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Newly Appointed Customs Officer’s Take Oath of Office

June 19, 2024 – Koror, Republic of Palau – The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) is pleased to announce the formal induction of three new Customs Officers I. Sesario Gibbons, Ermangarde Augustino, and Jeracie Oiterong took their Oath of Office in a ceremony presided over by Acting Director of the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS), Temdik Ngirblekuu. The event was witnessed by Acting Director of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Clint Mersai, along with other Customs Officers and the officers’ family members.

We welcome these new officers into the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and we look forward to their continued support and contribution to our Mission. Their dedication and commitment over the past three months of rigorous in-job training and orientation have prepared them well for their roles. We look forward to their valuable contributions in the field.”

The new officers are currently engaged in a curriculum training at the Main Customs Office. This training encompasses essential areas such as Customs Laws, Regulations, Processes, Protocols, Ethics, and other pertinent course material integral to their duties as well as the Divisions and Sections under the Bureau. This thorough preparation ensures that they are well-equipped to uphold the standards and responsibilities of their positions.

As they transition into field operations, BCBP is confident in their ability to support and further the mission and goals of the Bureau for the Republic of Palau.

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About the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection: The Bureau is dedicated to enforcing laws related to customs and border security, revenue collection and compliance, as well as facilitating legitimate trade and travel, and ultimately ensuring the safety and economic prosperity of the Republic of Palau through vigilant border protection and efficient customs operations.

KRW Broker Image

Palau Customs Broker Agents Highlight Efficiency with ASCYCUDA

In the competitive world of customs brokerage, efficiency is paramount.

The Republic of Palau’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection recently implemented the cutting-edge ASYCUDAWorld system, developed by the United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This move has transformed the trading community’s experience, streamlining nationwide customs processes and mandating use of the automated system by customs brokers and agents.

KRW Company, a well-established customs agency with five years of industry experience, was among the first to transition from manual into automated customs processes.

For Ms. Avonlea Niro, a declarant at KRW Company in the Republic of Palau, mastering the intricacies of customs clearance processes on the digital ASYCUDAWorld system has been a journey of learning so far.

Learning the ropes of the system was initially daunting, but with determination, I turned the challenges into opportunities,” Ms. Niro reflected. Ms. Niro had to immerse herself in understanding the complexities of the automated system, moving away from traditional paperwork.

One significant hurdle she encountered was navigating the online form-filling maze. However, the unwavering support of the ASYCUDA team at the Palau BCBP proved invaluable. Not only did Ms. Niro grasp the nuances of the forms, but she also learned the ropes of efficient submission.

The ASYCUDA TEAM was instrumental in my learning journey, their guidance was invaluable in simplifying the process for my understanding,” Ms. Niro said. The advent of ASYCUDA brought a paradigm shift, revolutionizing Ms Niro’s workflow. The seamless, paperless approach not only saves time but also reduces unnecessary paperwork, allowing customs stakeholders like Ms. Niro to focus on efficient service delivery.

Simply put, she says,

This system saved me time and papers. Now I don’t have to finish the paper or make two set of it (duplicate) and bring it with a flash drive to custom office. I can simply scan the necessary documents with the form and send it online and I just go back in the system to see if its ready for payment and go onwards from there.” ASYCUDA has been a game-changer for Ms. Niro in more ways than one. “I can now work from anywhere with an internet connectionit’s liberating!” The flexibility afforded by ASYCUDA allows her to seamlessly manage customs clearance processes, transcending geographical boundaries.

But it doesn’t stop there.

In Ms. Niro’s narrative, ASYCUDA isn’t merely a system; it’s a catalyst for efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction—a testament to the power of innovation in simplifying complex processes.

The efficient and cost-effective system is even keeping our clients happy given that they also save money and clearances are faster than before,” she said.

Ms. Rushlyn Ueki, a declarant at Surangel & Sons Company, also highlighted her journey following the transformation. Ms. Ueki and her team were learning to grasp the system while at the same time trying to clear shipments for their clients on time.

