Border Agency Cooperation, Part 2 of 3

Our second blog on Border Agency Cooperation (BAC) focuses on a conceptual model developed by CBRA. We have crafted this “CBRA-BAC15” diagram to visualize a set of key BAC actions and primary beneficiaries, with contributions by Dr. Toni Männistö (supply chain security post-doc researcher at CBRA), Mr. Gerwin Zomer (TNO, technical manager for the FP7-CORE project) and by Ms. Susana Wong Chan (education and training materials developer at CBRA).BAC-1

The diagram is cut to three sectors: on left side, the supply chain companies are the primary beneficiaries of BAC actions; on the right side, the government agencies form the primary beneficiary group; and on the bottom area, both supply chain companies as well as government agencies benefit from BAC actions. Each of these three sectors contains five examples of concrete border agency cooperation actions – 15 in total - explained in a moment by using real examples, whenever available in the literature or by expert suggestions. In the center of the diagram lies a circle with the more generic “smart cross-border improvement actions”, applicable to virtually any work in global trade facilitation.

The diagram should not be considered exhaustive, when it comes to all optional actions to improve BAC in a given country or region or globally. Some of the 15 key actions may be strongly interconnected, or, partially overlapping. Some of them may apply mainly on national multi-agency environment, and some of them mainly on international e.g. customs-to-customs environment. Also, the division of the key actions into the three beneficiary groups can and should be challenged, by the interested audiences. But, let´s start now by listing and illustrating the key 15 BAC actions:

Supply chain companies as the primary beneficiary (left sector in the diagram). The following five BAC actions can bring immediate benefits to the companies operating in supply chains, in terms of saving administrative costs and speeding up the supply chain – less work dealing with various certifications and audit visits, less variation and IT costs with import/export data filing and less waiting times at the borders.

  • Harmonized ´trusted trader´ & other certification programs: In the European Union, the European Commission´s implementing regulation (No. 889/2014) updates the references to the aviation security legislation in force, including recognition of the Known Consignor (KC) status and its relevance to Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), and framing the scope of recognition of the common requirements between the respective programs.
  • Coordinated company visits & audits: Closely linked to the previous BAC-action, in the Netherlands, the Dutch Customs executes joint audits on AEO security (customs) and known consignor/regulated agent (air cargo) with the Dutch Immigration and air-police agency - during the application phase, as well as during periodical audits.
  • Harmonized data filing requirements: Despite a global, harmonized data model, harmonized tariff codes and standards on clearance procedures, there are many differences in operational import, export and transit procedures and information requirements between countries. This results in additional complexity of IT systems for globally operating traders and logistic service providers. An example is the pre-arrival security declarations, where harmonization would be most useful e.g. between the Importer Security Filing, “10+2” in the US and the Entry Summary Declaration in Europe - Multiple Filing, supported by Standard Trader Interface, under development within the Union Customs Code, UCC.
  • Synchronized border interventions & inspections: The Article 4 of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Cross Border Transport Agreement on Facilitation of Border Crossing Formalities calls upon the contracting parties to progressively adopt measures to simplify and expedite border formalities by carrying out joint and simultaneous inspection of goods and people by respective competent authorities of agencies such as customs, immigration, trade, agriculture, and health. It further provides for single-stop inspection and urges the national authorities of adjacent countries to carry out joint and simultaneous inspections.
  • Harmonized operating hours: This applies particularly in the context of two neighboring country customs offices – having same opening hours across the border helps to maximize the daily throughput volumes. As the Article 8 of the World Trade Organization´s Trade Facilitation Agreement puts it, “Each Member shall, to the extent possible and practicable, cooperate on mutually agreed terms with other Members with whom it shares a common border with a view to coordinating procedures at border crossings to facilitate cross-border trade. Such cooperation and coordination may include: … alignment of working days and hours … “. In the ASEAN region, the Article 7 of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit urges the contracting parties to “coordinate working hours of the adjacent border posts”.

Government agencies themselves as the primary beneficiary (right sector in the diagram). The following five BAC actions can provide instant benefits for the cooperating government agencies, in terms of cost savings and improved efficiency – in other words, identifying more violations and catching more bad guys with less total spending.

