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Arrangement signed between Mainland and Hong Kong Customs to facilitate goods clearance (with photos)

     The Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Clement Cheung, and the Vice-Minister of the General Administration of China Customs (GACC), Mr Sun Yibiao, signed an Arrangement in Beijing today (October 29) to mutually recognise the GACC's Measures on Classified Management of Enterprises and the Customs and Excise Department's (C&ED) Hong Kong Authorized Economic Operator Programme. The Arrangement, while promoting a secure and seamless flow of goods across the Mainland-Hong Kong boundary, will further strengthen the trade competitiveness of local companies.

     Under the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), local companies accredited by the C&ED as Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) can enjoy clearance facilitation, such as reduced examination or prioritised clearance, for their goods imported from or exported to the Mainland. Similarly, Mainland companies which have been certified by GACC as "AA" class (equivalent to AEO) will have their exports of goods cleared expeditiously upon arrival in Hong Kong.

     Welcoming the MRA, Mr Cheung said at the signing ceremony, "This is the first MRA that we have reached with other Customs administrations. It carries significant meaning to us. The Mainland is the most important trading partner of Hong Kong.  The facilitative measures to be provided under the MRA will enable local companies to tap into the vast Mainland market, bringing more business opportunities to the import/export and logistics industries, thereby sustaining Hong Kong's long-term economic development.

     "The implementation of the AEO programme in Hong Kong helps provide a safer and more efficient trading environment for the industry. This will help enhance the confidence of our trading partners in Hong Kong's handling of export and transshipment cargoes, consolidating Hong Kong's position as a leading international logistics hub," Mr Cheung added.

     The concept of AEOs was advocated by the World Customs Organization to promote safer international trading. Customs authorities accredit companies that satisfy certain security requirements as AEOs. In return, cargoes handled by AEOs may enjoy enhanced Customs facilitation.

     The development of AEO programmes has become a global trend and a number of economies, including most of Hong Kong's principal trading partners, have rolled out their programmes. Some have established MRAs among themselves, whereby AEOs of one economy may enjoy facilitation provided by others.  
     The C&ED launched the Programme in April 2012. Participation is open, voluntary and free of charge. Any local companies engaging in business principally related to the international supply chain are welcome to apply.

     Since its implementation, the Programme has received a positive response from the industry and more than 20 applications have been received. So far, 11 companies have been accredited, including multi-national companies and local small and medium-sized enterprises engaging in importing/exporting, manufacturing or freight forwarding industries.  

     Looking ahead, apart from continuously promoting the Programme to local industry and assisting companies in preparing for the accreditation, the C&ED will also take active steps to develop MRAs with other Customs administrations.  Bilateral meetings with the Korea, Singapore and India Customs have commenced.  Discussions are in good progress.  

Ends/Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:05


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