As the title suggests, the latest edition of WCO Newscontains a variety of articles concerning Customs approach to COVID-19 and even one article relating to Customs Brokers on COVID-19. Other features include C-2-C cooperation and information exchange, Risk Management and the future invisible supply chain and Secure Border . Of interest for Customs Policy are articles on improvements to simplification and harmonisation of components to the Revised Kyoto Convention; WCO’s development of draft “Practical Guidance on Free Zones” as well as Internet domain name ownership data – understanding changes and useful suggestions for Customs. All in all another great read!
Maintaining trade flows during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial in providing access to essential food and medical items and in limiting negative impacts on jobs and poverty.
The speed and scale of the crisis are unprecedented. But governments can ameliorate the impact. The following documents, hyperlinked to this page provide initial guidance for policymakers on best practices to mitigate pandemic-related trade risks, support trade facilitation and logistics, and implement trade policy in a time of crisis.
Managing Risk and Facilitating Trade in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Maintaining trade flows as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial in providing access to essential food and medical items and in limiting negative impacts on jobs and poverty.
Some countries are closing border crossings and implementing protectionist measures such as restricting exports of critical medical supplies. Although these measures may in the short-term provide some immediate reduction in the spread of the disease, in the medium term they may undermine health protection, as countries lose access to essential products to fight the pandemic. Instead, governments should refrain from introducing new barriers to trade and consider removing import tariffs and other taxes at the border on critical medical equipment and products, including food, to support the health response.
Trade facilitation measures can contribute to the response to the crisis by expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The World Bank Group provides guidance and technical assistance to developing and least developed countries to implement best practices to facilitate the free flow of goods.
Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Policy in Response to COVID-19
Despite the initial inclination of policy makers to close borders, maintaining trade flows during the COVID-19 pandemic will be crucial. Trade in both goods and services will play a key role in overcoming the pandemic and limiting its impact in the following ways:
by providing access to essential medical goods (including material inputs for their production) and services to help contain the pandemic and treat those affected,
ensuring access to food throughout the world,
providing farmers with necessary inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, equipment, veterinary products)for the next harvest,
by supporting jobs and maintaining economic activity in the face of a global recession. Substantialdisruption to regional and global value chains will reduce employment and increase poverty.Trade policies will therefore be an essential instrument in the management of the crisis.
Trade policy reforms, such as tariff reductions, can contribute:
to reducing the cost and improving the availability of COVID-19 goods and services,
to reducing tax and administrative burdens on importers and exporters,
to reducing the cost of food and other products heavily consumed by the poor and contributing to themacro-economic measures introduced to limit the negative economic and social impact of the COVID-19 related downturn,
to supporting the eventual economic recovery and building resilience to future crises.
Governments with industries producing COVID-19 medical goods or food staples can further contribute by committing to refrain from limiting exports through bans or taxes. If export restrictions must be used, then they should be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary.Measures to streamline trade procedures and facilitate trade at borders can contribute to the response to the crisis by expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, and enabling exchange of services.
Reforms can be designed to reduce the need for close contact between traders, transporters and border officials so as to protect stakeholders and limit the spread of the virus, while maintaining essential assessments to ensure revenue, health and security. Interventions to sustain and enhance the efficiency of logistics operations may also be critical in avoiding substantial disruption to distribution networks and hence to regional and global value chains.
The covid-19 pandemic is increasingly a concern for developing countries. Using a new database on trade in covid-19 relevant products, this paper looks at the role of trade policy to address the looming health crisis in developing countries with highest numbers of recorded cases. It shows that export restrictions by leading producers could cause significant disruption in supplies and contribute to price increases. Tariffs and other restrictions to imports further impair the flow of critical products to developing countries.
“During this time of crisis, the global Customs community is invited to continue advocating for and realize the facilitation of not just relief supplies but of all goods being traded in order to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Mikuriya. He further added that “We are witnessing an unprecedented situation, but I am confident that by acting together, in a spirit of solidarity, we can mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our societies and economies.”
The dedicated webpage will be updated regularly with further guidance material, Members’ best practices and a database of Customs administrations’ contact points, the latter accessible for Members only.
In his communication to Members on 17 March 2020, Dr. Mikuriya reiterated the appeal to facilitate the smooth movement of relief consignments, as well as relief personnel and their possessions, while applying appropriate risk management. Members were also invited to share challenges and best practices to prevent and/or fight the spread of the infection, as well as to nominate contact persons who can handle inquiries regarding the applicable procedures for the import, export and transit of relief consignments and equipment for humanitarian purposes via air, land and sea modes of transport.
