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Nation ups AEO agreements, supports real economy


China will deepen its cooperation with all parties concerned to promote the role of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) agreements and other policy tools to facilitate companies in resolving issues in both exports and imports, thereby boosting the flow of global trade, said Customs officials.

Advocated by the Brussels-based World Customs Organization, which represents 184 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process about 98 percent of world trade, the program is designed to strengthen international supply chain security and facilitate the movement of legitimate goods.

Under its policy framework, Customs authorities from various regions form partnerships with the industry to collaboratively cut barriers to Customs procedures and accelerate international trade efficiency.

The AEO program will further enrich the cooperative content in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in the coming years, said Wang Sheng, director-general of the department of enterprise management and audit-based control at China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC).

“In addition to getting in touch with Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines to build fresh AEO partnerships, China has communicated with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei, the four countries that have not yet established an AEO system,” Wang said, stressing that the Chinese government is willing to provide capacity-building assistance to help them establish and implement the AEO system.

After completing initial consultations on the AEO certification program with Malaysia last year, China’s GAC and Thai Customs signed an action plan for mutual recognition of AEO status early this year, marking the first such plan China has inked with an RCEP member since the pact entered into force in January. The two sides have pledged to accelerate talks on AEO mutual recognition.

China had signed AEO agreements with Customs authorities in 48 countries and regions, including Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Brazil, to enable easier Customs clearance for companies by the end of June 2022.

Among them, five countries, including Singapore, South Korea and Japan, are RCEP signatories.

After the GAC introduced the Criteria for Advanced Certified Enterprises under the AEO program, including general and specific criteria for consignees and consignors of imported and exported goods, in late 2021, China Ocean Shipping Agency Rizhao Co Ltd, or Penavico Rizhao-a Shandong province-based cross-border logistics service provider-gained AEO certification from Rizhao Customs, a branch of Qingdao Customs, in early August.

Eager to secure more market share, the State-owned company established a working team to apply for AEO certification in November 2021. Guided by Rizhao Customs, the firm has improved four areas such as internal control and financial status to check and fill regulatory gaps and upgraded its management level.

“After gaining this certificate, our clients will be able to enjoy a wider range of convenient Customs clearance measures,” said Fu Zhiqiang, president of Penavico Rizhao, a subsidiary of Shanghai-based China COSCO Shipping Corp Ltd, the country’s largest shipping company by sales revenue.

“Besides improving the Customs clearance speed by 60 percent from the previous year, it will help our clients save about 10 percent in logistics costs,” he said, noting this will be helpful for the company to increase its earning strength during China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

Lan Nini, head of the enterprise supervision unit at Rizhao Customs, said that apart from enjoying preferential Customs clearance procedures for imported and exported goods, greatly reducing inspection rates and gaining international mutual recognition, more than 40 central government branches-including the National Development and Reform Commission and the People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank-have all offered corresponding preferential and convenient treatment to both domestic and overseas AEO certification holders.

“To further ease the pressure brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and support the real economy, we will assist more export-oriented companies to become qualified AEO certification holders, and help them cut operational costs and raise work efficiency,” said Lan, noting that these efforts will further ensure the smooth flow of companies’ supply chains and contribute to the tangible growth of the Belt and Road Initiative.

China’s foreign trade grew 10.4 percent year-on-year to 23.6 trillion yuan ($3.44 trillion) during the first seven months, while its trade with economies participating in the BRI and other RCEP members soared by 19.8 percent and 7.5 percent year-on-year respectively, according to the latest GAC data.

Xia Jun, deputy director-general of the GAC’s department of port control, said with China-Europe freight train services playing a vital role in bolstering economic and trade ties between China and many countries, and stabilizing industrial and supply chains, the nation will be empowered to build AEO partnerships with more economies in Central Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe in the coming years.

He said the administration will step up efforts to continuously support the growth of new business formats such as cross-border e-commerce and international postal services.

Source : China Daily