China officially started the customs cooperation with ASEAN countries in 2003 with an aim to fully implement the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation between the People’s Republic of China and the Association of South East Asian of Nations singed at the Sixth China-ASEAN Summit in 2002. Thanks to the constant efforts of all the relevant parties, customs cooperation by far has yielded indisputable results, which can be described as follows:
(1) Establish a regular ministerial-level consultation mechanism and a Customs Affairs Coordination Committee Consultation mechanism for experts.
(2) Accelerate the negotiations on China-ASEAN FTA rules of origin, which serves as a driving force for the establishment of the FTA.
(3) Introduce 7 priorities of customs cooperation, i.e. the origin of goods determination; customs procedures harmonization and simplification aiming at speeding up the clearance process; customs enforcement cooperation intensification, especially the illegal activities violating customs law including fighting against fraud etc., information sharing by following the best practices in the international Customs community and the relevant conventions, for example, the practice of risk management, the Kyoto Convention and the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance under the framework of the WCO; trade facilitation promotion by using information technologies and electronic systems in the daily administration; human resources development and capacity building; and transparency improvement of the customs regulations and procedures.
Cooperation on Capacity Building between China-ASEAN Customs
Capacity building is one of the major aspects of China-ASEAN customs cooperation. China Customs has held annual symposiums continuously for 6 years with the revised Kyoto Convention, rules of origin, risk management and audit-based control, trade facilitation, WCO SAFE Framework of Standards and customs automation construction being the themes respectively. Some 200 customs officers from ASEAN countries had attended the symposiums.
1. Symposium on Kyoto Convention (Kunming, December 2003)
20 delegates from 7 customs administrations of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China as well as experts designated by both ASEAN Secretariat and WCO attended the symposium. This meeting provided an opportunity for the members to exchange experiences and discuss the practices they had followed on their way to become a contracting party of the Convention. It also helped various customs administrations acquire intimate knowledge of the revised Kyoto Convention and enhance mutual understanding and cooperation.
2. Symposium on rules of origin (Xiamen, May 2004)
41 delegates from ASEAN countries and China exchanged experiences on the implementation of the rules of origin stipulated by the WTO and the WCO, discussed the issue on the formulation and perfection of the preferential rules of origin under the Framework of China-ASEAN FTA. Using this occasion, the both sides cleared up to each other the existing questions and difficulties they came across when putting into practice the rules of origin. A lot of constructive suggestions relevant to the cooperation between customs and the business community were also raised in the symposium.
3. Symposium on Risk Management and Audit-based Control (Chengdu, May 2005)
The 41 delegates from ASEAN countries had a discussion with the China Customs officers and exchanged the experiences and methods of modern customs management technologies including risk management and post audit-based control. The symposium has achieved anticipated results.
4. Symposium on Trade Facilitation (Chongqing, September 2006)
40 delegates from ASEAN countries, ASEAN Secretariat, WCO Secretariat and China Customs attended the symposium. The participants discussed the issues involving the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards, the revised Kyoto Convention and General Annex, measures taken to promote trade facilitation, future customs cooperation and the implementation of technical assistance programs.
5. Symposium on WCO SAFE Framework of Standards (Dalian, August 2007)
Among the 40 delegates who attended the symposium, there were representatives from ASEAN countries, ASEAN Secretariat as well as customs experts from Australia and Italy. Through theory discussion, experience exchange and field trips, the symposium aimed to improve the delegates’ understanding of the Framework of Standards, collect the appraisal results gained by all the ASEAN customs administrations using Framework of Standards as the criterion and provide the participants with an opportunity to learn from the internationally advanced experience and best practices.
6. Symposium on Customs Automation Construction (Ningbo, October 2008)
Delegates from the Customs Administration of China, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and ASEAN Secretariat attended the symposium. Experts from the WCO and representatives from the Australia Embassy in China were also present at the meeting. In the symposium, participants listened to the briefings given by the experts, took part in interacting discussions, and analyzed the reports made by various customs administrations. They also visited the control stations located at Ningbo Customs District of China. These activities which centered around China Customs automation construction were well received by the delegates.