In less than 48 hours, the Secretariat received an overwhelming number of replies from Customs administrations around the world.
The WCO will continue to proactively communicate with its Members and partners, not only on measures to facilitate the movement of relief consignments, but on action to safeguard supply chain continuity.
This Friday, 20 April 2018, SARS Customs will implement its new Cargo, Conveyance and Goods Accounting solution – otherwise known as the Cargo Processing System (CPS). In recent years SARS has introduced several e-initiatives to bolster cargo reporting in support its electronic Customs Clearance Processing System (iCBS), introduced in August 2013.
Followers of SARS’ New Customs Acts Programme (NCAP) will recognise that the CPS forms part of one of the three core pillars of the new legislative programme, better known as Reporting of Conveyances and Goods (RCG). The other two pillars are, Registration, Licensing and Accreditation (RLA) and Declaration Processing (DPR). More about these in future articles. In order to expedite the implementation of the new Acts, SARS deemed it necessary to introduce elements of the new functionality via a transitional manner under the current Customs and Excise (1964) Act.
Proper revenue accounting and goods statistical reporting, can only be adequately achieved if Customs knows what goods ‘actually’ arrive, transit and exit it’s borders. Many countries, since the era of heightened security (post 9/11), have invested heavily in the re-engineering of policies and systems to address the threat of terrorism. This lead to a re-focus of resources and energies to develop risk management systems based on ‘advanced information’. SARS has invested significantly in automated systems in the last decade. Shortly, SARS it will also introduce a new automated risk engine with enhanced capabilities to include post clearance audit activities.
It should also not come as a surprise to anyone conversant with Customs practice, that international Customs standards such as the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards, the RKC and the Data Model are prevalent in the new Customs legal dispensation and its operational business systems.
South Africa will now follow several of its trading partners with the introduction of ‘advance reporting of containerised cargo’ destined for South African sea ports. This reporting requires carriers and forwarders to submit ‘advance loading notices’ to SARS Customs at both master and house bill of lading levels, 24 hours prior to vessel departure.
The implementation of CPS is significant in terms of its scope. It comprises some 30 odd electronic cargo notices and reports across the sea, air, rail and road modalities. These reports form the ‘pipeline’ of information deemed necessary to ensure that the ‘chain of custody’ is visible and secure from point of departure to final destination. For the first time, South Africa will also require cargo reporting in the export domain.
It is no understatement that the CPS initiative is a challenge in particular to new supply chain entities who have not been required in the past to submit electronic reports. In order to meet these reporting requirements, a significant investment in systems development and training is required on the part of SARS and external trade participants. To this end, SARS intends to focus on ramping up compliance amongst all cargo reporters across all transport modalities. The first modality will be road, which is the most significantly developed and supported modality by trade since the inception of manifest reporting under the Customs Modernisation Programme. The remaining transport modalities will receive attention once road is stabilised.
The recent WCO publication of a Study Report on E-Commerce is based on a short survey answered by the Organization’s Members. The Report compiles Customs administrations’ practices as well as their ongoing and/or future initiatives related to the processing of cross-border low-value e-commerce.
Current practices, issues and challenges as well as initiatives and potential solutions are presented in each of the survey sections: Facilitation; Risk Management; Data Exchange/Cooperation with E-Commerce Operators; Control and Enforcement; Revenue Collection. Case studies are also widely used throughout the document to illustrate specific practices.
The survey was undertaken as part of the WCO Work Plan on Cross-Border E-Commerce aimed at addressing cross-cutting issues in relation to e-commerce and coming up with practical solutions for the facilitated clearance of low-value shipments, including appropriate duty/tax collection mechanisms and control procedures.
An overview of the WCO’s work so far, including tools, reports and interim recommendations issued by the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC), as well as work to be completed in the future, is available here. Source: WCO
Mozambique: Maputo, Mozambique Revenue Authority, Customs Division, Risk Management Unit
In December 2014 a WCO Capacity Building support mission was undertaken to Mozambique. The mission was the fourth in a series of inputs as part of the Project for “Customs Capacity Building for WCO Members 2012-15” which is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The aim of the project is to deliver technical assistance to seven countries in specific areas of Customs operations. As one of the countries participating in the project the assistance provided to Mozambique has been designed to strengthen their capacity in the areas of Risk Management and Human Resources/Training Policy Management.
