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ASEAN countries launch customs system to boost trade

ASEAN ministers launch customs tool
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Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) countries have launched the ASEAN Customs Transit Systems (ACTS) to improve the flow of goods across the region.

The announcement builds on a commitment made in 2017, when ministers set the twin goals of reducing trade transaction costs by 10% by 2020 and doubling intra-ASEAN trade between 2017 and 2025.

To realise this goal, ACTS has been developed to allow businesses to lodge e-transit declarations directly with ASEAN Customs Authorities and to track the movement of their goods from loading at departure to delivery at the final destination.

Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, said: “The implementation of the ASEAN Customs Transit System plays a vital role in facilitating seamless movement of goods in the region. I believe the system would be an excellent tool in enhancing ASEAN’s trade and production networks as well as establishing a more unified market for its firms and consumers.”

“The ACTS could also support post COVID recovery to accelerate the transit movement of medical supplies, vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment within the Member States,” Jock Hoi said.

ACTS will simplify the movement of goods across the region, making it more efficient and cost-effective. Under the ACTS, the private sector can make a single customs transit declaration that covers the transport of goods across multiple ASEAN countries, without the need to make repeated Customs declarations or change vehicles at each border.

Special arrangements allow reliable traders to load their goods at their own premises in the country of departure, and to deliver the goods to their own premises at destination.

Faster Customs clearance at borders helps accelerate transit movements, and reduce the time and expense of carrying out regional trade in goods, to the benefit of producers and consumers across the continental ASEAN region.

The system is managed by a permanent ACTS Central Management Team based in the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, with support from the EU-funded ARISE Plus programme.

Koen Doens, Director General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission, commented: “The ACTS is a remarkable achievement that is testament to the strong, dynamic and long-standing partnership between ASEAN and the European Union.

“The ACTS will make the movement of goods by road quicker and easier across the borders of the participating ASEAN Member States, thereby reducing costs for businesses and citizens. The EU is proud to have joined ASEAN to make the ACTS a reality, providing European technical expertise and EUR 10 million since 2012, in addition to the EUR 5 million invested by our ASEAN partners.”

ARISE Plus has provided extensive ACTS training for stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including customs authorities, government transport agencies, freight forwarders, transporters, banks and insurance companies.

Following the ASEAN Customs Transit System pilot activities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the system has now been formally launched.

The first successful ACTS transit movement occurred on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October with a truck travelling from Singapore via Malaysia to Thailand. The system will soon be available in Myanmar, and depending on business needs may later be expanded to Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.

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