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Agreement with China on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters

Agreement with China on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters

 

SUMMARY OF:

Decision 2004/889/EC concluding an agreement between the European Community and China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters

Agreement between the European Community and China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE AGREEMENT AND OF THE DECISION?

The agreement aims to improve cooperation between the parties’ administrative authorities responsible for the application of customs legislation*.

The decision concludes the agreement on behalf of the European Community (now the EU).

KEY POINTS

Action to tackle operations in breach of customs legislation is more effective if it is backed up by mutual assistance between countries in customs matters. The operations concerned are those prejudicial to the economic, fiscal and commercial interests of the parties: it is essential to any state to ensure the accurate assessment of customs duties and other taxes.

Developing customs cooperation

The parties agree to develop customs cooperation, in particular by:

  • establishing channels of communication;
  • facilitating effective coordination between administrative authorities;
  • providing for joint action on administrative matters;
  • facilitating the legitimate movement of goods;
  • exchanging information and expertise on customs procedures;
  • providing each other with technical assistance, e.g. staff exchanges, training and data sharing;
  • seeking a coordinated position when customs topics are discussed in international organisations.

Mutual administrative assistance

Customs authorities assist each other by providing information to ensure the proper application of customs legislation: this does not prejudice the application of existing rules governing mutual assistance in criminal matters. Nor does it apply to information obtained at the request of judicial authorities.

The following forms of assistance are not covered by the agreement:

  • the recovery of duties, taxes or fines;
  • the arrest or detention of any person;
  • the seizure or detention of property.

The agreement concerns both assistance on request and spontaneous assistance.

Assistance on request: the requested authority must give the applicant authority all information which may enable it to ensure that customs legislation is correctly applied. This information may relate to:

  • activities that may result in offences within the territory of the other party, such as incorrect declarations or other falsified documents;
  • the authenticity of official documents produced in support of a goods declaration;
  • the legality of exports and imports of goods from the territory of one of the parties to the territory of the other and the customs procedure applied.

The requested authority must also, in the context of its competence and at the request of the applicant authority, take the necessary steps to ensure special surveillance. Surveillance relates to persons in respect of whom there are reasonable grounds for believing that they have committed an infringement of the customs legislation of one of the parties. It can also cover places, stocks and goods transported, as well as means of transport that may have been used under fraudulent conditions.

Spontaneous assistance: in cases where a formal request is not possible in view of the urgency of a situation that could involve substantial damage to the economy, public health, public security or similar vital interest, the parties can assist each other at their own initiative.

Formal aspects and exceptions to the obligation to provide assistance

Requests must comply with certain requirements of form and substance in relation to:

  • the formal endorsement of the applicant authority;
  • the action requested;
  • the object of and the reason for the request.

The requested authority proceeds as though it were acting on its own account. It deals with the requests in accordance with the legally binding instruments applicable in its own jurisdiction. The response must be in writing.

Exceptions to the obligation to provide assistance are allowed. Assistance may be refused or may be subject to certain requirements if it is likely to prejudice:

  • the sovereignty of China or that of an EU country which has been requested to provide assistance;
  • public order, security or other essential interests.

The agreement contains confidentiality clauses in relation to the information provided.

DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE

The agreement entered into force on 1 April 2005. It applies to the customs territory of the People’s Republic of China and to the territories of the 28 EU countries.

BACKGROUND

The European Commission and the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China signed the Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation 2018-2020 in June 2017. This reiterates the main objectives of mutual cooperation and assistance between the EU and China and builds upon the agreement on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters. The priorities identified include the enforcement of intellectual property rights, supply chain security, fight against fraud (financial and environmental) and statistics. The new Strategic Framework also introduces cooperation on matters concerning e-commerce.

KEY TERMS

Customs legislation: customs legislation includes any legal provisions of the EU or of China which govern the import, export and transit of goods or their placing under any other customs regime or procedure, including measures of prohibition, restriction and control.

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Council Decision 2004/889/EC of 16 November 2004 on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (OJ L 375, 23.12.2004, p. 19)

Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (OJ L 375, 23.12.2004, pp. 20-26)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Enhancing EU-China Trade Security and Facilitation: Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation 2018-2020 between the European Union and the Government of the People’s Republic of China, 22 May 2017 (Council of the European Union document)

Decision 2014/772/EU of the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee established under the Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People's Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters of 16 May 2014 regarding mutual recognition of the Authorised Economic Operator programme in the European Union and the Measures on Classified Management of Enterprises Program in the People's Republic of China (OJ L 315, 1.11.2014, pp. 46-50)

Information relating to the entry into force of the Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China and on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (OJ L 110, 30.4.2005, p. 80)

last update 08.01.2019

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