BRICS customs heads meet

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pretoria - The heads of the customs services of the BRICS member countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - have met for the first time to discuss common problems and outline ways to extend cooperation.

The representatives from member countries signed a protocol on cooperation on the results of the three-day meeting- held just weeks before the leaders’ summit to be held in Durban, from March 26-27.

“We have similar problems. We’re all in the same boat,” first deputy head of the Russian Federal Customs Service (FTS) Vladimir Malinin said.

These problems include the substitution of invoices, under-declaration of the value of goods, gray schemes and smuggling, including drugs.

“The fight against drug smuggling is the priority,” Malinin said.

For speeding up customs procedures, the BRICS representatives agreed to unify the software, organise preliminary informing and stimulate electronic customs clearance of cargoes.

Malinin stressed that his agency has already established contacts with colleagues from China and India, and with Brazil and South Africa it “practically had no” such contacts before this meeting.

“They are advanced countries” in terms of technological equipment of customs, the FTS first deputy head stated.

“The significance of the BRICS as an international association is growing. We expect the political decisions of the summit to promote their implementation and make life easier for conscientious businesses,” Malinin said.

“With the development of trade, the work of customs authorities acquires particular importance,” he stressed.

BRICS, certainly, cannot claim the status of Russia’s neighbours - Kazakhstan and Belarus - that are members of the Customs Union, because the countries of the group have no common borders and are separated by great distances.

The task of the FTS within BRICS is to coordinate actions in all spheres of the customs administration and provide assistance in settling disputes. –