The mission commenced with a meeting between the WCO delegation and Mr. Guilherme Mambo Director General, Customs. Progress with the project was discussed and specific plans for the introduction of new risk management procedures.
The mission focused on the delivery of a high-level strategic Risk Management workshop. The workshop was designed to support the implementation of a new Risk Management Framework and was attended by several members of the MRA Senior Management Team.
Together with the workshop, the WCO experts also conducted a Risk Management organizational review and prepared a report summarizing key findings and recommendations. Work also continued on supporting the MRA with the development of their new Strategic Plan and specifically with a review of existing risk profiles to ensure that they are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.
The opportunity was taken to also discuss establishing procedures for access to the WCO e-learning modules so that the MRA can make best use of the wide range of training modules that are available for their use, particularly in the areas of Risk Management, CBM, PCA and the Revised Kyoto Convention. Source and picture: WCO
Secretary General Mikuriya during a courtesy visit paid to the President of the Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan (WCO)
At the invitation of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Abdullahi Dikko Inde, the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Nigeria on 17 and 18 February 2014 to observe Customs transformation activities after the termination of Destination Inspection contracts on 1 December 2013.
In Lagos, the Secretary General went to Apapa Port, Nigeria’s major port, to see Customs operations and also to visit the Customs Training Centre for a mentorship talk with young officers: the NCS has recruited many recent university graduates and trained them in computer and other necessary skills.
Secretary General Mikuriya also presided over a Stakeholder Forum to interact with the private sector. The business community were supportive of the ongoing Customs transformation programme that was enhanced by an improved communication strategy for Customs, the use of information technology – the Nigeria Trade Hub – and the implementation of modern Customs methods, such as risk management.
The private sector also suggested better use of a database for risk management purposes, including valuation, and expressed their hope for the introduction of coordinated border management and a Single Window to simplify the multiplicity of regulations and inspections at borders.
The Secretary General also travelled to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, and was joined by three heads of Customs from neighbouring countries, namely Benin, Ghana and Niger, who wanted to learn from NCS’s experience and obtain Nigeria’s support, as well as that of the WCO, for terminating contracts with inspection companies in order to regain ownership of core Customs functions.
The Secretary General also paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. As a former Customs official early in his career, the President talked fondly of his visit to the WCO to attend the 2012 Council Sessions and particularly noted the WCO’s strong and inspirational leadership. He also acknowledged the economic and social contribution of Customs to the nation, and promised to continue to support Customs reform in Nigeria and provide guidance and influence at the regional level. Source: WCO
Enforcement, Risk Management and Preferred Trade come together in the SACU Region
A WCO workshop on the topics of Enforcement, Risk Management and Preferred Trader was conducted in April in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the involvement of the WCO Secretariat, UK Customs and the member countries of the Southern African Customs Union – SACU (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland). Capacity Building in the mentioned areas in the SACU Region is part of the WCO Sub-Saharan Customs Capacity Building Programme financed by the Swedish Government through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA.
An assessment including lessons learned was conducted concerning Operation Auto, targeted at second hand motor vehicles. This first ever regional enforcement operation in the 102 years of history of SACU presented good results as around 250 vehicles were seized by the Customs administrations. The Regional Intelligence Liaison Office contributed actively in the assessment process, ensuring that also future enforcement operations will benefit from the experiences gained.
The development of further risk management capacity is ongoing at the regional level and discussions were held concerning the establishment of common risk profiles. A number of high risk products have been identified and the formulation of profiles to engage illegal trade in these areas is ongoing.
