By Shada Islam - European and Asian representatives will meet in Prague on May 15-17 to discuss ways of enhancing customs cooperation between the two regions.
With trade between the EU and Asian ASEM countries valued at almost 900 billion 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.
Discussions within ASEM also aim to increase mutual awareness and allow for the coordination of multilateral policies as well as the development of joint initiatives.
In addition, they help to expand opportunities for trade and investment, encourage stronger protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and help better environmental management.
ASEM customs activities are currently focussed 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 will be presented and reviewed in Prague. The meeting will open 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.
Following up on the talks in Prague, senior ASEM customs officials will meet for the 10th ASEM meeting in Vienna on October 17–18 to agree on a strategy for Europe-Asia Customs cooperation for the next 2 years.