MANY of the problems in the Asia-Pacific region can be overcome if all agencies involved in cargo movement have clearly defined goals, according to an official of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Mr Kevin Donovan, a former New Zealand customs officer who now manages UNCTAD's regional office of Automated System for Customs Date (ASYCUDA) in Kuala Lumpur, suggested that New Zealand's customs system be examined as a model. ''At the (New Zealand) government's direction the Customs Department was forced to review all procedures and to assist this process of export and to keep costs to a minimum to remain competitive,'' he said. Tabling a paper entitled Customs' Role in Trade and Transport Facilitation at a recent conference, Mr Donovan said the government agreed to a purpose statement which set out the reasons for the existence of customs. Besides protecting New Zealand's borders by exercising controls over the import and export of goods and entry and exit of people, the body also acted as agent at the border for many other government organisations. The customs also administered at the border the government's economic, tariff and trade-policy related objectives besides protecting, collecting and accounting for customs duties, excise duties and other revenue charges. It also policed the country's international obligations and statutes concerning prohibited and restricted goods, including drugs, pornography, internationally endangered species and other illegal flora and fauna. Mr Donovan said all the customs procedures and activities were guided by agreed principles that the department would achieve its purpose with minimum intervention to legitimate trade and commerce and to legitimate movement of goods and people. Mr Donovan said the department estimated that it would process 725,000 import and export entries a year, conduct 30 field audits of imports and/or customs brokers. He said it estimated that it would process all import entries not selected for compliance checks within target time scales - air and sea freight 24 hours, import clearance documents four hours, parcels post 24 hours and electronically lodged entries fourhours. Mr Donovan said the department estimated 300 seizure notices would be issued for prohibited and restricted goods. He said UNCTAD had developed a customs software package which was donated to member countries. The ASYCUDA package was now running or in the process of being installed in more than 50 countries to assist authorities in checking customs compliance and in alleviating delays and problems in the movement of both people and cargoes.