 given a number of international and regional convention/instrument that are being implemented or currently under negotiation including PACER Plus. Mr. Paeniu further highlighted the OCO initiative to build up a pool of regional experts in the Pacific through a long-term capacity development program with the aim to ensure that there is capacity available at the national level to sustain the HS implementation and any subsequent amendments in the future. The Head of Secretariat also acknowledged the work of the OCO Technical Working Group on HS, partnership with WCO, SPC and NZ Statistics and the financial assistance provided by Australia and New Zealand through their Readiness Package for PACER Plus to enable the workshop to occur and to support the implementation of the HS 2017.

During the Workshop, explanation on the HS convention and HS 2017 amendments were presented including the WCO tools and instruments developed to assist users in the HS in order to modernize tariff classification and related infrastructure. The materials developed under the WCO Revenue Package were also presented to members.

The participants were also informed of the progress on the development of the Pacific Tariff Framework. The Pacific Tariff Framework will provide for the formulation of Pacific Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (PACHS) 2017. The PACHS would assist OCO members in particular the non-WCO members to adopt HS 2017 and one that also reflects key tradeable commodities for the Pacific region.

Through the Workshop, participants discussed capacity needs and developed Action Plans for the implementation of the HS 2017. The participating OCO members reiterated their commitment to implement HS 2017 during the Workshop

According to the Director of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Palau is currently using the HS 2002 version and with over 223 amendments and new subheadings on a number of goods that were entered into force on January 01, 2017, Palau will have to update and move towards the implementation of the HS 2017 this year. In doing so, we plan to receive assistance from the OCO to conduct a number of workshops and trainings for our staff and stakeholders. Due to the importance of the HS in the collection of trade statistics, the HS 2017 amendments will enhance and provide a more detailed reporting of all data collected and reported by Customs. Customs also has a huge task to introduce legislation and ensure the implementation of the HS 2017 is supported by legislation. Palau is probably the only country in the world that has been implementing the HS without legislation from the start. The introduction of a Customs Tariff Bill is so important because it will tie in all of the duty rates, imports and exports duty to the  classification of all goods, and general specific rates of duty. The HS will provide the description and coding system to ensure that imports and exports are classified on a standard basis for customs and statistical purposes.  [/restrict]