With ASYCUDA, things have really changed. Before it took us a week to clear all shipments and now it takes us only a couple of days,” Ms. Ueki added.

“Given our high standards of compliance, our company is on Green Lane now, and the processes are even faster. We don’t need to keep checking and waiting for validation. We can just process and we are ready to pay. This system saves us time and money.” she further elaborated.

Photo: Staff of Surangel & Sons Company (From Left) Dastin Darius, Declarant – Rushlyn Ueki, Jennifer O. Ingais, and Kimberly Elarionoff.

The impact of ASYCUDA is tangible. Following the January 2024 launch of the ASYCUDAWorld system, Palau witnessed a remarkable 53% increase in customs revenue by mid-March, compared to the same period last year.

This transformation was made possible through the European Union (EU)-funded Improving Pacific Islands Customs and Trade (IMPACT) project, implemented by UNCTAD.

About KRW Company: KRW Company is a customs broker company based out of Koror, Palau, a central area where about 70% of the commercial establishments are situated.

About Surangel & Sons Company: Surangel and Sons Co. is a diverse and thriving corporation located in the Republic of Palau.

About ASYCUDAWorld: ASYCUDAWorld is a cutting-edge customs management system by UN Trade and Development, aimed at simplifying trade and customs processes.

About the IMPACT Project: Funded by the European Union, the IMPACT project seeks to enhance customs operations through technological advancements and capacity building.

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Migration Management Course Empowers Palauan Government Stakeholders

Koror, Palau – The Republic of Palau tackled its unique migration challenges head-on with a three-day Migration Management Course held from May 7-9, 2024 at the Palau Royal Resort. Organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) bringing in key stakeholders from the Coordinated Border Management Working Group (CBMWG) as well as other partner agencies from NEMO, MHRCTD, and MOS, the course aimed to address critical issues surrounding migration governance and policy development.

Palau faces distinct migration dynamics due to its geography, economic status, climate change vulnerabilities, and the Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States. Despite the potential benefits migration could bring to Palau’s development, the absence of national policies has delayed effective management of migration trends and outcomes.

In response, the “Building Bridges” project, initiated in 2023, aimed to develop a comprehensive national migration policy for Palau. This endeavor seeks to integrate findings form the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Governance Indicators exercise and prioritize gender considerations. The resulting policy will align with Palau’s broader development strategies, including the National Policy and the Palau Development Plan.

The recent capacity-building training, drawing upon IOM’s “Essential of Migration Management” program, equipped CBMWG members and stakeholders with tools to actively engage in policy formulation. Facilitated by IOM experts, participants gained insights into key migration issues such as labor migration, climate change adaptation, and diaspora engagement.

The workshop’s objectives included fostering a distinct understanding of migration’s dual nature as both a challenge and an opportunity, and empowering stakeholders to contribute effectively to policy development and implementation. Participants left the training prepared to collaborate across government agencies, civil society, and international organizations to advance Palau’s migration governance agenda.

With a holistic and participatory approach emphasizing shared expertise and collective learning, the course ensured that the participants were actively engaged and primed to drive positive change in Palau’s migration landscape.

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Government of Japan’s Digital Agency Expands Collaborative Partnership with Government of Palau

Koror, Palau: A delegation from the Government of Japan’s Digital Agency has arrived in Palau to further support toward the establishment of an efficient, digitized border management system at the country’s ports of entry.

Following initial discussions with the Government of Japan in April 2023, representatives from Fiji, together with Palau and Vanuatu travelled to Tokyo in October of last year to discuss the implementation of a digital arrival card system to streamline border entry processes in all three countries.

This work is being undertaken with support from the Government of Japan and its Integrated Border Management Project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project aims to support relevant agencies in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu in reinforcing their capacities, capabilities and systems for effective and efficient movement of travelers and cargo, and to strengthen links for data and knowledge sharing, inter-agency and cross-regional cooperation.

