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Cambodia adopts ASEAN service for customs clearance

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A view of a container storage yard at the Sihanoukville autonomous port. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia adopts ASEAN service for customs clearance

Cambodian importers and exporters can now apply for ASEAN Customs Declaration Documents (ACDD) electronically through the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) said on December 24.

The documents will be recognised by authorities of the 10 ASEAN member states, which brings the facilitation of trade and customs clearance in the region up a notch.

The GDCE said it will implement the “exchange of ACDD and ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement [ATIGA] e-Form D which are issued by the authorities of the ASEAN member states from the date of the announcement”.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the paperless system initiative marks significant progress for cross-border trade promotion and trade facilitation that the private sector has been calling for.

The move “also contributes to reducing the bureaucracy and customs barriers. We have observed that the government has been modernised not only in customs and excise but also in taxation”, he said, noting that technology use has cut down on face-to-face interactions.

“We wish to see this kind of paperless system be applied not only among ASEAN member states but also with other countries,” Heng said.

The ASW is a regional initiative that links and integrates the National Single Windows (NSWs) of the 10 ASEAN member states, according to the ASEAN Secretariat.

“The ASW’s objective is to expedite cargo clearance and promote ASEAN economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border trade-related documents among ASEAN member states,” it said.

Anthony Galliano, the group CEO of financial services firm Cambodian Investment Management Holding Co Ltd, pointed out that Cambodia now interfaces with other participating ASEAN members who have successfully adopted the ASW initiative.

“Cambodia can take advantage of this secure IT architecture and legal framework that will allow trade, transport and commercial data to be exchanged electronically among government agencies and the trading community,” he said.

Among the benefits are the seamless, secure and reliable exchange of data based on international standards between member states and trading partners, he said.

Additional benefits include a binding legal framework that governs both domestic and cross-border exchange of data and visibility of data on cargo clearance between member states that provides valuable information on economic integration, he added.

“The ATIGA e-Form D facilitates cargo clearance process, reduces cost, accelerates process time, and results in transparency, and trade efficiency and competitiveness,” Galliano explained.

According to the ASEAN Secretariat, all 10 countries in the bloc had joined the ASW Live Operation by the end of last year, where it said “the grating of preferential tariff treatment would be based on the Electronic Certificate of Origin – ATIGA e-Form D – exchanged through the ASW.

“The ASW Live Operation will continue to open a vast window of opportunities for ASEAN to include more documents, such as [ACDD], electronic Phytosanitary Certificate [e-Phyto], electronic Animal Health Certificate [e-AH] and electronic Food Safety Certificate [e-FS] Certificate to be exchanged through the ASW in the future,” it said.

According to the secretariat, total ASEAN food exports clocked in at $55.6 billion in 2018, while food imports surged to $43.2 billion, accounting for 9.2 and 7.3 per cent of global food exports and imports.

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