Hong Kong and India Customs sign Arrangement to mutually recognise respective Authorized Economic Operator Programmes (with photo)

28 Nov 2013

The Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Clement Cheung, and the Chairperson of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) of the Government of India, Ms Praveen Mahajan, signed an Arrangement in Hong Kong today (November 28) to mutually recognise the respective Authorized Economic Operator Programmes.

Under the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), local companies accredited by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) as Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) can enjoy clearance facilitation, such as reduced examination or prioritised clearance, for their goods imported from or exported to India. Similarly, Indian companies which have been certified by the CBEC as AEOs can enjoy clearance facilitation provided by the C&ED.

Welcoming the MRA, Mr Cheung said at the signing ceremony, "India is one of the principal trading partners of Hong Kong and has maintained sustained economic growth over the past few years. The facilitative measures to be provided under the MRA will enable local companies to tap into the vast India market, bringing more business opportunities to the import/export and logistics industries."

Mr Cheung added, "This is the second MRA that we have reached with other Customs administrations after the Mainland's. Through the MRA, we aim to provide the industry with a faster clearance service, helping them to minimise their transportation costs which, in turn, will enhance their overall competitiveness."

The concept of AEO is advocated by the World Customs Organization to promote safer international trading. Customs authorities accredit companies that satisfy certain security requirements as AEOs. In return, cargoes handled by AEOs may enjoy enhanced Customs facilitation.

The development of AEO programmes has become a global trend. A number of economies, including most of Hong Kong's principal trading partners, have rolled out their programmes. Some of them have established among themselves MRAs, whereby AEOs of one economy may enjoy facilitation provided by the others.

Participation in the Hong Kong AEO Programme is open, voluntary and free of charge. Any local company engaging in business principally related to the international supply chain is welcome to apply. Since its implementation in April 2012, the C&ED, so far, has accredited 11 companies as AEOs including multinational companies and local SMEs.

Looking ahead, the C&ED will continue to take active steps to develop MRAs with other Customs administrations, taking into account that it would enable traders to enjoy more clearance benefits at an international level. In addition, the C&ED expects to enter into MRAs with the Korea and Singapore Customs in the first two quarters of 2014.

Ends/Thursday, November 28 2013

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