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Air cargo industry call for customs push

[ February 26, 2013   //   ]

Michael Steen

The Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG) is calling for customs procedures to be a key part of international trade talks and, if necessary, for trade f

acilitation to be dealt with separately from other, more controversial aspects of the ongoing discussions.

GACAG said it welcomed an agreement by World Trade Organisation (WTO) aimed at restarting the stalled Doha Round of negotiations, reached on 25 February. The international talks aimed at lowering trade barriers and streamlining trade rules have dragged on for years without tangible result, but WTO chairman Pacal Lamy was able to report that negotiators are focusing on “deliverables” for the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, urging WTO members to redouble their efforts. However, many commentators see bilateral deals such as the recently launched transatlantic trade deal between the EU and US as less fraught and more likely to yield results.

Nevertheless, GACAG said any initiatives that help ease international trade transactions by reducing border impediments would bring economic benefits. Chairman Michael Steen said: “Salvaging an agreement on trade facilitation from the Doha Round of negotiations would represent a major success for the WTO and its members and would have

an enormously positive effect on the volume and flow of international trade and offer more opportunities for cost efficiencies.”

He added that an agreement would promote simplification of customs procedures globally, and he urged the WTO to take this part of the agreement forward, “even if that means severing the trade facilitation agreement from the rest of the Doha Round.”

GACAG believes that, at a minimum, a WTO trade facilitation agreement should require customs authorities to provide online information about customs practices, including regulations and whenever possible to do so both in both national language(s) and in English. It also wants to see customs administrations provide binding advance rulings and independent, administrative reviews and appeals as part of more transparent, paperless and regularly modernized procedures.

GA
In its position paper of WTO Trade Facilitation, the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group also wants to see post-release reconciliation and post-entry audits permitted, separate physical release of cargo from its fiscal release, the provision of a “single window” automation system applicable to all border agencies, and faster release for shipments that meet specified criteria, such as the provision in advance of relevant data in electronic format.CAG also wants customs authorities to promote greater integrity, including taking appropriate steps to protect the confidentiality of data. It says risk assessment should be the guiding principle in the evaluation of data and in enforcement actions and calls for a formal process to be established for consulting with the trading community on new rules and procedures.

Penalties should be proportionate to offences and the party’s compliance record, and allow for the mitigation of penalties through a transparent, well documented process.

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