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Agreement with Hong Kong

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Agreement with Hong Kong

Considering the prejudice caused by operations in breach of customs legislation, the European Union and Hong Kong have concluded an agreement covering all areas related to the application of customs legislation. Enhanced cooperation in this area is vital for combating fraud, piracy and other forms of illegality more effectively


Council Decision 1999/400/EC of 11 May 1999 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and Hong Kong, China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.


The aim of this Agreement is to improve cooperation between the administrative authorities responsible for applying customs legislation *. In addition to providing for several types of cooperation, the Agreement contains a provision aimed at further developing and increasing customs cooperation by means of agreements on specific matters.

Customs cooperation

The parties undertake to develop customs cooperation by:

  • promoting effective coordination and channels of communication between their customs authorities to facilitate the secure and rapid exchange of information;
  • facilitating the movement of goods;
  • exchanging the information and expertise needed to improve customs procedures;
  • providing technical assistance to each other;
  • exchanging staff where this benefits both parties.

Mutual administrative assistance

Under the Agreement, two types of mutual administrative assistance are possible:

  • assistance on request: the requested authority * must furnish the applicant authority * with all relevant information to enable it to ensure that customs legislation is correctly applied. The information may relate to activities detected or planned which could be operations in breach of such legislation. It may also relate to the regularity of export and import procedures between the two countries.

The Agreement also provides for special surveillance in all suspect cases. Such surveillance may be applied to any natural or legal person, place, movement of goods or means of transport which is or may be linked or used to commit operations in breach of customs legislation.

  • spontaneous assistance: the parties may assist each other on their own initiative if they consider that to be necessary for the correct application of customs legislation, particularly if they receive information which could be of interest to the other party.

Formal aspects and exceptions to assistance

Requests must be made in writing, except in urgent cases where oral requests may be made, confirmed in writing thereafter. Requests must contain data on the applicant authority, the measure requested, the object of and the reason for the request, the legislation involved, the natural or legal persons involved and a summary of the relevant facts and of the enquiries already carried out.

The requested party may refuse to comply with a request if to do so would be likely to prejudice the sovereignty, public policy, security or other essential interests of one of the parties. The obligation to provide assistance may also be waived where to do so would violate an industrial, commercial or professional secret.

The Agreement contains confidentiality clauses in relation to the information supplied. A high level of protection is given to personal data.

The Agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Customs Cooperation Committee which sees to the proper functioning of this Agreement and examines all issues arising from its application.

Key terms used in the act

  • Customs legislation: customs legislation includes any legal or regulatory provisions or any other binding legal instrument adopted by the European Community and Hong Kong governing the import, export and transit of goods and their placing under any other customs procedure, including measures of prohibition, restriction and control which fall under the competence of the customs authorities and other administrative authorities.
  • Requested authority: means the competent customs authority which receives a request for assistance.
  • Applicant authority: means the competent customs authority which makes a request for assistance.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 99/400/EC



OJ L 151 of 18.6.1999

See also

Last updated: 27.07.2005