  • Sharing of agency intelligence, information & data: Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAS), signed bilaterally by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and eight counterparties during years 1979-2010 (European Community, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea and the United States) provide Canada with a legal basis to share customs information to prevent, investigate and combat customs offences, particularly customs fraud, and to provide reciprocal mutual assistance to ensure the proper application of customs laws. Under CMAAs Canada may share customs information pertaining to: persons, goods and means of transport; activities planned, on-going, or completed, that constitute or appear to constitute a customs offence in the territory of the country requesting the data; proven law enforcement techniques; new and emerging trends, means or methods of committing customs offences; and facilitation of risk assessment activities, within the mandate and authority of the CBSA.
  • Joint investments in common resource pools (equipment, facilities etc.): In Finland the Customs Administration and the Border Guard share common premises and equipment. Each authority has a designated role in the servicing and maintenance of the equipment. X-ray machines are largely the responsibility of Customs. Road-testing equipment, such as lorry brake-testing pads, is also maintained by Customs. All equipment can be shared and operated by each agency upon request. Thus, although the equipment belongs to one agency, it can be easily relocated to the other agency, enabling smoother processing of the workflow without unnecessary and lengthy administrative procedures, thereby reducing costs.
  • Joint teams: In the Netherlands, “HARC” - Hit and Run Cargo Rotterdam team, is a joint operation of Dutch Maritime Police, Dutch Customs, the Fiscal and Economic Crime Agency and the Ministry of Justice collaborating operationally in narcotics enforcement. Joint teams differ from Joint operations below by being a long-term / permanent set-up; while Joint operations “come and go”.
  • Joint operations: A joint operation Meerkat, (23-27 July 2012) involving the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL against the illicit trafficking of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol in East and Southern Africa, resulted in the seizure of tons of illicitly traded products in seven countries. Operation Meerkat saw Customs and police authorities carry out some 40 raids at seaports, inland border crossing points, markets and shops in Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. More than 32 million cigarettes – equivalent to 1.6 million packets, 134 tons of raw tobacco and almost 3,000 liters of alcohol were seized, resulting in national authorities initiating a number of administrative investigations into tax evasion and other potential criminal offences.
  • Collaborative criminal investigations & prosecutions: In the United States the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) units gather officers from more than 100 different law enforcement agencies under one roof. The objective is to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle transnational organizations posing the greatest threat to border security, public safety and national security, by employing the full range of federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement resources. Over the years, the BEST has become a successful interagency law enforcement collaboration model that’s keeping the US safer.

Both supply chain companies as well as government agencies as beneficiaries (bottom sector). The five BAC actions can bring instant benefits to all parties in cross-border supply chains, in terms of lowering costs and improving performance, from supply chain company and from governmental agency perspectives.

  • ‘Single window’ -type import/ export/ transit data submissions: In the Netherlands, the authorities have designed Digipoort, the government’s ‘electronic post office’ for businesses. It provides the communication infrastructure for the exchange of digital information between companies and government authorities. Digipoort enables companies to submit import and export information at a single entry point aimed at multiple government authorities.
  • Common risk indicators, risk profiles & targeting systems: In Finland, common databases are linked to the different agencies’ operational and risk management databases, leading to a common approach when a ‘signal’ is recorded. Some control and enforcement officers have access to each other’s systems on a need-to-know basis, with levels of restricted access determined by rank and functional responsibility.
  • Mutual recognition of supply chain inspection procedures & outcomes: As part of the European Union funded research and development project FP7-CORE ( http://www.coreproject.eu/ ), the phytosanitary and customs administrations in Kenya and the Netherlands are working towards mutual recognition of controls carried out by Kenyan authorities, as well as the exploitation of digital phytosanitary certificates and other trade documents, between the two countries. Outside of the research world, mutual recognitions (MR) of customs inspections are being explored in the context of EU MR Agreements, for example with Japan.
  • Cross-training and empowering manpower: In Finland, Customs officers have been trained by the Border Guard to inspect identification documents and visas, among other procedures. Border guards have, in turn, received basic Customs training, which includes the search of vehicles and the recognition of prohibited and restricted goods, such as drugs, alcohol, and counterfeit items.
  • Joint public-private partnership arrangements, training sessions etc.: In 2011 in Hong Kong, the Customs and Excise Department established a Joint Liaison Group with the representatives of shippers, freight forwarders and truck drivers for exchanging operational views and comments on the Road Cargo System “ROCARS”. Moreover, Customs also launched an extensive publicity program and established outreach teams to assist the industry stakeholders to get used to the ROCARS. Following other government departments are listed on the ROCARS web-site http://www.rocars.gov.hk/ : Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Census and Statistics Department, and Transport Department.

