1. The Ninth Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs was held on 13-14 July 2001 in Makati, Philippines. 

2. Attending the Meeting were: Pg. Hj. Naserudin Bin Pg. Hj. Tejudin, Deputy Controller of Royal Customs and Excise, Brunei Darussalam; Mr. Pen Siman, Delegate of the Royal Government in charge of Customs and Excise Department, Cambodia; Mr. Irwan Ridwan, Director of International Affairs, Directorate-General of Customs and Excise, Indonesia; Mr. Nouhack Nalukhot, Director-General of Customs, Lao PDR; Dato’ Ibrahim Mat, Deputy Director-General of the Royal Customs and Excise Department, Malaysia; Lt. Col. Khin Maung Linn, Director-General of Customs, Myanmar; Mr. Koh Chong Hwa, Director-General of Customs and Excise Department, Singapore; Mrs. Naengnoi Naranong, Deputy Director-General of the Royal Thai Customs Department, Thailand; Mr. Le Manh Hung, Deputy Director-General of the General Department of Customs, Viet Nam; and their respective delegations.  Staff of the ASEAN Secretariat were also in attendance.

3. Mr Titus Villanueva, Commissioner of the Philippine Bureau of Customs, chaired the meeting.

Opening Ceremony

4. Undersecretary of Finance Cornelio C. Gison delivered the keynote address on behalf of H.E. Jose Isidro Camacho, the Secretary of Finance of the Philippines.  He welcomed the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs to the Philippines.   Noting that tariffs under AFTA would be reduced to 0-5% by 1 January 2002 for the six initial members of ASEAN, he emphasized the important role that ASEAN customs administrations can play in supporting the realization of AFTA, through the harmonisation of tariff nomenclature, simplification of customs procedures and adoption of the WTO Valuation Agreement.  He expressed confidence that the Ninth Meeting of the Directors-General would see important progress made in the fifteen areas under the Customs Policy Implementation and Work Programme (PIWP).  He noted that many of the areas in the PIWP, such as transparency, automation, human resource development and partnership with the business sector, were also being given priority by the Philippine government.  He welcomed the initiative taken by the ASEAN Directors-General to reach out to other customs administrations in the region, particularly Japan, and to the ASEAN private sector.

5. The Secretary of Finance expressed his appreciation to the contribution made by Myanmar, which served as the Chair of the Directors-General of Customs Meeting during the past year.  He also thanked Mr. Yoshio Tamura, the Director General of Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau, who attended the Opening Ceremony, for sharing Japan’s trade experience and technical knowledge with ASEAN customs administrations. 

ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature

6. The Directors-General endorsed the ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) and agreed on its implementation beginning 1 January 2002.  The AHTN will create a harmonised tariff nomenclature at the eight-digit level for the ten ASEAN countries.  The AHTN would contain 10,800 tariff lines from all ten Member Countries.  Its implementation in year 2002 would coincide with the implementation of the latest Harmonised System (HS) code of the World Customs Organisation, upon which it is based. 

7. The Directors-General agreed on the importance of conducting the necessary preparatory steps for the implementation of the AHTN, including training, preparation of correlation tables, translation and publication of the AHTN, information dissemination to the private sector, and revision of computer codes or programs.  In this connection, they were pleased to note that a regional training was scheduled in the latter part of the year to train customs officials on the AHTN.

Policy Implementation and Work Programme

8. The Directors-General recalled the mandate by the ASEAN Leaders to conduct a mid-term review of the Ha Noi Plan of Action (HPA) and to report the outcome to the ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam in November 2001.  They therefore reviewed the progress made in customs cooperation, and in particular, the implementation of the ASEAN Customs Policy Implementation and Work Programme (PIWP).  They concluded that the implementation of the PIWP was gradually leading ASEAN towards its vision of a world-class customs service.  They agreed to the continuing relevance of the HPA section on customs and encouraged Member Countries to expedite realization of the targets.

9. The Directors-General noted that Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have already implemented the WTO Valuation Agreement. They further noted that based on these administrations’ experience, there had been no adverse effect on customs revenues.  However, the lack of expertise and knowledge on the part of both Customs officers and importers/businesses on the new valuation method contributed to difficulties in implementation.  Hence, the Directors General agreed that sufficient familiarisation and training programme, workshops and seminars should be organised,  

10. The Directors-General welcomed the technical assistance that was provided by the Korea Customs Service to ASEAN Member Countries on customs valuation through a seminar held in Korea in November 2000.  They also expressed the hope that New Zealand Customs Service would continue its technical assistance to the new members as they prepare themselves for ultimate implementation of the Agreement.

11. The Directors-General noted that Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam had already established post-clearance systems and undertaken field audits.  They further noted the efforts being made by the other Member Countries to implement post-clearance audit systems.  To strengthen the existing PCA systems or assist in the establishment of such systems, a long-term expert had been dispatched to the ASEAN customs administrations to review the systems or the plans and make appropriate recommendations.  The Directors-General also noted that work was being undertaken to develop a manual on post-clearance audit (PCA), which would include best practices of developed countries and case studies, to serve as reference to ASEAN Member countries. 

12. The Directors-General discussed the benefits of accession to the ATA Carnet, which would allow the temporary admission of goods intended for exhibition with minimal customs intervention and procedures. Noting that only Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand had acceded to the convention, the Directors-General encouraged other Member Countries to seriously consider accession.  Noting that the implementation of the Carnet required participation of the local chamber of commerce and industry, they agreed to seek the support of the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

13. Malaysian Customs and the representatives of the air express carrier industry made a presentation to the Directors-General on the development of Project ACCESS  (ASEAN Customs Clearance and Express Services).  The Directors General lauded the pilot project as an example of the partnership between the ASEAN customs administrations and the private sector.  The project will create a state-of-the-art processing system for air express consignments.  The Directors-General were pleased to note that the project would soon be expanded to cover Viet Nam.

14. The Tenth Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs would be held in Singapore in the year 2002.

Consultations with the Japanese Director-General of Customs

15. The Directors-General met with Mr Yoshio Tamura, Director General of Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau.  They briefed Japan on the progress made in implementing the customs PIWP and thanked Japan for its assistance in the work on post clearance audit and tariff nomenclature.  They expressed their profound thanks for the services of Mr Ichiharu Kusahara, whose unflagging effort and unparalleled expertise, was instrumental in finalising the AHTN.   They noted that the PCA expert on post clearance audit was currently assisting ASEAN members’ efforts to institute post-clearance audit systems and to draft a manual on PCA implementation.  Japan’s assistance had also included training to the new ASEAN members in the valuation and automation.  The consultations also discussed possible future cooperation to cover the rest of the PIWP.  The Directors-General and Mr Yoshio Tamura exchanged views on the latest developments in WCO and APEC and agreed to consult closely on further developments in these matters.   

Private Sector Consultations

16. The Directors-General held their fifth annual consultation with representatives of the private sector in ASEAN.  On hand for the meeting were the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry, led by Mr Jose Concepcion, and the US-ASEAN Business Council, led by Mr Philip Gielczyk.During the consultations, presentations were made by the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Automotive Trade Policy Council, the Confederation of Asia Pacific Express Carriers (CAPEC) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.