The Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) held its first meeting of the year on 27-29 January 2015 in Clark, Philippines.
The SCCP Members reviewed the SCCP 2014 outcomes, reporting specific achievements such as the adoption of the APEC Customs 3M Strategic Framework; the work related to the implementation of the WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement; the expansion of the Single Window processing the region; and the growing partnership with the business community; among others.
Another relevant outcome of the SCCP work in 2014 was the adoption of “cross-border e-commerce” as a new item in the group’s Collective Action Plan. As part of this effort, SCCP conducted and analysed the Survey on APEC Cross-border E-commerce, which summarised the status quo of law and legislation, supervision and control, law enforcement activities in APEC region with regard to cross border e-commerce. SCCP also discussed during 2014, the need for capacity building programs in the future and agreed to organize a seminar in the near future to promote experience sharing and capacity building on the issue. The workshop is expected to be held in September this year.
Current Actions and Projects
Promoting Connectivity and Trade Facilitation
Implementation of the WTO Agreement to Facilitate Trade
The Agreement to Facilitate Trade (ATF) is an agreement among World Trade Organization (WTO) Members that aims to reduce red-tape in cross-border trade by simplifying the customs and border procedures of WTO countries. When the ATF is implemented, businesses can expect to see trade costs decrease by 10 to 15 per cent, according to OECD estimates, and a boost of more than US$1 trillion to the world economy, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The SCCP is currently updating each other on the latest developments and experiences toward the early and full implementation of the ATF. SCCP also plans to review the operation and implementation of the ATF which will take place four years after its entry into force, and to explore the possibility of implementing non-binding or best endeavor provisions of the ATF.
Since 2007, SCCP has implemented ground-breaking work to establish Single Window systems for streamlining the export-import process via an online system that links all government agencies responsible for permits, certificates and fees. To date, 14 APEC economies have implemented various stages of the Single Window system as a result of SCCP capacity building projects. SCCP plans to continue providing capacity building and technical support for member economies to establish and improve their individual Single Window with the least delay possible. In addition, SCCP is also working toward realizing interoperability of Single Window systems amongst APEC member economies. For more information, see an APEC Bulletin article highlighting SCCP's accomplishments on Single Window.
Goods are defined to be in customs transit when crossing into the territory of an economy as part of their journey to another final destination. For example, this can occur when goods are transported by land via truck or train through a neighboring territory. In many cases, goods in transit end up being delayed unnecessarily. As such, SCCP is currently working on addressing the lack of regional cross-border customs transit arrangements between economies – considered as chokepoint 8 in the APEC Supply Chain Connectivity Action Plan.
SCCP members are currently working on formulating guidelines for APEC Customs transit to address issues including lack of harmonization among APEC economies in granting preferential treatment to goods through third-party territories. Moreover, SCCP is working on carrying out capacity building, implementing customs transit guidelines, conducting regular evaluations, and setting up uniform arrangements of origin certification for transit goods so as to create a facilitated environment for customs clearance and more foreseeable transit rules for international trade operators, thereby improving the effectiveness and security of the supply chain.
In addition, SCCP organized a workshop for government and private sector experts to share best practices for regional cross-border customs-transit arrangements. The final objective of the workshop is to draft relevant guidelines. This Workshop was held on 10-11 August 2014 in Beijing, on the margins of the Third APEC Senior Officials' Meeting.
Enhancing Law Enforcement Capacity and Trade Order
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection
SCCP is currently working on increasing technical exchange and experience sharing among members, and improving law enforcement capacity on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) border protection for Customs of member economies. The SCCP is also working on setting up a long-term mechanism for research and training on IPR border protection.
APEC Workshop on IPR Border Enforcement
The APEC Workshop on IPR Border Enforcement was held from 11-13 November 2014 in Hong Kong, China. Participants gained knowledge from the sharing of experiences and best practices on IPR Border Enforcement, investigation techniques and capabilities, cooperation with right holders and raising public awareness on results of customs enforcement at the border.
Conducting Closer Cooperation with the Private Sector to Enhance Trade Security
Authorized Economic Operator
The Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) concept is one of the main building blocks within the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of Standards (SAFE) to support secure trade. Operators can be accredited by Customs as an AEO when they prove to have high quality internal processes that will prevent goods in international transport to be tampered with. This facilitates trade for low risk operators and ensures Customs can focus inspection resources on more high-risk parties.
The SCCP is continuing to carry out capacity building for the economies that have not established the AEO program and further advancing the formulation of the minimum standards for AEO enterprises, including the SMEs. SCCP also is working on promoting AEO mutual recognition between member economies, and developing the benefit list of the AEO Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) to further facilitate trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
Study on AEO Best Practices
A study on AEO Best Practices in the APEC region, which will be undertaken by the APEC Policy Support Unit. This study will look for the following outputs:
(1) assessment of the existing AEO programs of APEC member economies, including an analysis of their technical design elements and features;
(2) assessment of AEO best practices and recommendations on enhancing the interoperability and expansion of the APEC network of AEOs (MRAs);
(3) survey of APEC AEOs e.g. type of entity (exporter, importer, broker, forwarder, etc.), sector, size (large, medium, small);
(4) stock-taking of APEC AEO capacity building activities; and,
(5) development of an APEC Best Practice Guidelines on AEO.
SCCP is working to increase awareness of risk control in e-commerce in the APEC Customs community and to promote cooperation with the business community by elevating the level of information exchange on best practices. SCCP is also strengthening cooperation between APEC economies and the private sector, encouraging self-discipline and compliance from the private sector, and establishing safe and efficient order on cross-border e-commerce in order to promote trade and economic development in APEC.