Regarding the Preferred Trader program, progress can also be reported as SACU Members are approaching implementation at operational level. This project component fits very well with the risk management component as the latter is the foundation of the Preferred Trader approach. The process of selecting high compliant, low risk economic operators for the upcoming pilot scheme is well underway while capacity in verification and post clearance audit is being enhanced. A launch of (a pilot of) the regional Preferred Trade program is tentatively envisaged for the second half of 2013. Source: WCO
So how come FTZs, IDZs, EPZs, etc are working in other African countries and not here in South Africa? This Day Live (Nigeria) offers some of the critical success factors which delineate such zones from the normal economic operations in a country. Are we missing the boat? The extent of economic and incentive offering can vary substantially between the different economic and trade zone models – some extremely liberal while others tend to the conservative. Obviously the more liberal and free the regulations are the more stringent the ‘guarantees’ and controls need to be. However, in today’s e-commercial world, risk to revenue can more than adequately be mitigated and managed with through risk management systems. Manufacturing and logistical supply chain operations are likewise managed in automated fashion. I guess the real issue lies in governments appetite for risk and more particularly its willingness to relax tax and labour laws within such zones. Furthermore, a sound economic roadmap demonstrating backward linkages to the local economy and outward linkages to international markets must be defined. Herein lies some of the difficulties which have plagued South African attempts at such economic offerings – no specific economic (export specific) goals. Limited financial/tax incentives for investors, and poor cooperation between the various organs of state to bring about a favourable investment climate.
Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are at the crux of the growth attributed to emerging markets. All the BRIC nations have used the FTZs as a buffer to economic meltdown particularly in the wake of the most recent financial and economic crises. The “great recession” of 2007 – 2009 saw the BRIC nations growing at the rates of 7% to 13%. Consequently, the importance of FTZs as well as maximizing opportunities therein cannot be over-emphasized. The literature defining FTZs vary, but they all have the following characteristics in common:
A clearly delimited and enclosed area of a national customs territory, often at an advantageous geographical location, with an infrastructure suited to the conduct of trade and industrial operations and subject to the principle of customs and fiscal segregation.
A clearly delineated industrial estate, which constitutes a free trade enclave in the customs and trade regime of a country, and where foreign manufacturing firms, mainly producing for export, benefit from a certain number of fiscal and financial incentives.
Industrial zones with special incentives set up to attract foreign investors, in which imported materials undergo some degree of processing before being re-exported.
Fulfilling their roles in having a positive effect on the host economy, regulators look at FTZs from a nationalist perspective. Inevitably, they seek the following benefits:
Creating jobs and income: one of the foremost reasons for the establishment of FTZs is the creation of employment.
Generating foreign exchange earnings and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI): measures designed to influence the size, location, or industry of a FDI investment project by affecting its relative cost or by altering the risks attached to it through inducements that are not available to comparable domestic investors are incentives to promoting FDI. Implicit in this statement lies the definition of FTZ. Other traits that are recognizable when discussing FDI’s include specially negotiated fiscal derogations, grants and soft loans, free land, job training, employment and infrastructure subsidies, product enhancement, R&D support and ad hoc exceptions and derogations from regulations. In addition to FDI, by promoting non-traditional exports, increased export earnings tend to have a positive impact on the exchange rate.
Transfer of technology: trans-national corporations (TNCs) are a dominant source of innovation and direct investment by them is a major mode of international technology transfer, possibly contributing to local innovative activities in host countries. It is a government’s primary obligation to its citizenry to provide attractive technology, innovative capacities and mastering, upgrading, and diffusing them throughout the domestic economy. Nevertheless, through national policies, international treaty making, market-friendly approaches, a host country gravitates from providing an enabling environment to stronger pro-innovation regimes that perpetually encourage technology transfer.
FTZs can be both publicly (i.e. government) and or privately owned and managed. Governments own the more traditional older zones, which tend to focus more on policy goals that are primarily socio-economic. They emphasize industry diversification, attracting FDI, job creation and the like. Privately-owned FTZs have the advantage of eliminating government bureaucracy, are more flexible, and are better prepared to deal with technological changes. The global trend towards privatization has made privately-run zones more popular and a number are highly successful. The role of government in the case of privately-run zones is to provide a competitive legal framework with attractive incentive packages that meet the World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.
FTZ Operations in Nigeria
FTZs were established in 1991 in order to diversify Nigeria’s export activity that had been dominated by the hydrocarbon sector. By 2011, there were nine operational zones; ten under construction; and three in the planning stages. The governing legislation includes the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act (NEPZA) and the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act (OGEFZA). Zones may be managed by public or private entities or a combination of both under supervision of the Authority. For the full article go to – This Day Live
Workers offload imported sugar at the port of Mombasa. Comesa has already gazetted transit goods routes, which have been geo-fenced and trucks following these routes will be monitored. Photo/File Nation Media Group
A new online system being implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trading bloc is expected to cut down non-tariff barriers, reduce the cost of doing business and improve intra-regional trade.
