2007 will be a year of significance to Hong Kong Customs, with the first-ever application of co-location arrangement at Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor in the middle of the year, and the hosting in Hong Kong of a Pan-PRD Customs Trade Facilitation Forum and a Joint Meeting of the Customs Directors of the Pan-PRD Region, Commissioner of Customs and Excise of Hong Kong, Mr Timothy Tong, said.
Mr Tong today (February 13) highlighted the major plans of the Department in 2007 while reviewing the work last year.
The Department is at present actively involved in the preparation for the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor boundary-crossing facilities.
To support the operation of the new control point, Hong Kong Customs has lined up recruitment of 561 staff members, namely, 47 Inspectors, 502 Customs Officers and 12 Assistant Trade Control Officers.
Mr Tong said the Hong Kong and Shenzhen customs authorities had been working closely for the launch of the new clearance mode at the Shenzhen Bay Port. A Shenzhen Bay Port Customs Matters Coordination Centre will be set up to minimise redundant cargo examination and to exchange clearance-related data. A Shenzhen Bay Port Anti-smuggling Joint Command Centre will be put in place for intelligence exchange to cope with anti-smuggling activities.
The Department will host a Pan-PRD Customs Trade Facilitation Forum and a Joint Meeting of the Customs Directors of the Pan-PRD Region in Hong Kong on May 10 to enhance cooperation among the various customs services.
Strong support of the Customs General Administration (CGA) and Guangdong Sub-administration has been secured for the event. The Minister of CGA, Mr Mu Xinsheng, will lead the customs chiefs of CGA and Guangdong Sub-administration as well as the 16 customs heads of the nine provinces in the Pan-PRD Region to attend the forum in Hong Kong. The Director-General of the Macau Customs Service will also join.
It is hoped that the forum will provide a platform to foster working relationships among the regional customs administrations, and between the customs administrations and the business sector and to achieve concrete measures in customs clearance and trade promotion.
In 2006, Hong Kong Customs reached a consensus with the industry players over the operational mode of the e-ACI Project (Electronic Advance Cargo Information Project). With support from the industry players, the Department will map out the implementation of the project. It is expected that e-ACI will come into operation in 2009.
When reviewing the work of Hong Kong Customs last year, Mr Tong said the Department had all along been maintaining stringent law enforcement while facilitating trade, striving to attain remarkable results.
Hong Kong Customs cracked a total of 53,286 cases leading to the arrest of 14,952 persons. As a result of stringent Customs enforcement action, there was a drop in the number of illicit-activity blackspots.
Last year, the quantity of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis buds seized by Customs officers recorded a rise when compared with that of 2005, whereas the seizure quantity of ketamine and "ice" fell considerably.
The number of pirated optical disc shops further decreased from about 70 in 2004 to about 40 to 50 at present. The number of blackspots of counterfeit goods also dropped. It fell from 25 in mid-2005 to about 15 now.
Illicit cigarettes and illicit fuel activities have been put under firm control. The number of blackspots for selling illicit cigarettes dropped from about 16 in 2005 to about ten now; and blackspots for illicit fuel fell from 23 to 21.
On revenue protection, the total amount of duty on dutiable commodities collected by the department in 2006 was $6.96 billion, an increase of 5.1% over 2005. The rise in duties collected from tobacco and alcoholic liquor was 13.3% and 7.5% respectively.
To maintain Hong Kong as an important trading, transportation and logistics hub in Asia by ensuring the smooth flow of people and cargo at various control points, the department cleared about 23.2 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) cargo containers, 15.2 million cross-boundary vehicles and 202 million passengers at all control points in Hong Kong in 2006, reflecting respective increases of 2.8%, 2.1% and 5.6% over 2005.
In respect of consumer protection, the Department continued to discharge its duties in ensuring that toys, children's products and consumer goods supplied on the market are reasonably safe; the fineness of gold and platinum on jewellery are correctly marked; and the goods sold are of the purported weights and measures.
Ends/Tuesday, February 13, 2007