New Zealand has signed a contract with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that will help strengthen, harmonise and modernise border security systems and procedures in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The core customs processes in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Tonga and Tuvalu will move to the latest web-based Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA World) programme co-funded by New Zealand and Australia.

ASYCUDA is a computer system that will improve border management in an integrated way. The system will increase the efficiency of customs cargo clearance, minimising the risk of fraud and maximising revenue collection, and facilitating trade. It will involve transparent and simplified processes for businesses trading in the Pacific, thereby reducing transaction costs.

For customs workers on the frontline, New Zealand is also funding a passenger processing function incorporated in the software system, which will improve security screening at the border.

The six countries join the rest of the region in adopting ASYCUDA, which will also cut down the use of paper in customs operations, still common in these Pacific Island countries.

Incorporating ASYCUDA contributes to New Zealand and Australia’s commitment to spend 20 percent of Total Official Development Assistance on Pacific aid for trade under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus).

The six countries are signatories to PACER Plus, along with Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia.

The PACER Plus Agreement committed New Zealand and Australia to support Pacific signatories to become more active partners in and benefit from regional and global trade.

More information on the PACER Plus Agreement is available at www.mfat.govt.nz/pacer