VCN- The 30th meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs, held via video conference on 8-10 June 2021, ended in success.
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A view of the meeting
The meeting was chaired by Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, Commissioner of the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs and attended by the 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) and the ASEAN Secretariat. Deputy Director General of General Department of Vietnam Customs, Mai Xuan Thanh, and departments’ leaders attended the meeting.
The meeting focused on determination to achieve integration goals set in the Strategic Plans of Customs Development (SPCDs) 2016 – 2020, ensuring supply chain security and post-Covid recovery measures.
The agenda of the meeting included 12 main subjects, focusing on the achievements in the ASEAN Economic Ministers meetings, the implementation results of the Coordinating Committee on Customs, the Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group, the Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group, the Customs Capacity Building Working Group, the ASEAN Single Window Steering Committee, and dialogues with partners and private sector including: Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the USABC and the EUABC.
In the three days of the meeting, the ASEAN DGs of Customs commended the achievements and progress in the completion of the SPCDs 2016 – 2020 with an implementation rate of 99 percent and ranked Customs with the highest output delivery of 78 percent under Characteristic A, a Highly Integrated and Cohesive Economy, as indicated in the final report of the Mid-Term Review from the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 (MTR AEC BP 2025).
The ASEAN DGs of Customs also welcomed the work progress of the first five months in implementation of SPCDs 2021-2025 reported by the Coordinating Committee on Customs (CCC); the Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) and its sub-working groups, namely the Technical Sub-Working Group on Classification (TSWGC), the Sub-Working Group on ASEAN Customs Transit System (SWG-ACTS), as well as the Sub-Working Group on ASEAN AEO MRA (SWG-AAMRA); the Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group (CECWG); the Customs Capacity Building Working Group (CCBWG); and the ASEAN Single Window Steering Committee (ASWSC).
The ASEAN DGs of Customs also discussed and provided guidance on the issues and concerns raised by working groups.
Regarding the AHTN 2022, the ASEAN DGs of Customs appreciated the TSWGC’s efforts in finding ways and tools to ensure the ongoing review of AHTN 2017 and the development of AHTN 2022 version via virtual meetings with scheduled implementation in January 2022.
All AMS were urged to complete and implement AHTN 2022 in a timely fashion. The AHTN ensures uniformity, transparency and simplification in classification of goods in the region.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs welcomed the implementation of the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) by the six Participating Member States (PMS), including Vietnam on 2 November 2020, and full ratification of Protocol 2 (Designation of Frontier Posts) of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit by all 10 AMS.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs appreciated the great effort and commitment of the ACTS PMS to convince businesses to use ACTS in the movement of goods in transit by road even amid COVID-19.
The PMS were encouraged to work closely with their respective transport authorities to ensure swift transition to single truck movements (from origin to destination) in the post-pandemic environment.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs also welcomed the initiatives being explored to enhance ACTS, raise awareness and promote utilisation of ACTS with the private sector and the Feasibility Study to implement the ACTS along the Borneo corridor with the support of EU ARISE Plus.
Regarding the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme and ASEAN AEO Mutual Recognition Arrangement (AAMRA), the ASEAN DGs of Customs were pleased to note work progress in the establishment of the national AEO programmes for the remaining AMS.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs also commended the work underway on the establishment of an ASEAN AEO MRA on a pathfinder basis involving seven AMS with operational AEO programmes for the first phase, targeted by 2023.
For public security and protection of the society, the ASEAN DGs of Customs noted the training modules on the plastic waste dumping were finalised and would be used and disseminated at the ASEAN Regional Workshop on Combating Plastic Waste Dumping. The CECWG will initiate cooperation and information sharing with the ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW) to develop minimum standard requirements for plastic waste importation.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs also noted the CECWG would be exploring crosscutting cooperation with the ASEAN Network of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement Experts (ANIEE), particularly on intelligence information sharing on IPR enforcement and capacity building.
Regarding this content, Deputy Director General Mai Xuan Thanh said Vietnam Customs and customs administrations of AMS must cooperate to effectively combat the plastic waste dumping.
For joint operations on illicit tobacco, the ASEAN DGs of Customs commended work between ASEAN and Australia to identify suspicious sea cargo and land border consignments to implement effective local countermeasures to disrupt the global supply of illicit tobacco through the Task Force on Illicit Tobacco Project Portcullis 2021.
Deputy Director General Mai Xuan Thanh said AMS also needed to consider measures to prevent tobacco smuggling from ASEAN Member States to ASEAN Dialogue Partners.
For knowledge based service (KBS), the ASEAN DGs of Customs were pleased to note the plan for the KBS website as an online information platform for ASEAN Customs administrations wherein ASEAN Customs officers can contribute through the submission of customs-related articles or other written articles to accelerate exchange of information and interaction among ASEAN Customs officers.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs welcomed the live operation of the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document (ACDD) which started on 31 December 2020 among Cambodia, Myanmar and Singapore, followed by Malaysia and Thailand on 31 March 2021. They are looking forward for the remaining AMS to join live operation within 2021 and look forward to the expansion of the ASW to accommodate the exchange of additional documents and exchange of trade documents with ASEAN Dialogue Partners.
At the meeting, the ASEAN DGs of Customs held consultations with the WCO for better understanding of priority programmes, strategic directions, and capacity building programmes of the WCO in relation to the ASEAN customs community.
In addition, the ASEAN DGs of Customs held consultation sessions with the Customs Administrations of Australia, China, Japan and South Korea to discuss recent developments, share best practices, and strengthen Customs-to-Customs cooperation in the region.
The ASEAN DGs of Customs engaged the private sector, namely the EUASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), to strengthen customs-to-business partnerships in the region.
At the consultation session with US-ABC, a representative of Intel Corporation highly appreciated the cooperation of Vietnam Customs in the pilot implementation of the information exchange program between Customs and businesses via blockchain technology.
Deputy Director General Mai Xuan Thanh appreciated the results of the pilot phase and hoped the two sides would cooperate more effectively in the near future.
By Nu Bui/Ngoc Loan