FCA - UAE,Federal Customs Authority -United Arab Emirates

FCA - UAE,Federal Customs Authority -United Arab Emirates

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United Arab Emirates
Federal Customs Authority

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9/29/2013
Abu Dhabi – FCA – Sep. 29:
 The UAE stressed its keenness on the full launch of the GCC Customs Union on the date specified by Their Highnesses the leaders of the GCC countries early 2015. In its first briefing session on the latest developments about the GCC Customs Union and the UAE's initiatives to face the challenges hindering the full launch of the Union, The Federal Customs Authority (FCA) submitted several initiatives to resolve pending issues by the end of 2014 to the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Customs Union's Authority (CUA).
 In the briefing session, Khalid Al Bustani, FCA Acting Director General, said the progress of the GCC Union saw many important developments that reflect how GCC member states are keen to overcome obstacles to the Union full application.
 The CUA has recently completed many initiatives and studies pertaining to issues on the table through the transition period, he added. The CUA will refer some important resolutions in this regard to the FECC in its meeting scheduled for October 2013, for implementation according to the directives of Their Highnesses the leaders of the GCC countries in order to resolve pending issues by the end of 2014.
 In his speech during the briefing Al Bustani said that the application of the GCC Customs Union since 2003 has positively boosted the inter-GCC or foreign trade. The Union contributed to removing a slew of hindrances facing the inter-GCC trade.
 He highlighted this positive impact of the Union, noting that the UAE-GCC trade volume reached up to AED 459.2 billion (AED 195.8 billion in imports, AED 97.1 billion in exports, and AED 166.1 billion in re-exports) in 2003-2012.
 "The UAE -GCC trade surged by 405%, or AED 69.4 billion to AED 86.5 billion in 2012 from AED 17.1 billion in 2003," he added.
 The UAE has played a vital role in establishing the GCC Customs Union over the past ten years. The UAE has a large share in the inter-GCC trade and is a main gate for trade between the GCC and other countries worldwide, which reflects the UAE's position as a global trade hub on the world map.
 "The sound vision of the GCC leaders has heavily contributed to building a global economic bloc aimed at reaching economic integration through establishing a customs union between the GCC countries in the first stage, and establishing a common GCC market later on," he elaborated.
 "Over the past few years, the GCC countries made many breakthroughs towards the establishment of the GCC Customs Union. The top breakthroughs were the launch of the Common Customs Tariff System on imports, the application of the unified customs law, and the removal of many customs and non-customs restrictions on the inter-trade movement. This enhanced the Union positive impact on the inter-trade movement," he stated.
 The Customs Union progress over the past decade witnessed several impediments that preclude the achievement of GCC citizen expectations and the timely execution of the directives of the GCC leaders despite the great efforts made by competent authorities in this regard, Al Bustani said.
 The full implementation of the duty collection and distribution mechanism in the GCC countries, the customs procedures in the outlets, the plants established with national capital in the free zones and bilateral agreements, and the customs protectionism are the major challenges facing the full application of the Union, Al Bustani added.
 Thanks to the directives of the UAE good leadership, FCA was keen to back the GCC Customs Union and meet citizen expectations, achieving the UAE 2021 Vision and the federal government strategy, and the smart government initiative launched recently by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, he said.
 "During the meetings of the Union authority, the UAE presented many smart, legal and procedural initiatives to resolve pending issues during the period specified by Their Highnesses the leaders and Kings of member states. Therefore, the General Secretariat thanked the UAE in many official events," he said.
 The FCA was keen to fully coordinate with the local customs departments in the GCC countries through joint task groups and committees as well as coordination meetings, Al Bustani stressed, lauding the efforts of all contributors to the GCC Customs Union success.
 Smart initiative for customs duty collection
 The FCA, Al Bustani added, has recently submitted a smart initiative to resolve the issue of customs duty collection and fair distribution among the GCC countries. The initiative received an overwhelming response from the member states.
 The proposed mechanism relies on the use of state-of-the-art technology to collect duties and also the smart government technologies (mobile technology, internet and smart models) instead of using magnetic cards of goods data in order to define and collect the duties, he said.
 The CUA-mandated customs duty collection team addressed the initiative and admitted its significance and the mechanisms required for implementation. The presented proposals were approved and the issue will be referred to the ministers of finance and economy in the GCC countries to take a final decision in the FECC next meeting.
 The GCC countries' keenness to implement the smart mechanism proposed for duty collection will resolve other pending issues, i.e. protectionism and bilateral agreements between some GCC countries, unification of customs procedures and application of specifications and measurements, agrarian and veteran quarantine, control of counterfeits in the first access points, and the products of national plants headquartered in the GCC free zones, Al Bustani emphasized.
 The implementation of the new mechanism, he said, will ensure that the procedures applied in the initial access points with other states worldwide are not replicated in GCC outlets. The customs role among GCC countries will be limited to the procedures that were not applied in the initial access points.
 The UAE submitted this initiative to the CUA in light of its practical experience in the electronic set-off system, being a major trade gate for the GCC countries, he said. The total duty set-off among the GCC countries amounted to AED 6.3 billion since inception of the GCC Customs Union (January 2003 – early May 2013), he said.
 Transfers from the UAE to the GCC countries within customs set-off during the said period hit AED 5.2 billion, or 83.1% of the total. The set-off transfers from the GCC countries to the UAE reached AED 1.1 billion only, or 16.9% of the total.
 The total set-off value shows that the value of goods and commodities subject to the set-off fees totaled AED 126 billion during the previously mentioned period, taking into account that almost 450 commodities are exempt from duties, including foodstuffs that are widely exchanged among the GCC countries, he said.
 Unification of customs procedures in GCC outlets
 The UAE presented an initiative to unify the customs and inspection procedures among the GCC countries to put an end to unnecessary procedures hindering the easy movement of trade among these countries, said the FCA Deputy Director General.
 The FCA took this initiative due to its experience in unifying the customs and inspection procedures across outlets in the UAE through a task group of the local customs departments and the FCA in line with the federal government strategy, he said.
 "Unified guidelines were developed across the UAE for customs and inspection procedures and these facilitated the trade movement and release of freights in a record time," Al Bustani added.
 Unifying customs and inspection procedures in the UAE was pursuant to the best international practice and agreements in this regard. Accordingly, the GCC countries welcomed the proposed initiative that will be discussed in the FECC next meeting.
 He also stressed the positive effects of the proposed unification on the GCC Customs Union, adding that the unification in the first access points across the GCC countries will save other outlets applying the same procedures. Thus, the major obstacle to the full launch of the Union will be overcome.
 Task groups to study protectionism and free zone plants:
 Al Bustani praised the Union Authority and FCA's efforts to resolve pending issues ahead of the close of the transition period by the end of 2014. The FCA formed many task groups from the GCC countries to consider the issues of protectionism and the plants established with national capital in the free zones and bilateral agreements, and proposing fair solutions in light of aggrandizing the benefit of national capital and granting their products the privilege of free movement among the GCC countries.
 The UAE also presented some humanitarian and social initiatives to meet the demands and expectations of GCC citizens like exempting the goods of people with special needs from duties, electronic connection and information exchange between the GCC countries to protect the society, facilitate trade and enhance cooperation with other states worldwide.

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