The European Commission has announced that on 15 July 2016, the General Administration of China Customs and Hong Kong Customs joined the customs authorities of eight EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom) and the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission, DG TAXUD in Phase 3 of the Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL) pilot project. Seven additional Member States (Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia) as well as the WCO take part as observers.
The SSTL is a Pilot project between the EU and Asia which allows testing end-to-end supply chain security instruments and mechanisms in line with WCO SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS). It was launched in 2006 by the Netherlands, UK and China to test specific safety and security related recommendations of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards as regards security measures applied to containers, facilitating ‘Customs-to-Customs’ data exchange, risk management cooperation, mutual recognition of customs controls and trade partnership programmes. Member States participate on a voluntary basis. In 2010, Phase 2 was launched with the aim to expand the project which involved selecting more complex lanes, the inclusion of non-AEO companies, the expansion of risk management cooperation. Eventually, Phase 2 participants included Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Hong Kong Customs as well as the original participants.
Phase 3 will result in an increase in the share of goods traded between the participants covered by SSTL, and is thus expected to have a substantial impact on overall supply chain security and trade facilitation between the EU and China. This involves notably expanding the scope of the pilot, both geographically as well as to air and rail transport, in addition to maritime transport; increasing the volume of consignments covered; and incorporating advanced risk management techniques and developing common risk rules. An ambitious data exchange mechanism is being developed to support the above objectives and actions.
Furthermore, there is Risk management cooperation under the SSTL umbrella which allows addressing areas of mutual interest. So far several joint risk rule exercises have been conducted with focus on IPR, cigarettes and waste.
SSTL also contributed to a series of important security policy areas, notably as regards the technical comparison of the AEO programmes in view of establishing EU China AEO Mutual recognition, the contribution to the WCO unique consignment reference numbers (UCR) concept and addressing temporary admission issues for container security devices (CSDs).
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