The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) administers the TIR Convention, which was established in 1959 and extensively revised in 1975 and which has, at present, 68 Contracting Parties. The TIR Convention provides for an internationally recognized procedure to facilitate the cross border transportation of goods in transit through the use of a standard, internationally recognized Customs document, the TIR Carnet, which also serves as proof of existence of an internationally valid guarantee.
For many years the TIR Convention proved to be an efficient facilitation tool. However, with the progress in technology, the use of the paper TIR Carnet is increasingly becoming archaic, in particular when it comes to linking it to the electronic procedures applied by national Customs administrations. At each border crossing, Customs officers are faced with additional work of having to key in up to 50 data elements into their national electronic Customs system. In addition, the current situation does not enable Customs authorities to effectively apply risk management procedures based on advance cargo information, as demanded by an increasingly more security-conscious environment.
The eTIR Project
The Contracting Parties to the TIR Convention launched in 2003 the so-called “eTIR Project”, aimed at providing an exchange platform for all actors (Customs authorities, holders, guarantee chains) involved in the TIR system, known as the “eTIR international system”. The eTIR international system aims to ensure the secure exchange of data between national Customs systems related to the international transit of goods, vehicles or containers according to the provisions of the TIR Convention and to allow Customs to manage the data on guarantees, issued by guarantee chains to holders authorized to use the TIR system.
Businesses trading with the United States will be able to continue to trade smoothly following EU exit, after the UK and US governments agreed a deal to continue Customs cooperation.
The bilateral Customs Assistance Agreement was signed by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman and US Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson today at a signing ceremony at the US embassy in London.
The agreement will allow customs authorities to continue to cooperate, including sharing data, to tackle customs fraud, maintaining the current strong relationship between US and UK Customs authorities.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said:
This is an important agreement that ensures continuity post EU exit, and demonstrates the strength of the US-UK customs relationship.
This deal will allow us to continue to cooperate in combatting customs offences by sharing information and good practice, and provides the legal underpinning for schemes to ease trade flows for importers and exporters.
US Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson said:
Every single day, the U.S. and the UK work side by side to stop criminals trafficking illegal goods across the Atlantic – from guns, to drugs, to illegal wildlife products and even counterfeit medicine.
This Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement means that after Brexit, our investigators can keep sharing information to stop criminals in their tracks and keep people in both our countries safe.
It will also provide the legal basis for the Authorised Economic Operator Mutual Recognition Arrangement, which will ensure that people and businesses will continue to benefit at their respective borders.
The Authorised Economic Operator scheme is an internationally recognised quality mark allowing a business customs benefits at the border, in recognition that its role in the international supply chain is secure and that it meets international standards on customs control procedures.
The Indian Customs department and international airlines have locked horns over providing confidential data of passengers to the former.
According to a senior Customs official, airlines were not providing information regarding commuters due to which officials were facing problems in curbing smuggling. Due to lack of details, Customs’ anti-smuggling operations were suffering. Another issue was that airlines staff was not present round-the-clock.
“We have asked airlines to provide details over phone as per law. They have to deploy someone in the office all the time as it is in the national interest to curb smuggling. Airlines have been asked to provide details and also depute a staff to answer phone calls and provide relevant details. There is not at all violation of rules in any manner. If airlines refuse to provide details or don’t reply to phone calls, a notice will be issued,” a senior Customs official told media.
Meanwhile, airlines are challenging the authority of the Customs department in this regard. According to sources, Customs department has to provide a written request that was done earlier for getting information regarding travellers. On the other hand, an airline official said, “According to guidelines laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), passenger data should be transmitted electronically. Agencies shall not require a written declaration of baggage from passenger and crew when no dutiable or restricted goods are being carried.”
Following a theme of logical progression over the past few years, the WCO has introduced “Communication” as this year’s theme for the 170+ Customs Administrations around the world. Last year’s theme “Innovation” set the platform for the introduction of innovative ideas and business practices, new partnerships, as well as new solutions and technologies.
While still very much in its infancy, the WCO’s Globally Networked Customs (GNC) philosophy will undoubtedly gain more and more traction as administrations iron out their national and regional aspirations and objectives.
The recent agreement on Trade Facilitation at the WTO’s conference in Bali adds further credence to the importance of the principles of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). For the first time we see an attempt to fuse customs principles into a package of binding requirements.
Now, more than ever, Customs needs to work ‘collaboratively’ with all stakeholders.
With Customs and Border Agencies etching out new legal requirements, as well as organisational structures and plans, trade practitioners will likewise have to keep a watchful eye on these developments. Sometimes, not necessarily just for their own needs and obligations in their domestic markets, traders need to ensure that they keep apace with ‘destination’ Customs requirements which in these modern times are all too frequent. By opening its door to the business community, the WCO plays an ever-increasing overarching role in providing the private sector a ‘window’ to its thinking and ideology.
