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The Republic of Turkey is the Country Coordinator for the Working Group on Customs Matters for the term 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2018.

Mr. Samir AHMADOV - Executive Manager in PERMIS in charge of the Working Group.
sahmadov@bsec-organization.org

Promoting the Harmonization and Simplification of Customs Procedures in the BSEC Region

The mission of the BSEC Working Group on Customs Matters, established as an Ad Hoc Expert Group by the BSEC Council held in Komotini, Greece, on 23 April 2005, was defined as exploration of the opportunities for cooperation among the BSEC Member States in the field of customs and consideration of joint actions towards harmonizing border crossing and customs regulations. 

The Ad Hoc Expert Group was upgraded to the Working Group on Customs Matters by the decision of the 18th BSEC Council (Kyiv, 17 April 2008).

The task of the Working Group on Customs Matters is to reach the following targets:
 
• To introduce common standards of simplified and efficient customs procedures which facilitate and secure the movement of goods and carriers through borders;
• To promote the strengthening of cooperation and synchronization of the operations between different services responsible for border crossing control;
• To strengthen customs capacity to combat smuggling and customs fraud;
• To assist in combating terrorism through respective customs provisions, regulations and best practices;
• To develop mechanisms enabling the elimination of unregistered trade in the region.

The Meeting of the Heads of Customs Administrations from the BSEC Member States, held in Kyiv on 18 March 2008, adopted a Statement which calls for joint efforts to promote cooperation among customs administrations of the BSEC Member States, in order to help to reduce regional disparities and to give an impetus to the regional trade.

The Ministers in charge of Economy of the BSEC Member States in their Meeting (Yalta, 23 May 2013) adopted a Joint Declaration which calls to make efforts to continue the ongoing process of harmonization of customs and border-crossing procedures in conformity with the national legislations of the BSEC Member States.

In its activity, the Working Group is guided by the relevant provisions of the BSEC Charter and other BSEC Statutory Documents, the BSEC Economic Agenda Towards an Enhanced BSEC Partnership, the Resolutions, Decisions and Recommendations of the BSEC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Terms of Reference and the consecutive two-year Action Plans of the Working Group.

 

KEY PRIORITIES

The key priorities of the Working Group, as defined by the “BSEC Economic Agenda Towards and Enhanced BSEC Partnership”, are as follows:

• Continuing the on-going process of harmonization of customs and border crossing procedures in conformity with the national legislations, with the aim of facilitating the movement of goods and people across national boundaries
• Exchanging, where and when possible, preliminary information on vehicles and goods crossing the borders of the BSEC Member States.
• Promoting cooperation among the customs authorities of the BSEC Member States in line with the World Customs Organization requirements, including application of innovative technologies in this regard.
• Encouraging cooperation among the customs laboratories on unification methods for analysis of goods and their classification.
• Inviting the interested Member States to accede to the BSEC Agreements on Simplification of Visa Procedures for the Business people and for the Professional Lorry Drivers of the Member States, signed by the Republic of Albania, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Moldova and Republic of Turkey.

OUTPUTS

A) FACILITATING THE MOVEMENT OF GOODS AND PEOPLE ACROSS NATIONAL BOUNDARIES
In order to achieve this goal several steps have been taken by the Working Group on Customs Matters:

• The Working Group at its Meeting at BSEC Headquarters, 3-4 April 2013, encouraged the following ongoing PROJECTS/INITIATIVES RELATED TO CUSTOMS: 
 The Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation “Simplified Customs Corridor”
 The Republic of Turkey and Georgia “Joint Use of Border Gates”
 The Republic of Turkey and Ukraine “Preliminary Data Exchange”
 The Regional Project SEED “Systematic Electronic Exchange of Data”

• The Working Group also, in conformity with the priorities set out in the implementation of the Economic Agenda, invited the interested Member States to make their proposals to conduct benchmarking.

B) STRENGTHENING COOPERATION AMONG CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES BASED ON   INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

The Working Group on Customs Matters at its Meeting at BSEC Headquarters, 3-4 April 2013, discussed such elements of cooperation as the benchmarking for improvement of border crossing procedures, application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for customs operations and exchange of experience on implementation of Single Window concept in BSEC Member States.

The Working Group underlined the increasing role of ICT tools in the border crossing procedures that promote trade facilitation, particularly through developing and improving such a mechanism of simplifying border formalities as single window systems.

It was also noted that the Joint OSCE-BSEC Workshop on “Best Practices of Border Crossings– A Trade and Transport Facilitation Perspective”, based on the OSCE-UNECE Handbook, held in 3 April 2013 in BSEC Headquarters before the Working Group Meeting, is a concrete step for the implementation of the goal set by the Economic Agenda of promoting cooperation among the Customs Authorities.

C) KEY DOCUMENTS

• TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE BSEC WORKING GROUP ON CUSTOMS MATTERS
• ACTION PLAN OF THE BSEC WORKING GROUP ON CUSTOMS MATTERS (1 July 2012 – 30 June 2014)

D) INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

• OSCE, UNECE, WCO, etc.
• The Joint OSCE-BSEC Workshop on “Best Practices at Border Crossings – A Trade and Transport Facilitation Perspective” was held in Istanbul, at the BSEC Headquarters, on 3 April 2013.