Customs plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and facilitation of international trade. The APEC Customs Community’s efforts on simplification and harmonization of regional customs procedures has greatly contributed to the reduction of APEC trade transaction costs and improvement in supply chain performance amongst APEC economies. With the conclusion of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the reform of Customs procedures will be playing a more proactive and decisive role in the course of attaining Bogor Goals by 2020, injecting fresh momentum into the regional economic integration and trade facilitation.
APEC leaders in 2013 vowed to take measures including promoting Single Window systems to modernize Customs procedures in order to achieve the institutional connectivity thus to reach a seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated Asia Pacific. Accordingly, APEC 2013 Tasking Statement (for 2014) has identified the priorities of APEC Customs as improving supply chain connectivity and enhancing Customs procedures with emphasis on Single Window and Authorized Economic Operator. Customs are also tasked to function in people-to-people connection and wildlife trafficking.
To this end, we instruct the senior officials, based on the initiative of “Mutual Recognition of Control, Mutual Assistance of Enforcement and Mutual Sharing of Information”, to promote APEC Customs cooperation in a systematic approach to advance the following pressing tasks that are generally acknowledged by APEC economies:
1. Promoting Connectivity and Trade Facilitation
• Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation(ATF)
Short-term objectives: to update each other on the work done for the implementation of the ATF and share experience in this regard.
Long-term objectives: to prepare for the review of the operation and implementation of the ATF which will take place four(4) years after its entry into force, and to explore the possibility of implementing non-binding or best endeavor provisions of the ATF.
• Single Window
Short-term objectives: to continue providing capacity building and technical support for member economies to establish and improve their individual Single Window with the least delay possible.
Long-term objectives: to realize interoperability of Single Window systems amongst APEC member economies.
• Customs Transit
Short-term objectives: to work on Chokepoint 8, and formulate the 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.
Long-term objectives: to carry out capacity building, implement Customs transit guidelines, conduct regular evaluations, and set 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, improving the effectiveness and security of the supply chain.
2. Enhancing Law Enforcement Capacity and Trade Order
• IPR protection
Short-term objectives: to increase technical exchange and experience sharing among members, and improving law enforcement capacity on IPR border protection for Customs of member economies.
Long-term objectives: to set up a long-term mechanism for research and training on IPR border protection.
3. Conducting Closer Cooperation with the Private Sector to Enhance Trade Security
• Authorized Economic Operator (AEO)
Short-term objectives: to continue carrying 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.
Long-term objectives: to continue the capacity building programs, promote AEO mutual recognition between member economies, and work out the benefit list of the AEO MRA to further facilitate the trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
• Cross-border E-commerce
Short-term objectives: to increase the awareness of the risk control in the E-commerce in APEC Customs community and promote the cooperation with the business community by elevating the level of their information exchange on best practices.
Long-term objectives: to strengthen cooperation between APEC economies and the private sectors, to encourage self-discipline and compliance from the private sectors, to establish safe and efficient order on cross-border e-commerce so as to promote the economy and trade development in APEC.
4. Applying Technology to Enhance the Efficiency of the Customs Control
• Manifest Exchange between Land Border Customs
Short-term objectives: to encourage experience exchange between members that have carried out border Customs cooperation.
Long-term objectives: to explore the possibility of manifest data exchange between land bordering Customs in APEC region.
In addition to the above-mentioned key tasks, we support to push forward other ongoing projects including Trade Recovery, Time Release Study, etc. in order to ensure that goods and services move efficiently, effectively and safely through the region. We encourage APEC Customs to work closely with the private sector through the VWG to progress the priorities addressed at the borders.