VCN- On June 11, the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting was held in Vientiane, Laos. The meeting was chaired by Bounpaseuth Sikounlabout, Acting Director General of General Department of Lao Customs. All 10 Customs authorities of ASEAN member countries and the Secretariat attended the meeting. The Vietnam Customs delegation was led by Deputy Director General Hoang Viet Cuong.
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At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Lao Ministry of Finance Thiphakone Chanthavongsa mentioned Laos’ opinion on ASEAN cooperation and its commitments in promoting customs cooperation towards a sustainable ASEAN development community and bring prosperity to ASEAN people. According to the meeting programme, the ASEAN Customs Directors General will approve the deployment of ASEAN customs cooperation and integration implemented by ASEAN customs committees and working groups, including Customs Coordination Committee, working group on procedure and trade facilitation, working group on Customs enforcement and compliance, working group on Custom capacity building and ASEAN Single Window Steering Committee.
The meeting will consider and assess key fields of ASEAN cooperation and integration. Firstly, the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS), this system aims to achieve a seamless flow of goods with mean of transport that only a declaration and a guarantee is required to facilitate and promote trade growth in ASEAN. With the approval of all 10 countries, Protocol 7 on ASEAN Customs Transit System under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Goods in Transit (AFAFGIT) officially took effect.
Currently, four countries (including Vietnam) have completed the approval of Protocol 2. These countries have prepared infrastructure and legal frame work to pilot ACTS at North - South and East - West corridors before December 2019 and will connect in both corridors for official implementation.
Secondly, the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement of Authorised Economic Operator programme (ASEAN MRA-AEO), the establishment of the AEO programme has improved supply chain security and trade facilitation based on WCO SAFE Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate global trade. The ASEAN MRA-AEO can reduce regulatory barriers in international trade, enhance ASEAN's concentration and reduce trade transaction costs.
Vietnam and five ASEAN member countries have implemented national AEO programes while the remaining member countries are in the initial development phase with the goal that all countries will implement AEO by 2020. The ASEAN Frontier Strategy Group (FSG) has considered the ASEAN MRA-AEO’s feasibility and approved the establishment of the Sub-Group to develop ASEAN MRA-AEO by 2020.
Thirdly, the survey on “the trade facilitation in ASEAN related to the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Customs Organization”. The Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) has surveyed the private sector to review measures for trade facilitation and the implementation of TFA-WCO. The survey was conducted according to the provisions listed in the WTO-TFA.
ASEAN Customs authorities appreciated achievements of the CPTFWG in conducting surveys and providing an overview of the private sector's view on the implementation ASEAN TFA and identifying sectors that should be improved to enhance regional trade facilitation.
Fourthly, the ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN), AHTN was established to harmonise tariff nomenclature and to ensure the consistency, transparency, and simplification in goods classification. ASEAN Customs authorities sent experts to participate in the Technical Sub-Working Group on Classification (TSWGC) to review AHTN 2017 and the review has been implemented together with the revised draft HS 2022. ASEAN Customs authorities are proposing and encouraging the coordination with ministries, sectors and relevant parties to develop AHTN 2022.
Fifthly, enhancing the capacity of customs officers in ASEAN. The capacity building activities of ASEAN member countries and cooperation with partners and private sector in various sectors has been promoted, in which focusing on AEO, new technology for trade facilitation, Customs enforcement, risk assessment of supply chain in Air Transport and Intellectual Property Rights.
It is expected that at this meeting, the Directors General will acknowledge and appreciate the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Customs Development (SPCD) for 2016-2020 and assign tasks to all Customs working groups for the SPCD’s new operation for 2021-2025.
The ASEAN Customs Directors General shall review the results achieved in the implementation of the ASEAN Single Window System (ASW): (i) the participation of Brunei Darussalam in direct exchange of C/O form in NSW on April 1, 2019 and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines are encouraged to participate in 2019; and (ii)the five countries that exchanged C/O form D including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia will pilot the exchange of customs documents such as ASEAN customs declaration document (ACDD) and electronic phytosanitary (e-Phyto) on ASW system in 2019.
The 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting will have consultations with leaders of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Australian Customs and Border Protection Force, leaders of China, Japan and South Korea Customs to strengthen customs cooperation in the region to facilitate trade and enforce customs management effectively.
ASEAN Customs Directors-General will also have consultations with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC)with the participation of Lao businesses, EU-ASEAN Business Council (EUABC) and the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) to strengthen Customs-Business partnerships in the region.
By Anh Tai/Ngoc Loan