US-ASEAN Business Council Encourages ASEAN to Further Simplify Customs Procedures

(Bandung, Indonesia) The US-ASEAN Business Council held its 11th annual consultation with the ASEAN Customs Directors-General (DGs) in Bandung, Indonesia last week. Members of the Council delegation, which included senior representatives from IBM, Levi Strauss & Co and Kraft Foods Asia, made a series of presentations at the session covering issues related to Supply Chain Security, ASEAN Single Window and other customs related issues. The delegation was led by Andrew Jackson, Chairman of the Council’s Customs Working Group.

At the consultation, the delegation applauded efforts by ASEAN customs administrations to improve and simplify customs procedures, such as through the creation of an ASEAN Single Window by 2012 for the expeditious clearance of imports. However, the delegation urged ASEAN to continue to focus on trade facilitation initiatives. "With the increasing competition from China and India, ASEAN customs administrations need to adopt modern and transparent procedures that will make the region more attractive to foreign investors," said Mr. Jackson, an Executive Program Manager for IBM's Import Compliance Office (Asia Pacific).

In addition to the annual consultation, the Council delegation had bilateral meetings with the Directors-General from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The delegation also met with the senior customs official from Singapore and the ASEAN Secretariat. At the bilateral meetings, the Council had productive discussions on a range of trade facilitation and supply chain security issues and welcomed the open dialogue with individual DGs on a range of company specific issues. "These bilateral discussions will definitely serve to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between US business and individual ASEAN customs administrations," Mr Jackson added.

ASEAN is the third largest overseas market for U.S. exports, and two-way U.S.-ASEAN trade totaled US$160 billion in 2006. ASEAN customs administrations have a central role to play in ensuring that the market for goods and services and two-way trade continue to grow and expand.

Formed in 2005, the Customs Working Group has over 25 members. The Group focuses on the elimination of trade barriers and the promotion of trade facilitation in the ASEAN region through concrete proposals and activities.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.