GCC Customs Union Authority convened its 24th meeting chaired by United Arab Emirates, the president of current session through video conference technology.
HE Ahmad Abdulla Bin Lahej Alfalasi, General Manager, FCA chaired the meeting with participation of H.E Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Chairmen, Bahrain Customs; HE Suliman Altwejri, Vice Governor of Security and International Cooperation in KSA Customs, HE Khalifa Bin Saeed Alabri, Assistant Secretary General for Economic and Development Affairs, GCC General Secretary; Brigadier General Khalifa Bin Ali Alseyabi, Director General, Oman Customs; Counselor Jamal Bin Hadel Aljalawi, Director General, Kuwait Customs General Authority; and Ahmed Bin Abdualla Aljammal, Chairman, Qatar Customs General Authority in addition to UAE delegate encompassing HE Alyia Almarmoom, Managing Director of Customs Affairs Sector in the Authority in addition to a number of officials and departments heads in the state and gulf customs.
HE Ahmad Abdulla Bin Lahej Alfalasi initiated the meeting expressing deep condolence to Kuwait delegate on the demise of the prince of humanity HH Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al Ahmed, May Allah Mercy be Upon him, and welcomed the members of participating delegates while applauding the high level cooperation between state members of the GCC Customs Union Authority and their endless keenness to provide all forms of support to bring success to the trajectory of cooperation and gulf customs union.
During the meeting, participating delegates addressed many issues and matters of customs agenda in gulf states the most prominent of which is the requisite amendments to the unified customs law, unified customs duties, customs unified guidelines, unified guideline of foreign products clearance, mutual recognition of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), common gulf market, the measures on exempting industry inputs, implementing the resolutions and arrangements on combating international trade malpractices, in addition to exploring some customs studies and state members' proposals on facilitating technology advancement to support and facilitate supply chain and customs-risks management.
HE Ahmad Abdulla Bin Lahej, meeting chairman, noted that during the meeting delegates' members discussed the proposed amendments to selected articles under the unified customs law especially those related to updating and developing customs declaration, customs duties on government needs in security sector given international trade development and emergent updates.
Moreover, UAE showcased its efforts to implement the method of direct transfer of customs duties among GCC countries which resulted in effective facilitation of inter-states trade in addition to dispatch transfer of council's states dues from inward commodities customs duties through initial entry ports in timely manner, whether through direct transfer system or electronic set- off system.
Mutual Recognition Agreements
HE highlighted that UAE offered a working paper addressing mutual recognition agreements mechanism under the gulf AEO program given UAE's pioneering of this field.
During the meeting, participants concurred upon keeping valid the AEO program mutual recognition agreements among state countries, allowing state members to carry on the in-progress mutual recognition agreements or execute bilateral agreements following the effectiveness of gulf AEO program taking into consideration the significance of coordination with remaining gulf countries.
As to unanimous mutual recognition, Gulf Authority ascertained, during the meeting, permitting unanimous and joint AEO's mutual recognition agreement under the free trade agreements (FTA) provided that such agreements shall provide for the mandatory execution of Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAA) mutually among GCC countries.
Coordination with Private Sector
The gathering perused the pillars proposed by customs sector and private sector for the sixth joint forum anticipated to be held soon, of the most prominent pillars is complying with the prescribed customs procedures in customs ports amid the Covid-19 pandemic, benefiting from pre-clearance advantages for goods coming from council's countries, cooperation between customs authorities and private sector in observing security aspect by ensuring the intactness of imported goods and that they are free from prohibited substances, and to avoid transacting with suspected sources, entities and individuals.
HE Ahmad Abdulla Bin Lahej clarified that Gulf Customs Union Authority members asserted during the meeting the significance of employing modern technology and fourth industrial revolution in developing customs operations, ensuring to keep in par with next decades global developments, and he underscored that the meeting addressed the role of high end technology approach in drawing customs future for state members, and tapping into Block Chain technology in developing customs operations and procedures all over state members in addition to benchmarking leading practices in this domain.