As part of its commitment to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision, the Government of Japan strives to promote unrestricted and resilient economic activity throughout the region. Recognizing the significance of digitalization, the Government of Japan is supporting the adoption of digital solutions for border management across the Pacific to advance economic growth.

UNDP and the Government of Japan’s support to Palau has been long-standing, with the Government of Palau having already developed a health declaration tool following the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has now requested a consultation with the Japan Digital Agency to discuss the rollout of an integrated Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) system and to also obtain technical advice on the development of the country’s first CIQ strategy.

Mr. John Tarkong Jr., Director of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Ministry of Finance, said the visit from Japan’s Digital Agency was timely since the Government of Palau recently introduced a QR code system to accelerate customs’ declaration process.  

“By further automating Palau’s passenger arrival card we are paving the way for a future characterized by a seamless entry experience, advanced data management, and robust security measures. This initiative will bolster the country’s immigration and security systems, and on behalf of those working within the border management space in Palau, I extend my gratitude to the Government of Japan for their support in this endeavor,” he said. 

Japan to Republic of Palau, His Excellency Hiroyuki Orikasa, provided opening remarks at the consolation and said:

“We are aware that Pacific Island countries, including Palau, are faced with issues in regard to foreigners coming into territories with illicit intentions, whose number has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. It is up to every one of us to protect the country and family members from the expansion of bad influences from abroad. Japan’s partnership with Palau, and the Pacific as a whole, is one underpinned by mutual trust and respect, and through this project we look forward to furthering genuine cooperation between key border management stakeholders in Palau and throughout the Pacific region to enhance regional peace and security.”

Director of the Government of Japan’s Digital Agency, Hiroyuki Kato, made note of the significance of the collaboration.

“It is our pleasure to share our experiences of Visit Japan Web and the work of Japan’s Digital Agency with Palau. While we are here to support government in advancing their digitization, we would also like to learn from Palau in terms of future improvements for Visit Japan Web. We are excited to be here and to see Palau and Japan working together,” he said.

Country Manager and Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP’s North Pacific Office, Kevin Petrini, said the project champions collaboration and knowledge sharing, with the visit by Japan’s Digital Agency providing a boost to Palau’s future border management activities.

“UNDP has not only facilitated the exchange of expertise between Palau and Japan but has also played a crucial role in ensuring that the digital transformation we envision is inclusive and accessible to all. This collaborative effort, underpinned by UNDP’s guidance, stands as a testament to the potential of international cooperation in harnessing the power of technology for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

The consultation concluded on 3 April, with this work also supported by the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

WCO Membership

Palau joins the World Customs Organization as the 186th Member

Today, the International Customs community rejoices as it receives an official communication from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifying of the deposit by the Republic of Palau of its instrument of accession to the Convention Establishing a Customs Co-operation Council on 2 February 2024. This pivotal step ushers Palau into the World Customs Organization (WCO) as its 186th Member, signaling a new era of international cooperation for this Pacific Island nation.

Nestled in the southwest corner of Micronesia, Palau is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and strategic location in the western Pacific. By joining the WCO, Palau not only reinforces its commitment to enhancing its Customs administration but also positions itself as a key player in the Asia/Pacific region, joining ongoing efforts to secure and facilitate international trade. 

The WCO, with its mission to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Customs administrations worldwide, welcomes Palau’s membership as a testament to the Organization’s growing influence and reach. It is a step towards fostering better cooperation in the region, enhancing economic security, and promoting sustainable development through improved Customs practices. 

This membership opens the door to numerous opportunities for Palau to engage in knowledge sharing and benefit from capacity-building support, and international cooperation, enabling it to be a more active participant in global efforts to facilitate trade and ensure supply chain security through effective and efficient Customs administration. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Palau into the international Customs family,” said Ian Saunders, Secretary General of the WCO. “Palau’s unique geographic and cultural characteristics bring a valuable and diverse perspective to our Organization. In line with the theme of this year, this new partnership will infuse our efforts with fresh insights and push us to seek for innovative solutions to better serve Members. We look forward to working closely together in the years to come.”