Finally, the center circle of the CBRA-BAC15 diagram highlights the basic, classical principles of trade facilitation – naturally in the context of multiple agencies dealing with cross-border regulations, procedures, IT-systems and data requirements:

  • Simplification & Harmonization: agencies work together with the first aim to streamline certification requirements and procedures, to minimize the number of data elements required from traders etc.; and the second aim to unify the rules and requirements facing supply chain companies.
  • Interoperability & Synchronization: agencies invest in improving interoperability between their inspection technologies, IT-systems etc.; they also work together to better synchronize their supervision and control processes, particularly for the benefit of supply chain companies.
  • Transparency & Predictability: agencies keep each other well informed of their current regulations, procedures, operations etc., as well as planned future changes – such proactive approach helps to minimize surprises and related hassles.

This concludes the second of three parts of our Border Agency Cooperation (BAC) blog. In Part 3 – to be published sometime in February – we focus on the overarching institutional arrangements on Border Agency Cooperation, including establishment of single border agencies (e.g. in the US and Australia); creation of one-stop border posts, OSBPs (multiple examples across the world); carrying work permanently on behalf of other agencies etc. We also plan to discuss bit more on the benefits and costs of BAC, as well as the main challenges and obstacles in BAC-projects across the globe. Talk to you again in February, Juha Hintsa.

 

Bibliography / sources for the examples and cases attached to the 15 BAC key actions:

  • Harmonized ´trusted trader´ & other certification programs: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 889/2014 of 14 August 2014 amending Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93, as regards recognition of the common security requirements under the regulated agent and known consignor programme and the Authorised Economic Operator programme.
  • Coordinated company visits & audits: Email exchange with a Dutch Customs expert
  • Harmonized data filing arrangements: Interview with a Dutch supply chain and trade facilitation expert (29 January 2016); and AnNa Master Plan Extended Collaboration Project Book, December 2015. Available for download at: http://www.annamsw.eu/
  • Synchronized border interventions & inspections: Jain, S.R. (2012), “Coordinated Border Management: The Experience of Asia and the Pacific Region”, World Customs Journal, Vol. 6 No.1. (CBM25).
  • Harmonized operating hours: Article 8 (Border Agency Cooperation) of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation of 15 July 2014; and Jain, S.R. (2012), “Coordinated Border Management: The Experience of Asia and the Pacific Region”, World Customs Journal, Vol. 6 No.1.
  • Sharing of agency intelligence, information & data: “Customs Cooperation Case Study for Canada”, paper submitted by Canada (Canada Border Services Agency - CBSA) for the July 2012 WTO Symposium on Trade Facilitation.
  • Joint investments in common resource pools (equipment, facilities etc.): “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Joint teams: “Customs find cocaine buried in cocoa bean shipment”, NL Times 25.5.2015, Available online at: http://www.nltimes.nl/2015/05/25/customs-finds-cocaine-buried-in-cocoa-bean-shipment/ (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Joint operations: “WCO and INTERPOL joint operation against illicit trafficking in Africa leads to tobacco and alcohol seizures”, WCO Press Release, 27 August 2012. Available online at:   http://www.wcoomd.org/en/media/newsroom/2012/august/operation-meerkat.aspx (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Collaborative criminal investigations & prosecutions: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76
  • ‘Single window’ –type import/ export/ transit data submissions: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Common risk indicators, risk profiles & targeting systems: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Mutual recognition of supply chain inspection procedures & outcomes: The Consistently Optimised REsilient ecosystem, CORE FP7 project, EU. See online at: http://www.coreproject.eu/ (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Cross-training and empowering manpower: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Joint public-private partnership arrangements, training sessions etc.: “Road Cargo System (ROCARS) (Hong Kong China)”. Available online at: http://www.wcoomd.org/en/topics/wco-implementing-the-wto-atf/atf/border-agency-cooperation.aspx (accessed 28 January 2016).
1 reply
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