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ASEAN launches arrangement to hasten customs clearances processes

The arrangement will allow for higher cost savings amongst businesses, said Finance Minster Wong

The ASEAN has launched an arrangement that will hasten customs clearance processes across the region.

Under the Joint Action Plan on the ASEAN Authorised Economic Operator – Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ASEAN AEO MRA), businesses which are successfully validated by anyone ASEAN country will have reduced documentary and cargo inspections across all ASEAN countries.

Apart from shortened inspections, Singaporean Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said businesses would also enjoy three other additional benefits from the arrangement and these are:

  1. A higher level of facilitation during customs clearance; 
  2. Priority treatment if goods have been selected for inspection; and
  3. Expedited clearance in the event of trade disruption. 

"The benefits are substantial – studies have shown that such arrangements can improve customs clearance efficiency by 30% or more. For businesses, it will mean higher cost savings. For ASEAN countries, it will mean more efficient trade with each other, so that we can remain competitive," Wong said in his speech at the 31st ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting.

READ MORE: ASEAN to remain committed to open trade

Meanwhile, Wong also underscored that ASEAN countries also need to enhance customs collaboration with their major trading partners like the US, China, Japan, and South Korea; and align customs processes in the region to common standards.

"One area that could benefit from this is e-commerce, which is a fast-growing industry in many ASEAN countries. Some countries have already simplified their customs processes and procedures to facilitate such e-commerce shipments, while others have not done so. Aligning our processes will reduce administrative costs and make our region more attractive for e-commerce," Wong said.

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