In the framework of the European Commission's APRIS II technical assistance programme for ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and under the auspices of the Commission's Taxation and Customs Union Directorate General, an ASEAN Seminar for Directors General of Customs took place in Brussels on 2 and 3 July 2007. APRIS II aims at supporting regional integration initiatives, including customs.
ASEAN is a grouping of ten countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand) with different levels of development and compliance with customs provisions. They need adequate systems in place and an environment of co-operation to successfully deal with issues surrounding piracy and counterfeiting, security in the supply chain and drug trafficking. Apart from the more political dimension, (including any future Free Trade Agreements) and a stable and efficient Customs operational environment in ASEAN, the aim of the seminar was to provide a clear understanding for ASEAN Directors General of Customs of the foundations of an integrated customs environment. Through extensive discussions, as well as question and answer sessions, participants had the chance to exchange views, examine international standards and best practice in the customs area in both regions and analyse the EU experience of having a Customs Union.
Director General M. Verrue presented a strategic overview of the EU Customs Union. Other issues examined during the Seminar included current Customs modernisation programmes, Customs Law and procedures; Customs Code Reform; Tariff, Binding Tariff Information, TARIC, Quotas and Suspensions; Customs IT systems; Single Administrative Document; Transit; Programme to implement e-government in European Customs (Customs 2013); Intellectual Property Rights; Security in the Supply Chain and the Management of the recent Enlargement Process.
Additionally the speakers touched on the principle of subsidiarity, VAT and other indirect taxes and related issues for Customs, Own resources and the EU's budget to complete the overview from the EC perspective. Finally, two representatives from the private sector provided the trade view of the customs union and the role of business in reforming customs. The Seminar allowed ASEAN Customs participants to allay fears and point to the positive outcomes of the EU Customs integration/co-operation exercise in terms of economic growth and trade facilitation. The whole exercise is of paramount importance to these countries in view of the regional integration they intend to achieve by 2015.