Pretoria, 12 March 2013 – SARS hosted the first ever meeting of the Heads of Customs Administrations for the BRICS countries in Bela Bela on 7 and 8 March 2013. The meeting was in preparation for the 5thBRICS Summit to be held in Durban from 26 to 27 March this year. Customs cooperation is included in the agenda for the meeting of BRICS Finance Ministers at that Summit.
The meeting focussed on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation between the BRICS countries, with items on the agenda focussing on:
- Cooperation at multilateral fora
- Exchange of customs information and mutual assistance
- Sharing of customs best practices
- Customs facilitation of legitimate trade between BRICS countries, particularly in the areas of customs procedures, customs non-tariff barriers and the combating of illicit trade and customs fraud
The meeting was extremely positive and laid the foundations for the development of closer links between the five customs administrations.
Key outcomes included:
- The commitment by all parties to consolidate existing partnerships, enhancing relationships between Customs and Business in all BRICS countries, and developing partnerships with relevant international organisations. A key focus will be on developing political support for the Customs agenda within BRICS and at the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
- The acknowledgement of the need to develop Customs capacity in the areas of human resources, technology and procedures, as well as the benefit of sharing resources, knowledge and best practices in order to achieve improved capacity. This is especially important in light of the WCO’s Capacity Building Strategy.
- The decision to establish a BRICS Customs Mechanism to identify issues of common interest, develop common responses and ensure regular engagement and interaction at a multilateral level.
- The commitment to ensuring an enabling legal and operational basis for effective intra-BRICS Customs mutual administrative assistance and the exchange of Customs information to combat illicit activity, facilitate legitimate trade and reduce the Customs administrative burden for the whole of BRICS.
- The decision to explore opportunities for enforcement cooperation, including through the sharing of relevant information, providing assistance and joint actions where appropriate.
BRICS represents 43% of the world’s population, approximately one fifth of global gross domestic product (GDP) – estimated at US$13.7 trillion – as well as combined foreign reserves estimated at US$4.4 trillion. In 2012, BRICS countries accounted for approximately 11% of global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows (US$465 billion) and 17% of world trade.