News Item

Searching for a Secure Pacific

Industry Advice 10 Aug 2018

As Operations Manager for Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Secretariat, Tevita Tupou knows how challenging his role is. With a career background ranging across trade facilitation, tax issues, customs, enforcement, revenue mobilization, border security and trade issues spanning more than quarter of a century, Tevita’s experience is invaluable.

"People development is at the heart of what we do... we approach this by focusing on both Technical and Soft skills development. This was done and given the diversity that exists regionally. Programs are designed to bring out uniqueness in the membership and leverage off each others capability to achieve a common outcome beneficial to all."

"Secondly, progressive engagement between the private sector and customs is to ensure and enable a secure business environment that stimulates economic growth achieving national and regional competitiveness."

“While there are challenges among the different sectors, we all want the same thing, which is growth in our economies, and an adherence to our border security, revenue mobilisation, customs and tax issues,” says Tevita, who was General Manager Customs, National Manager Risk and Compliance and the Program Management Officer during his time at the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority from 1990-2015.

Tevita graduated from the University of Canberra in 2012 with a Masters in International Customs Law/Masters in International Revenue & Administrations, International Business, Trade and Tax Law.

In 2016 he was appointed as the OCO Operations Manager, with a role to coordinate and facilitate customs modernisation in the region. Finding a common ground between the private sector and regional organisations such as OCO is the key.

“The private sector sees things from a commercial perspective, but for us as regulators, it’s ensuring the policy issues and requirements of trade are mapped out clearly and adhered to,” says Tevita.

“Ideally, we always want a win-win for both parties and finding a common ground is often the key to establishing that.”

That’s where the strength of long-held relationships can often come through, says Tevita.

“There’s more chance of getting the information from an incoming ship two or three days ahead to prepare,” he says. “One thing I’ve learnt in my many years is the need to develop and nurture good, smart people who can then become good leaders. I heard plenty of them at the Pacific Wave Forum, which gave me hope that we’ll have a brighter future.”

The Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) Secretariat exists to help administrations align with customs’ international standards and best practice, leading to greater economic prosperity and increased boarder security.

In June last year OCO signed a three-year Grant Funding Agreement for FJ$2.49 Million with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT NZ).