U.S. Companies Explore Expanded Cooperation with ASEAN's Customs Authorities

(Singapore) – Yesterday, the US-ASEAN Business Council joined a virtual discussion of the 30th Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs. The meeting was part of 24-year long engagement between the Council and the 10 ASEAN Directors-General of Customs that has examined ways to improve trade connections in Southeast Asia. The Council’s delegation of eight leading U.S. companies was led by Senior Vice-President and Regional Managing Director of the Council, Ambassador Michael Michalak, as well as Chair of the Council’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee and Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability for UPS Asia Pacific, Shiumei Lin.

During the consultation, the Council’s delegation raised various topics imperative to the currently evolving global trade landscape, including mitigation for the COVID-19 vaccine importation processes; initiatives to facilitate cross-border e-commerce; and implementation of the ASEAN Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program. The Council also commended the hard work of all ASEAN Customs authorities in keeping trade and supply chains open for essential goods, medical and food supplies. With regards to e-commerce, the Council highlighted three priority areas for the Customs DGs’ attention, namely to expedite the ASEAN Low Value Shipment Program implementation, to adopt trusted trader certification scheme for e-commerce players, and to explore potential technology solutions to address the existing Customs policy challenges. On potential technology solutions, the Council and member companies are committed to providing capacity building and technical assistance for ASEAN Customs through the Transformative Technology in Trade workshop series that will be held in July and August of this year.

“As we strive towards economic recovery, modernization of Customs regime is critical to facilitate rapid, contactless and accurate border clearance processes and risk management,” said Ambassador Michalak. “One of the key contributors to a more simplified Customs procedures is adoption of transformative technologies, which would not only help to facilitate faster clearance processes, but also accelerate e-commerce and eventually contribute to the long-term economic growth in the region”, he added.

Shiumei Lin also highlighted that, “The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated online shopping and cross-border e-Commerce by quite a few years. To be ready for this, we call on ASEAN to turbo-charge the e-commerce agenda which it has embarked on. There is now an even greater imperative to facilitate low-value shipments, address the specific idiosyncrasies of e-Commerce trade, and adopt technology including emerging technologies to develop effective solutions for risk management.”

Companies participating in the delegation included FedEx, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Nike, Dow Chemical, 3M, Philip Morris, and UPS.

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For over 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.