ASEAN Customs joins efforts to create prosperity

VCN - Leaders of Customs agencies of ASEAN Member States discuss and give directions to join forces and efforts towards the goal of “A region of development and prosperity for all people”, “One ASEAN - One identity - One vision”.
Vietnam Customs effectively cooperates and integrates with ASEAN Customs Vietnam Customs effectively cooperates and integrates with ASEAN Customs
ASEAN Customs: “A region of development and prosperity for all people”, “One ASEAN – One identity – One vision” ASEAN Customs: “A region of development and prosperity for all people”, “One ASEAN – One identity – One vision”
Role of ASEAN Customs cooperation in economic integration Role of ASEAN Customs cooperation in economic integration

Realizing goals

ASEAN is currently among the regions with the most dynamic economies in the world. In addition, to expand global economic integration, ASEAN has been promoting the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries and territories, such as China, Japan, and South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong (China).

The starting point for regional economic integration is the decision to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) at the Fourth ASEAN Summit in 1992. In addition to tariff reduction, AFTA commitments also include removing non-tariff barriers and promoting trade facilitation, simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures to ensure trade flow among countries.

In particular, harmonizing customs procedures and narrowing customs management gap in the region based on the standards of the World Customs Organization (WCO) is one of the ASEAN’s key goals. The issue of regional cooperation on customs is determined to play a very key role in supporting the construction of AFTA aiming at facilitating trade among ASEAN members as well as realizing the goals of ASEAN’s long-term economic integration.

Overview of achievements in ASEAN Customs cooperation shows that regional and international cooperation and integration is an inevitable process and a key trend in the current context with a focus on economic openness, trade liberalization, to promote domestic resources and take advantage of external opportunities.

For a prosperous ASEAN community. Illustrated Photo
For a prosperous ASEAN community. Illustrated Photo

To realize ASEAN's vision of " “A region of development and prosperity for all people”, “One ASEAN - One identity - One vision”, building and developing a legal framework to strengthen deep cooperation in the field of customs in ASEAN is becoming increasingly important.

Along with the general trend of integration and development in the world, ASEAN always has timely solutions to encourage member countries to create maximum convenience for legal trade through strengthening customs cooperation. Currently, ASEAN Member States are making efforts to apply modern customs management techniques, especially the standards stated in the revised Kyoto Convention. As an active member, Vietnam Customs has implemented many activities in this cooperation program.

Accordingly, Vietnam Customs will host the 33rd ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting from June 4-6 on the island city of Phu Quoc in the southern province of Kien Giang. This is the fourth time Vietnam Customs has hosted the meeting as Chairman (in 1995, 2004 and 2014).

Ms. Nguyen Thi Viet Nga, Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department, Vietnam Customs, said that the conference is a forum for the ASEAN Customs community to strengthen dialogue and consultation with ASEAN partners to implement goals consistent with the economic development situation in the new period. In particular, the conference agenda focuses on programs and solutions to continue implement and fulfill the goals identified in the ASEAN Customs Development Strategic Plans for the 2021 - 2025 period

Comprehensive solid internal strength foundation

Looking back at the history of formation and development, ASEAN has early built and continuously improved the legal framework, creating a foundation for strategic, long-term cooperation and customs integration in the region, including documents such as: ASEAN Customs Code of Conduct signed by the Directors General of Customs in 1983, ASEAN Customs Agreement, Agreement on Building and Implementing the ASEAN Single Window, Protocol governing the implementation of the ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomeclature (AHTN), Protocol on customs transit system (ACTS)...

In 1995, the ASEAN Customs Code of Conduct was revised to reflect new developments in ASEAN, especially the AFTA issue. Through the Code, member States commit to facilitate intra-regional trade by simplifying and harmonizing trade procedures and enhancing regional cooperation in the field of customs.

In parallel with the Code of Conduct, the ASEAN Customs Agreement was signed at the first ASEAN Finance Ministers' Conference on March 1, 1997 to facilitate the intra-bloc trade. In 2012, to meet new requirements for customs cooperation in accelerating the implementation of AEC, new ASEAN Customs Agreement which was discussed and signed in the 16th Conference of The ASEAN Finance Ministers.

To clearly stipulate the commitment to implement and connect with the single window system of the member States in the region, the Agreement on the development and implementation of the ASEAN Single Window was signed in 2005 in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. The Agreement is the legal and technical foundation for customs of member States to directly exchange information and trade documents in the electronic environment, bringing regional connectivity to a new level.

Along with that, the Protocol on AHTN aims to create a legal basis for ASEAN Customs administrations to uniformly implement and increase transparency on goods classification issues in the region. In particular, the AHTN was reviewed according to the WCO list and issued and implemented uniformly by ASEAN countries under a 5-year cycle and from 2024 it will be a 6-year cycle.

To further facilitate the free flow of goods in the region by simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures from the departure, transit to destination managed through the ACTS, the ACTS protocol of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade Facilitation of Goods in Transit is the legal basis for ASEAN customs cooperation, established through negotiating and signing cooperation agreements, implementing initiatives and building joint management systems, which created a platform to promote regional customs cooperation across many fields and activities, achieving practical results.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Viet Nga, as the Chairmanship of ASEAN Customs for the 2024-2025 term, Vietnam Customs will make great effort to fulfill its responsibilities in actively coordinating and promoting member States to implement the roadmap on schedule with priority contents on single window, transit and mutual recognition of authorized economic operator; and encourage countries to exchange and update information, share experiences and lessons in the actual implementation process, narrowing the gap between member customs administrations.

Vietnam Customs actively coordinates with the ASEAN Secretariat to exchange and consult with partners and seek appropriate support resources in implementing ASEAN Customs' operational initiatives, especially for emerging contents related to customs control.

By Nu Bui/ Huyen Trang

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