IF there is one wish the secretary general of the World Customs Organisation, has for the Pacific region — it is to see an improvement in border control and the sharing of knowledge and experiences.
With over 43 years of experience as a customs officer, Kumiyo Mikuriya is understandably passionate about customs issues and its challenges.
For the WCO, establishing a regional training centre in Fiji was an achievement of all sorts, one was that it now has a "Pacific" presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first ever for the Pacific region but the seventh in the Asia Pacific region, the regional training centre at the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority complex in Nasese is expected to be used by the WCO and the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) for "relevant training and technical assistance to its members".
Mr Mikuriya said the selection of Fiji as the regional training centre was not only because of the fact that it was the hub of the Pacific but that there was political willingness to support the centre.
He added that the centre could provide an opportunity for the region to share expertise and knowledge.
Considering that we are island economies with varying levels of development, Mr Mikuriya admitted that border control could be very challenging and he admitted the need to share information as well as encourage cooperation.
He said the WCO and the OCO could provide linkages within the island economies and also with donor partners who could provide assistance.
He emphasised, the economies must take ownership of the issues affecting border control.
He identified risk management as one of important training for the region. With the increasing volumes of trade, Mr Mikuriya said Customs cannot inspect all goods but they could link up with the business community.