The $1 million (Sh84 million) system – which is being developed by Comesa and funded by the European Union – could for instance cut transport costs by up to 40 per cent, Comesa secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said.
With three main modules – Transit Bonds, Risk Management and Cargo Tracking — the Comesa Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS) aims at integrating systems used by regional revenue authorities, transporters, shippers, clearing agents, ports and customs to provide real-time information and facilitate uninterrupted movement of goods across borders.
Besides tracking cargo from origin to destination, the system will facilitate management of transit bonds and capture electronic data contained in the customs seal and assign this information to customs offices at various transit points.
Comesa has already gazetted transit goods routes which have been geo-fenced and trucks following these routes will be monitored. In case seals are tampered with, owners will automatically be notified via Short Message Services (SMSs) or email. Owners who register their trucks with the system will display a ‘Comesa Transit’ plate on their vehicles.
Delays along the major transport corridors arising from lengthy procedures at weight control points and police road blocks within the region have been identified as major non-tariff barriers hindering trade.
Mr Charles Muita, a member of the team that worked on the system and who made the presentation, said they expected most of the countries where industry players do not have their own systems to quickly adopt CVTFS. “The system does not intend to replace the ones used by member countries but would integrate them to achieve a seamless flow of information and documentation,” Mr Ngwenya said during the sensitisation at the Mombasa Beach Hotel.
Truckers buy the fleet management system at Sh24,000 and pay an average of Sh2,000 management fee per month.“We are not interested in making money with the system and the initial cost of the gadget will be less than Sh12,000 and a monthly management fee of about $3 (Sh255),” explained Mr Ngwenya.
The sensitisation in Comesa member states aims at getting volunteers for a free pilot project that will run for three months starting next month. Source: Business Daily Africa.com
SARS has issued its inaugural SARS Compliance Programme, a high-level overview of its plans for the next five years to further grow compliance with tax and customs legislation. More so than perhaps any other time in history, the current global economic conditions have thrust domestic resource mobilisation into the spotlight, highlighting sustainability built on a foundation of tax compliance. Countries lacking this solid base have found their room for manoeuvre in these uncertain times severely curtailed and, in some cases, completely absent. The impact of self-reliance on self-determination is self-evident.
Many tax administrations publish similar compliance programmes (including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, USA, UK) and SARS has based it’s Compliance Programme on their ground-breaking work. To download and read the SARS Compliance Programme, click here!For Customs specialists and trade practitioners no less than 3 priority areas involve Customs –
Illicit cigarettes: the trade in and consumption of illicit cigarettes is detrimental to the fiscus and to the health of South Africans. SARS interventions will continue to focus on clamping down on cigarettes smuggled via warehouses as well the diversion of cigarettes destined for export back into the local market. SARS also plans to modernise it’s warehousing management and acquittal system.
Undervaluation of imports in the clothing and textile industry: Undervalued imports pose a significant risk not only to the fiscus but to local industry and job creation. SARS will continue to work together with other government agencies and industry stakeholders to clamp down on this practice including through the establishment and frequent revision of a reference pricing database to detect undervaluation, increasing inspections as well as supporting an integrated border management model.
Tax Practitioners and Trader Intermediaries: Regulation of this industry will be pursued to ensure that tax practitioners and trade intermediaries are all persons of good standing, are fully tax compliant in their personal capacity and provide a high quality service and advice to their clients. SARS will also develop a rigorous risk profiling system to identify high risk practitioners and trade intermediaries.
Having considered that commonality and harmonisation in Customs lies more in data and less in format, it is nevertheless still important to consider the state and readiness of all customs administrations, particularly where the innovation of one effects another.
The biggest issue with technology-lead modernisation lies in the fact that an IT solution delivers, in most instances, ‘intangible’ characteristics – not always possible to feel, to touch, or to understand. Little wonder then customs users and traders are bewildered if not a bit confused with the resulting ‘change’ at first. The burden to manage such ‘change’ often lies with staff who have limited understanding of the technology and limited time to ‘educate’ the user. And, on the import/export trading front as I have mentioned before, there is an increasing tendency or responsibility among’st service providers to provide relevant training.
For the customs official, what once represented a semblance of control, of influence, is rendered obsolete. For instance, the introduction of automated workflow – which effectively drives the customs process according to specified functions attached to configurable user profiles – manages and monitor’s the user’s activities and performance. This dramatically increases the organisation’s ability to review and report on individuals, branch teams, and regional performance.
