The ASEAN Leaders’ decision to create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is intended to introduce the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour, and freer flow of capital in the region. For the AEC to take root, the establishment of a fully harmonised Customs and Transport environment is of the highest priority. The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Goods in Transit (AFAFGIT - Ha Noi, 1998) is a core instrument for the realization of these objectives and provides for nine high level Protocols that set out generic standards to be put into place for the implementation of an international transit system. The practical objective of the AFAFGIT is the creation of a regional environment in which a vehicle operating under the transit system can move goods by road from a point of departure in any ASEAN Member State (AMS) to a point of destination in any other Member State via any number of transit countries without intermediate unloading and with minimal procedures at borders. Under the purview of Transport, the key Protocols of the AFAFGIT are Protocols 1, 3, 4 and 5, while Protocols 2 and 7 are under the purview of Customs. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to conduct the pilot in order to test the AFAFGIT Protocols in action with industry. For the purpose of the pilot,
Protocols 6, 8 and 9 are excluded from operationalization.
Guided by the AFAFGIT and its protocols, the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) is a computerised Customs transit management system available to operators who move goods across borders without paying the required duties and taxes otherwise due when the goods enter (or leave) the country thus requiring only one (final) Customs formality. It offers an administratively simple and cost advantageous procedure to carry goods across Customs territories outside the normal import and export Customs regimes.
The ACTS facilitates trade by allowing traders to transport their goods freely between the participating countries. This means that a truck can travel from its point of loading (Departure) to its destination in a different country with fewer obstacles and delays. There is no need for a different Customs declaration at each border, and no need to transfer the goods to a different truck in each country. The duties and taxes at risk are covered by a single guarantee for all the countries involved in the transit operation. All the related information is transmitted through the network from the office of departure to the transit offices and the office of destination. To facilitate the movement of goods the Transport Authorities of AMS have agreed to license 500 qualifying vehicles to operate across borders. However, for the implementation of the pilot stage, participating AMS have agreed to issue up to 100 licences for the live run phase. The implementation of the ACTS will be coordinated by the Customs Authorities and the Land Transport authorities of participating AMS.
Who can participate?
All traders which include importers, exporters, transporters, freight forwarders and Customs agents are eligible to use the ACTS to transport goods across borders. However, the potential users must register as transit traders with the Customs Administration (CA) of participating AMS. Each CA will have a set of guidelines on the criteria for eligibility and process of application.
The governing protocol also provides for the approval of Authorised Transit Traders status. However, to be given this status, applicants will have to meet the qualifying criteria set by the individual ASEAN Member States to be eligible for the ATT status. The authority and right to give ATT status lies with relevant competent authorities of participating AMS. The ATT status will allow the qualified trader to use a simplified declaration process as set by the competent authorities.
Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore participated in the pilot stage of ACTS implementation. The pilot ran from November 2016 until April 2017. This included the electronic exchange of test data followed by a Parallel Run phase using transit declarations submitted to ACTS in parallel with current declarations for real transit operations. The live movement of goods using the ACTS system will be carried out in a later phase, once the legal environment is in place. On the conclusion of the pilot phase it is envisaged that the ACTS will be rolled fully amongst three pilot countries with the objective to include other land-based ASEAN countries later, depending on their readiness.
For more information, go to https://acts.asean.org/acts.