Meeting of the Director General of ASEAN Directorate General of Customs is to talk about customs cooperation in ASEAN as a whole. If moved backwards, the Customs in ASEAN has been longer than we thought. Since 1983, ASEAN Customs has already produced the ASEAN Customs Code of Conduct. This document is important because ASEAN member countries commit to facilitate intra-ASEAN trade through simplification and harmonization of trade procedures and to strengthen regional cooperation in the field of customs.
ASEAN is a huge market. The growth of economy in ASEAN is the third largest in Asia after China and India. Cooperation with all partners, within ASEAN countries and association or other countries, especially Europe and America is absolutely necessary. Besides, ASEAN Customs Director General Meeting with ASEAN counterparts such as Australia, Japan, Korea, and China is also important.
Director General of Indonesia Customs, Heru Pambudi revealed the essence of the 26th ASEAN Customs Director General Meeting which is held in Nusa Dua Bali a couple times ago is how the Directors General of ASEAN Customs bring ASEAN into the next few years (5, 10, or 15 years) through strategic decisions.
“In addition to the meeting, we also discussed technical issues. As well as facilities in advancing the economy of Indonesia and ASEAN. Not only providing a support for the facilities but also continuing to discuss and produce a decision to provide protection to the community and entrepreneurs,” said Heru Pambudi.
Indeed, the current commitment of ASEAN Customs is to cooperate concretely. Gaining the support from other counterparts like Australia, China, Japan and Korea, will strengthen ASEAN Customs power. Currently, Indonesia is the chairman of ASEAN as well as chairman of the Customs Coordinating Committee (CCC) or the ASEAN Customs Leadership Forum which is one level below the Director General. “This is an honor and an opportunity to speak up the interests of Indonesia as well as ASEAN. We encourage the private sector from Indonesia to be involved in private sector engagement meetings,” said Heru.
On that occasion, the Directorate General of Customs and Excise (DJBC) appointed the Priority Line Entrepreneur Association (APJP) as representative of private sector from Indonesia. At last, the opportunity in becoming the chairman of ASEAN and CCC will be utilized to promote Indonesia Customs and also ASEAN in both the customs side and private sector. The decision of the meeting that has been endorsed is the acceptance of terms of reference or TOR of Indonesia on ASEAN cooperation and private sector.
Then from the technical side, Indonesia completed the meetings at the DG level to revise the strategic steps in order to advance ASEAN for the next 5 to 25 years. This is important because DG is the highest leader in customs affairs. In addition to a very strategic meeting this time, too many technical points. These will be implemented by the Indonesia Customs and follow up the direction and instructions of the Minister of Finance in its speech.
According to Heru Pambudi, the main priority is concerning the customs officer to immediately realize private sector engagement and how to fight for ASEAN in the World Customs Organization (WCO). For example in the context of ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) in order to have a stronger bargaining position. Then how to fight for ASEAN countries not only be a market but also an e-Commerce user. in a further steps, it’s related to the issues of surveillance, especially narcotics and terrorism. The participants of the meeting in Bali appreciated the DG meeting, because everything went well and was quite satisfactory.
During the meeting, the ASEAN Customs Director General’s dialogue session with private sector became crucial. at the press conference, the chairman of APJP, Edward Otto Kanter revealed his party is proud to be involved in such big and important event so that his team can communicate and consult directly with the Customs of ASEAN. “We think that is very important because we hope this facilitation can increase trade transactions, especially in ASEAN,” said Edward.
Agenda and Results of the Meeting
The annual meeting of the Director General of Customs in Southeast Asia is in fact the highest forum in customs affairs in ASEAN which discusses various customs strategic interests in order to support the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (MEA). And, in 2017 Indonesia has the opportunity to host and automatically became a chairman of ASEAN Customs for one year ahead.
The meeting discussed the development of the performance of customs forums under ASEAN Customs including the ASEAN CCC, the Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG), the Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group (CECWG), the Customs Capacity Building Working Group CCBWG) and the ASEAN Single Window Steering Committee (ASWSC).Director General of Indonesia Customs, Heru Pambudi stated that the meeting was also discussed about the significant improvement of performance in ASEAN Customs integration process. Some of the results which are already endorsed the meeting attendees are ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) 2017, renewal of AHTN 2012. This indicates an ongoing effort to unify the classification of goods by all ASEAN Customs with the aim of simplification of business processes, as a form of trade facilitation between countries. Now, five countries have implemented AHTN 2017, followed by the remaining states to speed up the procedure in the country to be able to immediately implement AHTN 2017. The development of ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS), also showed significant improvements. ACTS is a management system governing the entry and exit of goods from one ASEAN country to another ASEAN countries in a legal low that sets the complexity that is still going on to be free.
ASEAN Single Window (ASW) is also one of the programs that have significant progress. One of them is the establishment of Project Management Office (PMO) within the ASEAN Secretariat to manage the daily performance of ASW. Electronic data exchange has also been made possible in ASW. This achievement will realize ASW’s goal to accelerate the exit of goods, in line with reducing logistics costs in ASEAN.
Another achievement is the endorsement of TOR on the Private Sector Engagement as a guide for the ASEAN Customs Committee, Working Groups and the Private Sector. It is launched to encourage the private sector, national associations, particularly for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to gain a support in advancing ASEAN trade.
The meeting was also attended by ASEAN counterparts from China, Japan, Korea, Australian, and representatives of the WCO. Several bilateral meetings were also held between the counterparts to establish and strengthen cooperation. In addition to the above counterparts, bilateral meetings are also held with the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) aimed at strengthening Customs partnerships with the business sector.
ASEAN member states in applying a new approach in gaining consensus or approval in this meeting. Some members also appreciate Australia for its border cooperation and capacity building arrangements, and for its commitment to fight drugs dealing. On that occasion, ASEAN asked Australia to be willing to organize a meeting for the long-term development of ASEAN in addressing various smuggling of narcotics and tobacco products. Then it is possible to hold benchmarking as well as capacity building to improve the ability of ASEAN in implementing WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Meanwhile, Japan describes the latest developments in its efforts to combat terrorism. They affirm the need to upgrade the equipment of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) of air transportation passengers. In the end, Indonesia referred to the decision of the Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) 2010, that CoO form D should be issued before the shipment process. The Indonesian delegation explained its trade related Single Risk Management (SRM) project which could reduce private sector difficulties. Because this project will facilitate the Customs in accelerating the clearance process.
Australia welcomes this collaborative spirit and expressed its commitment to continue capacity building programs for ASEAN. Meanwhile, China state a conveyance which delivered by its president at a recent high-level forum that their country will continue to support the development of the ASEAN community. In this part, China also demonstrates the important role of customs in the global supply chain and value. The meeting also includes a Korean proposal on electronic data exchange systems for successful FTA implementation and an overview of the progress in direct consignment rules under the ASEAN-Korea FTA (AKFTA) scheme.
Then the meeting noted the EU-ABC proposal on three main areas of cooperation in combating various forms of smuggling, modernizing customs procedures, and consulting in the future. Meanwhile, US-ABC recommends that ASEAN Customs focus on three areas; E-Commerce facilitation, supply chain security and traceability and visibility, as well as increasing the predictability of complex supply chains. The five issues raised by Indonesia’s private sector in this meeting are; Implementation of e-CoO, CoO issuance time, Implementation of AHTN 2017, agreement of small mistakes in CoO publishing, as well as retroactive check procedure.
Inter-Sectoral Cooperation within the ASEAN Customs Frame