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Palau Implements ASYCUDAWorld

A ceremony was held on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at the Palau Royal Resort for the launching of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) for recording of inbound and outbound cargos of the country.

The ceremony was graced by President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. alongside Minister Kaleb Udui, Jr. and Director John Tarkong, Jr. of Customs and Border Control who will head the operational system.

Funded by the European Union, ASYCUDA marks a significant step forward in Palau’s trade and customs administration. This integrated system automates international trade and transport operations brining Palau in line with global standards and facilitating smoother interactions with financial and economic partners.

“This system will incentivize investments in Palau,” President Whipps stated during the ceremony highlighting the system’s potential to boost Palau’s economy.

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Extensive ASYCUDAWorld Training for Customs Officers in Palau

The Republic of Palau is committed to reforming its customs and trade procedures by rolling out ASYCUDA’s automated customs system. ASYCUDAWorld is expected to increase customs revenue and shorten clearance times. It will reduce paperwork and trade related costs while increasing transparency. To ensure a successful and sustainable shift to the new system, a well-informed and trained workforce is essential.

In light of this, customs officials from the Republic of Palau, are being provided extensive training to better understand ASYCUDAWorld ahead of the digitalization of the country’s customs operations. The training is being implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Improving Pacific Islands Customs and Trade (IMPACT) project, funded by the European Union. It equips customs officials; traders; importers and exporters; agents; and carriers, with the skills required to efficiently use the system.

The first training took place from 20 to 30 March 2023, upskilling 31 officers from customs and 14 external stakeholders. A second training was held from 31 July to 17 August 2023 and involved 33 customs officers and 46 external stakeholders. A third training to 31 customs officers was held from 16 to 31 October 2023. All trainings were delivered by UNCTAD experts alongside the ASYCUDA National Project Team at Customs Headquarters in Koror, Palau, and consisted of two, three-hour sessions per day.

A fourth training is scheduled for December 2023 and will be open to private stakeholder entities, such as importers, exporters, agents and carriers.

The Director for the Republic of Palau Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Mr. John Tarkong Jr. said, “At this stage, we have successfully completed the third round of trainings for customs officers. The feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive. It was noticeable that after the first two sessions, our officers were well acquainted with the system and the new processes. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the training approach and the dedication of the ASYCUDA National Project Team members to adapt to the new system.”

He added, “There will be an increase towards the effective collection of customs revenues and data. Additionally, reduced processing times and increased government revenues are also projected from this customs automation, modernization and reform project. With almost half of customs administrations around the world now relying on a common automated platform to support their respective customs clearance operations, it is important to realize the impact and benefits this will have on Palau and why Palau embarked on this project.”

Ms. Ashley Adelbai, who has worked at Palau Customs for a decade, said “It was enlightening to see how technology can replace traditional customs operations and provide a lot of benefits. There will be a significant reduction in paperwork, which will not only save our time but also reduce the chance of manual errors. Additionally, the ability to view and manage documents in one centralized place will make my daily tasks easier to manage.”

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MoU Strengthens Palau’s Resolve in Combating Human Trafficking

Palau, November 06, 2023 – In a pivotal move towards for­tifying Palau’s commitment to combating human trafficking, the Office of the Vice President and the Ministry of Justice, led by the Honorable Vice President and Minister of Justice, J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, joined hands with Minister of Finance, Kaleb Udui, Jr., Director of the Bureau of Customs ·and Border Protection, John Tarkong, Jr., and Acting Chief of Division of Transnational Crime, Lt. Rickley Antonio, to sign a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on November 02, 2023.

This historic MOU signifies the collective dedication of these key government bodies to defining their roles and sharing vital information for the effec­tive execution of Palau’s Anti­Human Trafficking Program. The signing ceremony took place at the Vice President’s Office Conference Room and marked a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

The primary objective of this MOU is to establish a com­mon understanding and a comprehensive framework for collaboration between the Ministry of Justice, particularly its Anti­Human Trafficking unit, and the Ministry of Finance, encompassing its Division of Immigration. Together, these parties aim to bolster Palau’s anti-human trafficking program.

