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EU, China Sign Mutual Recognition Agreement on Trusted Trader Programs

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Union announced May 16 the signing of a trusted trader mutual recognition agreement with China. The two sides also renewed and expanded their agreements on customs and intellectual property rights enforcement cooperation. The European Commission notes that these efforts build on the “close customs cooperation” the EU and China have developed since concluding a Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement in 2004.

Trusted Traders. EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Algirdas Šemeta proclaimed that “everyone is a winner” with the MRA, from businesses that will see “easier, cheaper and faster” customs clearance procedures to customs authorities who will be able to focus more resources on “where the real risks lie.” A Commission press release states that there are currently around 15,000 companies approved as authorized economic operators in the EU and that the MRA with China “makes the EU certified trader system the most widely accepted in the world” given that the U.S. and Japan have trusted trader MRAs with the EU as well.

Customs Cooperation. An EU press release states that the Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation for the period 2014-2017, which replaces a previous framework signed in 2009, “defines ambitious priorities and objectives for EU-China collaboration in this field.” Areas of focus will include trade facilitation, supply chain security, and efforts to combat counterfeit and illicit trade. The two sides will also take a joint approach to tackling illegal waste shipments.

IPR. A new action plan, also covering 2014 through 2017, expands on a previous pact and provides for (a) exchange and joint analysis of seizure statistics to detect general trends and risks, which will lead to better targeting of high-risk consignments; (b) exchange of case-specific information on detentions through a network of customs officers in seaports and airports in the EU and China, which should help to better dismantle production and distribution networks of IPR infringing goods; and (c) a joint partnership between customs authorities and business communities that will enable right-holders to understand how to best enforce their rights and assist customs in better targeting controls.

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