In SARS’ case, the new software solution mimics the look an feel of organic items such as documents and forms. Barcodes now replace official customs stamps (yes, those rubber things that once indicated official approval), and the combination of automated risk management coupled with structured workflow virtually eliminates discretion – discretion now limited to drop-down menus and tick box options.
To address the impact of innovation on the customs and supply chain process, a communication strategy is vital. Any change which dramatically reduces turnaround and response times on one side of a land border crossing fundamentally impact the activities on the other side – its simple algebra: what you do to the one side you ought to do to the other. What purpose does modernisation serve if it benefits trade only partially? Regional cooperation therefore behoves the initiating party to facilitate and assist neighbours in refining the overall border processing experience, benefiting all.
Recently, regional endeavours on information exchange and cross-border harmonisation have gained traction. With all the political overturing concerning intra-African trade, the creation of broader free trade areas, and the realisation that all of this can only succeed with a combined regional effort, Africa Customs is certainly attempting to address its own past barriers and limitations.
Trends such as globalization, lean processes, mass travel and the geographical concentration of production have made supply chain and transport networks more efficient, but have also changed their risk profile. This World Economic Forum report, produced in collaboration with Accenture, calls for new models to address supply chain and transport risks. It highlights the urgent need to review risk management practices to keep pace with rapidly changing contingencies facing the supply chain, transport, aviation and travel sectors. Download the full report here!Source: Creamer Media
Recently, an organisation called Global Inspection Group (GIG) has advocated PSI – an import verification system – as a solution to counteract South Africa’s trade deficit. The article ‘Import verification would outlaw customs fraud’ alludes to the apparent success of these mechanisms in other African states to support quality and import standards in those countries, respectively. Because South Africa has no verification of imports system ‘it is easy to systematically under-declare goods’, the article states. Furthermore, it mentions that a Finance ministry would benefit from such a system ensuring the collection of the correct duties. [Really? how naive].
South Africa is a free country, and it follows that organisations will go to extremes to secure a business foothold in the country. The question is – to what length and to what end? If any ministry of finance were to rely on a PSI company, it would first disband its customs department, because there is evidently no trust in its frontline and post clearance capability. Most governments (if not all) are pretty much aware of the broader international customs developments championed by the WCO. In recent years, the WCO has developed several diagnostic studies and programmes – with the option of donor funding if required. There would therefore be no sense or credibility in a government that would persist in pursuance of PSI services for fiscal assurance.
Any trade practitioner and supply chain operator in South Africa will readily confirm the hectic ‘change’ programme which is being pursued under Customs Modernisation. These changes and their associated systematic innovations and efficiencies are by no means the result of government capitulating in the face of illegitimate trade. No, it’s a conscious decision to take responsibility for the problem, and together with the allied trade to improve the situation.
It is therefore high time that such organisations which front themselves with the ‘be-all and end-all’ systems in Customs’ tariff and valuation appraisal rather seek a more practical and benefit-delivering model than one which not only scams governments for service and inspection fees, but also offers no benefit to trade. Included are those BOT vehicles offering governments ‘free’ cargo scanning equipment in exchange for a lucrative inspection fee. None of this is based on risk management and is purely profit focussed. The concept forgoes most if not all, the modern customs principles and standards promoted by the WCO. The buzz word is ‘Capacity Building!’
The reality in all of this should be clear. No private sector entity can replace Customs. Outsourcing in any event would require government to set up a vehicle of its own to ‘ensure’ that the outsourcer is doing his job. If there is a dearth in knowledge and skills, then it is up to government to rectify the situation. Source: FTW Print version.
The June 2011 edition of the WCO News is a bumper 56 pages. You will find several interesting articles relating to the latest developments and initiatives on trade facilitation. A particular article features East Africa’s efforts at facilitation at its land borders. Read also about –
Korea’s Client-oriented Logistics Information System which automatically measures the time taken for processing imported cargo at each stage of clearance from arrival at port to release (arrival at port > bonded warehouse > import declaration > permission > release), to diagnose and eliminate bottlenecks in logistics.
TradeFIRST, Singapore Customs’ latest initiative to improve trade facilitation through better partnerships with business. TradeFIRST is a single trade facilitation window that integrates the concepts of facilitation, compliance and risk management, and promises to make trade easier, fairer and more secure.
Latin America leads the way with AEO implementation, and