(Singapore) – The US-ASEAN Business Council participated in the 31st Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs. For over 26 years, this engagement has served as the centerpiece of the US-ABC Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee’s efforts to support a more integrated and prosperous ASEAN.
The last two years, the Council and Customs DGs have continued maintaining trade connections amidst the towering supply-related shocks and production stoppages as the adverse effect of the global pandemic. Returning to an in-person meeting, the Council’s delegation of eight leading U.S. global corporation was led by Senior Vice-President and Regional Managing Director Ambassador Michael Michalak, as well as the Committee Chair, Shiumei Lin, Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability for UPS Asia Pacific. A strong camaraderie between the Customs Officials and Council members was notably felt, which reinforces the importance of trade relations between the region and the American business community for the years to come.
During the consultation, the Council’s delegation raised various topics imperative to the currently evolving global trade landscape, including building a supply chain resilience to enhance preparedness for future crisis; promoting digitalization of customs processes to allow seamless movement of goods; facilitating shipments of low-value e-commerce goods and preventing illicit trade and counterfeiting.
Commending ASEAN Customs on the progress made on the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS), Shiumei Lin said: "Given the challenges faced by both ocean and air transportation during the pandemic, ASEAN's efforts to facilitate cross border land transport will go a long way to support the region's resilience, boosting supply chain and transportation efficiency and reliability."
To enable ASEAN to unlock its digital economy potentials, the Council also called on ASEAN Customs DGs, as the patron of trade at the borders, to support the renewal of the WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions at the upcoming 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) June 12-15. Amb. Michalak underscored that “ASEAN’s digital economy is forecasted to grow to USD 1 trillion by 2030. The failure to renew the Moratorium will jeopardize the cross-border access to knowledge and digital tools, which will impact R&D and innovation, and could also contribute to inflationary pressures, hampering fragile COVID-19 recovery efforts. All of these effects disproportionately hit the MSMEs, which is the pillar of ASEAN economies.”
In her remarks, Shiumei also emphasized the importance of continuing to press on with reforms to support the acceleration of e-commerce trade by simplifying procedures for low value shipments. "Some 40 million internet users joined ASEAN's digital economy in 2021 alone, and 8 out to 10 of them will continue to shop online. (SEA eConomy Study 2022) The tsunami of low value shipments is coming at us faster. We call on ASEAN to do more to facilitate the growing Business to Consumer (B2C) trade."
On the sideline of the Consultation, the Council’s delegation also met bilaterally with the Customs Directors-General of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Head of the World Customs Organization’s Regional Office for Capacity Building in Asia Pacific and the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community. Companies participating in the delegation included Apple, Amazon, FedEx, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris, Seagate and UPS.