Flashback To The ASEAN Customs Director-General Meeting

The ASEAN Customs Director General Meeting in Bali has just ended. The official agenda shows that it is the 26th time Directors General holds a meetings, discuss strategic steps and determine the future of ASEAN customs.

But what is the ASEAN Customs Director General Meeting when it is first held? The 1st Meeting of ASEAN Directors-General of Customs was held on 20-21 January 1995 in Bali, Indonesia. Certainly, it is very different from the last meeting, although by chance, both held in the same place.

In 1995, there were 6 countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The inaugural meeting of ASEAN Directors-General of Customs was attended by Y. A. M Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibon Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar (Controller of Customs and Excise of the Royal Customs and Excise Department, Brunei Darussalam); Soehardjo (Director-General of Customs and Excise, Indonesia); Ahmad Padzli Mohyiddin (Deputy Director-General (Enforcement) of the Royal Customs and Excise Department, Malaysia).

Then came Titus Villanueva (Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Customs, the Philippines); Koh Chong Hwa (Deputy Director-General of Customs, Customs and Excise Department of Singapore); LT. JG. Anan Panananda RTN (Deputy Director-General, Customs Department of Thailand), Director General of Customs Vietnam, Dr. Phan Van Dinh, along with its status as an observer delegation, since Vietnam has just been recognized as a member of the 7th ASEAN on July 28th, 1995.

Somewhat different from the meetings of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs at the moment, when the meeting was opened and chaired by the Secretary General of ASEAN Dato ‘Ajit Sing. Although formally it is the first meeting of ASEAN Customs, but in his speech, Dato ‘Ajit Sing previously indicated that there has been this same level meeting yet under vacuum conditions.

As the host, the Director General of Indonesia Customs (at that era) Soehardjo, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in the field of customs and persuades all levels of the ASEAN Customs to work hard to conquer the challenges of the demands of trade facilitation and efficiency as mandated by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The meeting agenda was dominated by the topic of harmonization, namely: Harmonization of ASEAN Tariff Nomenclature, Harmonization of Customs Valuation System in ASEAN, Harmonization of Customs Procedures, as well as other topics such as the development of the implementation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in ASEAN countries

Indonesia then still hosted the 2nd Meeting of the same year held in Tretes, East Java. Interspersed by Vietnam, which after officially became an ASEAN member hosted the 3rd Meeting on 27-28 November 1995. This means in 1995 the ASEAN Director General of Customs Meeting held three times. The 4th meeting was again held in Indonesia in 1996. Brunei Darussalam then hosted the 5th Meeting in 1997.

After being re-hosted at the 6th Meeting in 1998, Indonesia just returned to host in Bandung, 2007. Since 1999, when the ASEAN formation was even 10 with the inclusion of Cambodia as a member, the ASEAN Director General of Customs always met once a year with the host chosen by turn in alphabetical order. With the exception of 2005, the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting was held twice, as well as in 2010 when Myanmar, which was supposed to be the host, said it was ready to hold the meeting in 2011. A similar situation would also reoccur in 2018 where Laos should host the meeting, Ask Malaysia instead. Laos will host the 2019 meeting.

Only a few remain unchanged from ASEAN, including the status of a fast growing region that has an impressive trading performance. Beyond that, the spirit of friendship and ASEAN solidarity is a hallmark that can not be found in any regional cooperation. (Regional Section IV, Directorate International and Public Affair, DGCE).

The full list of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs MeetingsThe full list of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meetings

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