In May 1997 the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate customs cooperation agreements on behalf of the Community with regard to the ASEAN countries, taking into account the 1996 Commission Communication which encourages the reinforcement of cooperation in key areas of trade and economic development, inter alia in the customs field. In 2003, the Council of Ministers has endorsed the priority of intensifying some policy areas with the ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and stated its support to the Commission's call for rebalancing the overall relationship with South-East Asia by offering the possibility of bilateral agreements with interested countries whilst confirming the strong EU commitment to support the process of ASEAN integration.
Accordingly, the Commission is ready to start consultations with interested countries of the region in view of the negotiation of bilateral Customs Cooperation Agreements, hoping that this will open up to the other members of ASEAN. The cooperation should help custom authorities to develop new instruments for the control of the trade flows and the fight against fraud and illegal activities.
From a customs' point of view, the main objectives of the relation between EC and ASEAN are
- to establish customs co-operation between the parties as well as
- to provide a legal basis for mutual administrative assistance.
The mandate of the Council allows for the possibility to exchange information on customs legislation, procedures, and control methods, exchange of officials, joint training exercises, simplification, harmonisation and computerisation of procedures.