European and Asian representatives met in Prague on May 15-17 to discuss ways of enhancing customs cooperation between the two regions.

With Europe-Asia trade valued at almost 900 million euros a year, agreement on more efficient customs procedures and greater transparency in the sector is important. Customs cooperation is therefore a key issue within ASEM, the process of Asia-Europe Meetings launched in Bangkok in 1996.

ASEM cooperation on customs questions aims at facilitating legitimate trade but also helps enhance supply chain security by allowing for targeted controls of identified high-risk cargo. European and Asian customs authorities are working to connect and share best practices to enable more efficient procedures, thereby ensuring the timely release of cargo and increasing predictability and transparency of trade.

ASEM customs activities have been focused on trade facilitation and security of supply chains, combating IPR Infringements, protecting society and the environment and dialogue with business. Efforts made in these four areas were presented and reviewed in Prague.

The meeting opened with the 4th ASEM Customs-Trade Day on May 15, an annual event held ahead of the customs working group meetings to engage the private sector on best practices and ensure attention for priorities of business.

ASEM senior officials from national customs administrations meet once every two years, with the last meeting held in Thailand in 2011. Customs experts meet every year.