Applying Technology to Enhance the Efficiency of the Customs Control
Manifest Exchange between Border Customs
SCCP is encouraging experience exchange between members that have carried out border customs cooperation and promoting manifest data exchange between land bordering customs in the Asia-Pacific region. A manifest refers to information about the means of transport for goods. SCCP is also working on conducting a feasibility study on the uniformity of cargo manifest, reaching consensus on the data elements, format and language of the manifest, and promoting the adoption of uniform cargo manifest among APEC economies
In addition to the above-mentioned key tasks, the SCCP will continue to push forward other on-going projects including Trade Recovery and Time Release Study in order to further simplify and harmonize regional customs procedures as well as to ensure that goods and services move efficiently, effectively and safely through the region. The SCCP will continue to work closely with the private sector through the APEC Customs Business Dialogue (ACBD) and the Virtual Working Group (VWG) to achieve its priorities.
In 2007 the SCCP adopted the Working towards the Implementation of Single Window within APEC Economies: Single Window Development Report and the APEC SCCP Single Window Strategic Plan . The Development Report delivered a comprehensive snapshot of the border regulatory environment and single window related activities in the APEC region. The Strategic Plan provided a framework for the development of single window systems in the APEC region.
After three years of work on this initiative (2007-2009), the SCCP endorsed the Single Window Implementation Guide in August 2009. This guide was delivered by the Single Window Working Group with the assistance of public and private sector stakeholders. Its purpose is to assist economies in the design, building and implementation of a single window system. It provides a comprehensive list of single window related components and elements, with supporting information. It also provides links to available standards which promote a common understanding of what an international trade single window is and what it can deliver. Economies using the guide will reduce the time and labour cost usually spent on research during the design and implementation phases.
In 2010 the SCCP conducted a review of the extent of implementation of single window initiatives in each member economy. This review has revealed that 13 of 21 APEC economies have developed single window systems and 5 economies have single windows systems currently under development; each economy has actively used international standards such as the UN/EDIFACT and WCO Data Model in developing its single window system which will aid in the seamless data sharing between single window systems.
Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)
In September 2009 the SCCP established an AEO Working Group to address the development of AEO programmes and tackle the divergent array of existing AEO programmes. The objective of the AEO Working Group is two-fold: 1. Work towards the establishment of AEO programs, of equal caliber, within each of the APEC economies, and 2. Encourage mutual recognition arrangements of AEO programs amongst interested economies within the Asia-Pacific region.
Under phase one of its Action Plan, in September 2010 the AEO Working Group produced an “ Authorized Economic Operator Program Compendium ” to assist in developing an AEO program by each APEC economy . Phase two activities of the Working Group will focus on Development of an AEO Best practices guideline with elements of AEO programs divided elements that are suitable for harmonization amongst economies and those that are not suitable for harmonization. The final stage of activities under the AEO Action Plan will be capacity building.
The SCCP is working with the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) on a new action plan, the Supply-Chain (SC) Connectivity Framework . Under the framework, eight chokepoints have been identified as impediments to trade in the APEC region; four of these are issues of concern to the SCCP:
- Chokepoint 1: Lack of transparency/awareness of the full scope of regulatory issues affecting logistics; lack of awareness and coordination among government agencies on policies affecting logistics sector; absence of single contact point or champion agency on logistics matters
- Chokepoint 4: Inefficient clearance of goods at customs; lack of coordination among border agencies, especially relating to clearance of regulated goods at border
- Chokepoint 5: Burdensome customs documentation and other procedures, including for preferential trade
- Chokepoint 8: Lack of regional cross-border customs-transit arrangements
The SCCP has agreed to work collaboratively with the CTI by undertaking a series of actions under the SCI Action Plans which have been developed to alleviate the negative impacts of these chokepoints on supply chains. The SCCP actions include work in the areas of Single Window development, Advance Rulings, Immediate Release of Consignments by Customs, Time Release Surveys, and implementation of the revised Kyoto convention.
Trade Facilitation Action Plan
The SCCP played an important role in the APEC Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP) which was adopted by APEC in 2002. The TFAP's goal of achieving a reduction in trade transaction costs by five percent across the APEC region between 2002 and 2006 has been realised.
APEC's Second Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP 2) was adopted in 2007 and is now nearing completion. Its goal is a further reduction in trade transaction costs by five percent in the period 2007-2010. The SCCP is working on its implementation and on the measurement of its success with the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI).
Customs Business Dialogue
The SCCP held its annual APEC Customs-Business Dialogue (ACBD) in Tokyo, Japan on 13 September 2010. The objective of the ACBD is to foster understanding and cooperation between customs authorities and the business sector in the APEC region in order to facilitate trade. The 2010 Dialogue focused on: Customs and Business Cooperation to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade; Trade Facilitation through Utilization of ICT and Modern Technology; and, Customs and Business Cooperation for Enhancement of Border Enforcement on IPR.
APEC Customs Directors-General/Commissioners Meeting
The year 2010 is a milestone for APEC in a sense that it is when the industrialized economies committed themselves to achieve the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment. Baring this into mind, APEC Customs Directors- General /Commissioners Meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan on 14 September following the ACBD to evaluate 15-years-of-works of the SCCP comprehensively and discuss direction on future activities of the APEC Customs administrations at a higher level. Through the intensive discussions by the head of APEC Customs, eight priorities to be promoted through the SCCP activities were agreed and publicized as the statement of the Chair.