There were a few “sticking points”, largely of a technical nature, hampering the flow of trade between BRICS member countries, according to the South African Revenue Services (Sars) acting commissioner, Mark Kingon.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa make up the BRICS bloc of emerging economies.
Kingon was speaking at a press briefing at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on Thursday following the 10th Annual BRICS Customs Experts Technical Working Group, hosted by Sars.
One of the main focus areas of the high-level meeting was the establishment of an enabling legal framework for BRICS customs cooperation.
“When you are dealing with multiple country systems, if you are talking for instance of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) as an example, we have implemented different models, so we have to have some alignment if we are going to go forward,” he said.
AEO’s give preferential treatment to certain traders, importers and exporters within the bloc. Kingon said that while they had “demonstrated their effectiveness in strengthening supply chain management and economic competitiveness”, BRICS members were at different stages of development.
“When we talk of exchange of information, the information systems differ across all the countries and it’s difficult to get alignment across those,” he said.
There was “nothing else that is really a sticking point”, said Kingon.
“The whole point is that we have to find ways to facilitate trade more effectively and that requires our systems to be aligned. We have separate jurisdictions and legal frameworks. That is always going to be difficult,” he said.
The countries had to ensure that when exchanging information, it was fully aligned to ensure trade was facilitated.
It was agreed that it would be more beneficial at this stage to share information and identify priorities with the aim of working towards bi-lateral agreements, said Kingon.
It was further agreed that certain areas of the Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement (CMAAA) should be improved before adaptation.
Such agreements, according to Sars, enable the administrations to exchange information, provide each other with technical assistance, undertake surveillance and investigations together, with, and on behalf of, each other and cooperate with each other in order to enhance the efficiency of their operations.
“It is expected that clarification of the agreement would, apart from the traditional areas of information exchange and investigative assistance, include detailed provisions on cooperation in human resource development, data exchange and addressing of trade grievances,” he said.
The meeting emphasised the need to finalise the BRICS Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement (CMAAA) by 2021. This would enable the seamless movement of goods among member countries and bring the reality of economic cooperation even closer.
The meeting also deliberated on the value of an integrated risk management system as a key area in terms of risk identification, not only for customs but also for tax administration purposes.
“This will likely form part of the agenda in the upcoming BRICS Tax meetings in June this year, to be hosted by Sars in Johannesburg,” said Kingon. (via African News Agency)