U.S. Businesses support facilitating e-Commerce, tackling illicit trade and counterfeits, and industry participation in Mutual Recognition Agreements

(Vientiane) - Facilitating e-Commerce, tackling illicit trade and counterfeits, and industry participation in Mutual Recognition Agreements for Authorized Economic Operators were primary areas of discussion between the Council-led delegation of U.S. businesses and ASEAN Customs officials during the Council’s annual mission to the ASEAN Customs Directors General Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. The Mission, from June 11-12, brought top executives from 9 U.S. companies to meet with officials from all 10 ASEAN member states.

“As the centerpiece of the Council’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee’s efforts to support a more integrated and prosperous ASEAN, this year’s mission brought attention to how technology and data can be leveraged in customs to support safe and efficient movement of goods in the region,” said Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director at the US-ASEAN Business Council. “e-Commerce, new business models, increasing trade volumes, and greater supply chain complexity are reshaping the international trade landscape, and the ongoing dialogue during these missions are critical to the success of ASEAN’s economies, SMEs, and overall participation in the global economy.”

During the mission, the Council delegation discussed collaborating with ASEAN stakeholders in existing and new platforms to support ASEAN’s efforts to make cross border trade more accessible, particularly to support the region’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to participate in global supply chains.

The delegation expressed support for initiatives to enhance cross-border e-Commerce flows. ASEAN states are among the fastest growing populations for e-Commerce and digital sectors in the world, with the e-Commerce market expected to reach US $102 billion by 2025.

Although a powerful enabler for connecting ASEAN’s SMEs to global markets, e-Commerce has also created new challenges for border agencies, postal, and express delivery services. The Council acknowledges these challenges faced by ASEAN Customs, and recommends establishing a set of customs procedures to further simplify trade, facilitate clearance, and simplify taxation.

An additional issue discussed are challenges imposed on customs officials addressing illicit trade and counterfeit goods. The member delegation recommended ways to leverage data for more effectively and efficiently capture illicit trade and counterfeit risks upstream. This approach should be complemented by efforts to educate consumers and arm stakeholders with knowledge about these risks.

Council delegates met with senior Customs officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Companies participating in the mission included Amazon, The Walt Disney Company, FedEx, Ford, Intel Corporation, Oracle, Philip Morris International, Procter & Gamble and UPS.

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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.