Trade facilitation focus of Intl. Certificate of Origin Council, World ATA Council meetings

Friday, 21 November 2014 01:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Senuri De Silva The development of international policy related to exports and moving goods between borders of member countries with ease is the focus of the World International Certificate of Origin Council Meeting and the World ATA Carnet Council Meeting, taking place in Sri Lanka this week. It is the first time that a meeting of this nature is being held in Sri Lanka and the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) hosted delegates from over 40 countries, including ICC World Chambers Federation Director Anthony Parkes, London Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Deputy Chief Peter Bishop and United States Council for International Business, Senior Vice President Cynthia Duncan. The first half of the four-day series of meetings, from 18 to 21 November, focused on the World International Certificate of Origins Council, while the latter half was focused on the ATA Carnet Council Meetings. The objectives of the meetings range from streamlining the documentation system evidencing origin, solving issues faced by small businesses in cross-border trade, working with customs authorities and facilitating trade and global economic growth. Speaking to the Daily FT, London Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Deputy Chief Peter Bishop touched on the objectives of the meeting saying: “We are hoping to accomplish greater trade facilitation by harmonising the way documents are issued globally, making sure that businesses are communicated with and we work closely with the Customs authorities as well as the World Trade Organisation in setting the trade agenda for the future.” He also emphasised the importance of discussing issues faced by small businesses as they form a large portion of cross border trade. “In this meeting in particular we were discussing the impact of various new systems that are coming into play through world customs organisations and how they impact smaller businesses. Of course multinational enterprises are very important in global trade but from a numbers point of view there are many more smaller businesses that engage in cross-border trade and we were particularly keen to take into account their concerns and the issues that they face in moving goods across borders.” Bishop also spoke of the event itself and its local organisers stating: “The way it’s being organised and the way the ICCSL has brought everyone together is wonderful and it follows the contribution they have made to these meetings which we have year after year all over the world.” The World ATA Carnet Council also hopes that the meeting will help raise the profile of ATA Carnets among the 73 countries that are part of the system and attract new countries to become members while also focusing on facilitating online issuance of ATA Carnets and being a more efficient, less expensive and flexible procedure in comparison to following national procedures. United States Council for International Business, Senior Vice President Cynthia Duncan also spoke to the Daily FT of what she hopes will be the outcome of this meeting. “We are doing a lot of work to bring our products into the new century. We are talking about new computer systems. At the same time we are looking at it from a strategic point of view of what countries should be part of the system and what steps to take to encourage them to become members.” She further pointed out that the objective of an ATA Carnet as well as its advantages was to be a less expensive, flexible alternative to knowing and following the national procedures of individual countries. Duncan also spoke of her experience in Sri Lanka revealing: “There has been excellent organisation of the meetings. Everyone has been so helpful and so hospitable and it has been going like clockwork. I think my colleagues around the world would say the same thing as well. It has been productive and enjoyable at the same time.” The ICCSL has also fully utilised the wealth of knowledge and expertise present in the country during this meeting by organising an ATA Carnet workshop which featured speakers like Peter Bishop, to educate local manufacturers and exporters. This event is of significance to Sri Lanka because it is the first time an event of this calibre is being hosted by the ICCSL in its existence of over 60 years. The meeting which is held once every six months last took place in Warsaw, Poland in June and the next meeting will be in June 2015 in Torino, Italy. ICCSL CEO Gamini Peiris has worked for over two years to win the bid to host the event in Sri Lanka and ICC Chairman Keerthi Gunawardena pointed out the benefits Sri Lanka stood to gain from such an event such as the exchange of knowledge and expertise among industry leaders as well as showcasing Sri Lanka as a rapidly developing country. Sri Lanka is also one of the few countries that issue certificates of origin electronically and according to Gunawardena, Sri Lanka will be able to quickly adapt to the council’s plans to make available a method of electronically issuing ATA Carnets from next year. Pix by Lasantha Kumara