Hong Kong Customs achieved successes on the Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL) Pilot Project and the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Programme during the 127th/128th Council Sessions of the World Customs Organization (WCO) held in Brussels, Belgium, between July 14 and 16.
The Joint Administrative Arrangement (JAA) on SSTL Pilot Project Phase 3 was signed on July 15 (Brussels time) by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC), the Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) of the European Commission and the Customs administrations of 15 European Union (EU) member states (comprising Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United Kingdom), which drove the project to new horizons.
The Mainland and the EU were Hong Kong's top two trading partners in 2015. Strengthening ties with the Mainland and the EU on trade facilitation fronts will bring extensive benefits to the three economies, especially under the current grim economic environment.
Riding on the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade adopted by the WCO, SSTL Pilot Project aims at enabling traders to enjoy more efficient and predictable cargo clearance at both exporting and importing ends through enhanced Customs-to-Customs and Customs-to-Business co-operation. For SSTL Pilot Project Phase 3, the scope of operation will be extended to air and rail transport in addition to maritime transport in the first two phases with an addition of pilot trade routes and participating traders.
In addition to the JAA on the SSTL Pilot Project, the Assistant Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Jimmy Tam, also signed with the Minister Counsellor of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), Australia, Ms Abigail Bradshaw, an Action Plan on July 15 (Brussels time) to formally announce the development of a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on the Hong Kong AEO Programme and the Australian Trusted Traders (ATT) programme. This Action Plan formally initiates the MRA negotiation process between Australia and Hong Kong.
Under the MRA, the trade facilitative benefits such as reduced inspection or prioritised clearance provided by the C&ED to its AEOs will be extended to the members of the ATT programme of the DIBP and vice versa.
The C&ED aspires to further contribute to the security and facilitation of global trade and will continue to actively participate in the SSTL Pilot Project and take active steps to develop MRAs with other Customs administrations with a view to enabling traders to enjoy more clearance benefits at an international level.
Ends/Saturday, July 16, 2016