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EU - China Customs cooperation

In 2004, the Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the People's Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters was signed in The Hague (see Official Journal L375 of 23 December 2004, p.20). This agreement provides for a framework for customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance between the EU and China and establishes the EU-China Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC), which oversees the proper functioning of the agreement.

The JCCC normally meets annually, alternately in the EU and in China. The 6th meetingpdf Choose translations of the previous link  took place on 25 June 2012 in Brussels.

The agreement provides for an effective communication and cooperation mechanism between the customs authorities in the EU and China. It allows them to assist one another to ensure the proper application of customs legislation and to prevent, investigate and combat any breaches. For example, European officials may, under certain conditions, be present at enquiries into smuggling activities carried out in China and vice versa.  

On the basis of this agreement European and Chinese customs authorities work together in a number of fields, such as the fight against counterfeits and piracy, supply chain security & trade facilitation, and the prevention of diversion of drug precursors.   

Promoting legitimate trade

In 2010 Commissioner Šemeta and Chinese Minister of Customs Sheng signed the Strategic Framework for Cooperation – Enhancing EU-China Customs Cooperation to Promote Legitimate Trade.

The aim of this Framework is to increase coherence in the different fields of cooperation and to bring them under a single management structure. It also determines clear priorities and objectives for the period up until end of 2012.  The main fields of cooperation are:

Combating counterfeit and piracy

The 2009 EU-China Action Plan on Intellectual Property Rights Customs Enforcement was extended until the end of 2012 by Commissioner Šemeta and Chinese Customs Minister Sheng in the margins of the 3rd EU-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (December 2010, Beijing.)
The Action Plan entails:

  • exchange and analysis of information on seizures, trends and general risks
  • creation of a network of ports and airports to target high-risk consignments
  • better cooperation with other law enforcement authorities
  • establishment of joint partnerships between business communities in China and the EU.

Supply-chain security and trade facilitation

In 2006, the EU and China launched the Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL) pilot project to strengthen end-to-end supply chain security based on multi-layered risk management.

Controls performed at export allow customs to better target dangerous traffic at the beginning of the supply chain. Thus trade-facilitation benefits can be provided to legitimate trade.

The operational phase began in 2007 with the customs administrations of China, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom exchanging electronic information on sea containers (see press release Choose translations of the previous link  ). This first phase involved the shipment of over 5,000 containers.

In 2011 the number of participating ports increased from 3 to 9. In the EU, the ports of Antwerp, Genoa, Hamburg and Le Havre joined Felixstowe and Rotterdam. In China, Chongqing and Shanghai joined Shenzhen. The scope broadened to cover non-Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) companies, as well as transhipped and consolidated containers. (see press releasepdf Choose translations of the previous link  ).

The EU and China are also working together towards the mutual recognition of each other's Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) programmes. This would offer both sides benefits by facilitating trade between certified trustworthy traders. It also enables customs authorities to focus attention on high-risk traders.

Drug precursors

Drug precursors are chemical substances frequently used to manufacture illicit drugs such as ecstasy or amphetamines.

The 2009 EU-China Agreement on drug precursors  (see page 8) and substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances provides for cooperation in trade monitoring and mutual administrative assistance on drug precursors.

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