The MOU focuses on formalizing procedures and fostering a unified understanding between the Ministry of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit and the Ministry of Finance’s Division of Immigration. This synergy is vital to enable effective law enforcement and to eliminate potential vulner­abilities that human traffickers may exploit. The MOU outlines key strategies, including monitoring high-risk countries and closely scrutinizing visa applications, extensions, departures, and other immigration data to identify patterns indicative of human trafficking activities.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice, through its Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, commits to providing timely information to the Division of immigration regarding any known or suspected human trafficking patterns. This collaboration ensures that Division of Immigration officers are well-informed about the signs and signals of human trafficking in the course of their duties. It also assists the Division of immigration in shaping their policies and processes and facilitates seamless communication through up-to-date contact details for all Anti-Human Trafficking Unit officers.

This MOU is not only a symbol of unwavering commitment to eradicating human trafficking in Palau but also a testament to the government’s dedication to the safety and well-being of its citizens and residents. It paves the way for a stronger and more coordinated effort against this grave issue that affects societies worldwide.

For media inquiries, please call 488-3198.

Press-Release

Refresher Training on Rules of Origin Regional Workshop: Strengthening Expertise for Trade Excellence

NUKUALOFA, Tonga –The Rules of Origin Workshop continues to play a crucial role in strengthening customs and trade related knowledge and information among customs experts.

A comprehensive four-day training on Pacific trade agreements, such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA), Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) with the European Union (EU), and the United Kingdom Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), was completed by 25 customs officials from 13 Pacific Island Countries at the Rules of Origin Workshop in Nukualofa, Tonga.

Importantly, participants learned practical skills to apply these regulations successfully in their regular trade and customs operations, reducing compliance issues. The workshop was organized by Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) in partnership with the EU funded Improving Pacific Islands Customs and Trade (IMPACT) Project implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and with the PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU). The Center for Customs and Excise Studies (CCES) from Charles Sturt University, Australia facilitated the workshop from 16-20 October 2023.

Speaking during a session at the workshop, the Trade Correspondent/Programme Manager of the European Union for the Pacific, Mr. Massimo DIOMEDI CAMASSEI said, “The European Union was proud to support initiatives such as the Rules of Origin workshop because it plays a pivotal role in promoting economic development, trade facilitation and regional cooperation in the pacific. The European Union is committed to fostering sustainable growth in the region and was delighted to witness the enthusiasm of more Pacific countries expressing interest in joining iEPA.”

Head of the Oceania Customs Organisation, Ms. Nancy T. Oraka stated, “The Refresher Training Workshop on Rules of Origin has been a transformative experience for our participants. In an ever-evolving global trade landscape, this workshop equipped them with the knowledge and skills to navigate complexities confidently.”

The Operations and Secretariat Manager at the PACER Plus Implementation Unit, Ms. Laisiana Tugaga, said, “The workshop represents a critical step forward in our mission to enhance regional trade and economic development through the implementation of the Rules of origin. The engagement of all the participants highlights their commitment and we are excited about the opportunities for the Pacific region.”

While expressing gratitude toward the workshop, a participant from the Republic of Palau, Ms. Joline Spesungel stated, “This workshop has provided us with valuable insights into the practical aspects of the iEPA Rules of Origin, and see this as a crucial tool for boosting our trade relations with our neighboring nations.”

Moreover, Mr. Philip Ruben, representing Papua New Guinea at the workshop stated, “As a representative from PNG, I am thrilled to have been part of this workshop. The iEPA Rules of Origin will play a pivotal role in facilitating trade and economic growth in our region. The discussions held here have equipped us with the necessary tools to implement these rules effectively, and we are committed to making the most of this opportunity.”

The OCO, through the EU funded IMPACT Project implemented by UNCTAD, PPIU and CCES extend their sincere gratitude to all participants, speakers, and partners for their unwavering support in making this workshop a resounding success.

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Media Contact:
Darryl Ikbal DarrylI@ocosec.org