Delegates from at least 20 African Customs Administrations met in Pretoria, South Africa between 13 and 15 August to advance developments towards a common framework and approach to IT inter-connectivity and information exchange in the region. Convened by the SADC secretariat in consultation with COMESA and Trademark Southern Africa (TMSA), the three day work session focussed on uniform acceptance of the WCO‘s Globally Networked Customs (GNC) methodology, regional awareness of customs developments in the Southern and East African region, as well as joint agreement on customs data to be exchanged between the member states.
Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) shared its experience with delegates on the launch of its Customs Enforcement Network (CEN). Kenya Revenue Authority will soon be sharing enforcement information with its MRA counterpart. At least 22 African countries are expected to link up with the CEN network over a period of time. Customs enforcement information is the second pillar of the WCO’s GNC information exchange methodology; the first pillar being Customs information exchange. The latter provides for a holistic approach to the dissemination of common customs data derived from supply chain exchanges, for example declaration information, cargo information, and AEO information to name but a few. This information is vital for trading countries to administer advance procedures and better validate the information being provided by the trade.
Rwanda Revenue Authority introduced it’s RADDex programme which is a web-based IT solution for the exchange of cargo manifest information between participating states in the East African Community (EAC) – see related article below.
SADC and COMESA are rallying their members to participate in the initiative. At the current juncture, various member states have expressed keen interest to participate. While the regional intention is the linking of all customs administration’s electronically, initial developments envisage bi-lateral exchanges between Customs administrations which are ready to engage. The importance of the adoption of the GNC methodology is to ensure that customs connectivity and information exchange is harmonised and consistent across the Southern and East African region irrespective of whether countries are ‘early adopters’ or not.
East African tax authorities have launched an online system to share customs cargo information in the region. The system, RADDEx 2.0 (Revenue Authorities Digital Data Exchange), will enable the tax authorities to instantly know what is in transit in the region. Uganda Revenue Authority says RADDEx 2.0 is web-based, has more “functionality and better performance” and will be used by clearing agents. If cargo destined to Uganda poses any risk, notifications will be sent via e-mail so that authorities can plan action prior to arrival of the cargo. All data on cargo will be sent to a central server at the East African Community headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Any East Africa partner state that needs data about expected cargo will interrogate the system, which will automatically provide feedback. The system was developed by IT and customs expert staff from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi and sponsored by USAID/COMPETE (Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Programme). Source: The New Vision, Uganda
With the WCO Council Sessions later in June this year, it is opportune to discuss perhaps one of the single most important developments in Customs Inc, the “Globally Networked Customs (GNC)” concept which aims to realize connectivity, data exchange, and cooperative work amongst the world’s customs administrations.
GNC is set to play a very important role in promoting trade facilitation, enhancing trade efficiency and safeguarding trade security; it will also greatly influence international rules and the development of the customs end-to-end operational process. By and large the SAFE Framework, WCO Data Model and the Revised Kyoto Convention provide specific standards for the development and implementation of national customs legal, procedural and automated systems. It is the GNC that will in future “industrialise” and harmonise Customs-2-Customs (C2C) information exchange requirements which underpin a country’s bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
Briefly the need for GNC arises from the exchanges of information underpinning International Agreements in the commercial domain. These take time and are costly to implement. They are all different from each other creating diversity both for Members and trade. This is because each one of these agreements is built anew, handcrafted and tailor-made to meet the needs at hand. This approach will not scale up and countries broking an increasing number of International Customs Agreements are already encountering difficulty to maintain their delivery plan in line with their international policy ambitions. Below you will find links to 2 documents explaining the GNC. More information on the GNC will be provided once approved by the WCO’s Policy Commission later on in June 2012. Source: WCO.
Governments around the world have realized that rapid economic growth cannot be achieved in an environment where international trade processes are inefficient and cumbersome. Over the past two decades, serious attention has been devoted to the modernization of international trade and cross-border regulatory procedures. Countries have committed substantial resources to national projects in the areas of customs automation and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) infrastructure.
Electronic ‘Single Window’ services delivery is now being demanded in several countries. Based on the principle of joined-up government services, the ‘Single Window’ environment has the potential to deliver transformational advantages to business by simplifying and unifying touch-points between members of the trade and the different government departments involved in cross-border regulatory procedures. In addition, new demands on supply chain security and facilitation have emerged, leading to the establishment of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards.
This booklet provides a brief introduction to WCO Data Model Version 3.0. It explains the scope of the Model, its relationship with other international instruments such as the Revised Kyoto Convention, and its alignment with widely used international standards. The booklet is aimed at project leaders and Information Technology architects from Customs administrations and other cross-border regulatory agencies. The World Customs Organization hopes that this booklet will create a proper understanding of the value of the WCO Data Model as an indispensable instrument in projects that address modernization of regulatory agencies including Customs. Source: WCO.