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Brussels, 19 September 2006

Customs cooperation: Commission and China strengthen cooperation on supply chain security

The European Commission and China have agreed to strengthen cooperation in order to increase security and trade facilitation throughout the supply chain. As a first step, they are going to run a pilot project with the aim of creating smart and secure trade lanes between the European Community and China. The pilot project would initially involve the European Commission, the Customs Administration of China and of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Once successful, the co-operation could be expanded step by step to the whole of the European Community. This initiative takes place in the framework of the EU-China Agreement on Customs Cooperation and is the outcome of today's meeting between Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner László Kovács and Chinese Customs Minister Mu Xinsheng.

"Trade security and facilitation have become a priority for the European Commission. Strengthened customs cooperation between the EU and China will help both parties to reach this objective" said Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner László Kovács. "I am pleased that, with the launch of this pilot project we both confirm our commitment to deepen customs co-operation and strengthen our citizens’ security"

Expected outcomes of the co-operation

This strengthened cooperation should in the long term lead to increased security and trade facilitation by:

  • Reciprocity and mutual recognition of security standards, control results and authorised economic operator concepts;
  • Use of latest technology to secure supply chain;
  • Improved information flows, improved risk assessment and targeting of controls;
  • Quicker release of goods upon arrival, better predictability of delivery times for business partners and reduced control efforts for Authorised Economic Operators.

What is the co-operation about?

Since the entry into force in April 2005 of the EC-China Agreement on Customs Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance (see background), the EU and China have deepened their co-operation in order to step up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, to facilitate trade and to increase security.

In this context, customs administrations of the EU and China will seek to exchange experience and develop best practices with a view to secure and facilitate trade between them. The purpose is to strive for reciprocity and mutual recognition of measures for security and facilitation to be implemented in accordance with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) standards and the relevant Customs legislation adopted by the EU and China in order to implement the WCO standards.

The starting point of this process is the launch of a pilot project group involving the ports of Rotterdam, Felixstowe and Shenzhen (China), with particular emphasis on sea containers.

The pilot project should test security from the point of the stuffing throughout the entire journey of the container until its final destination.

This implies that not only legislation (EU legislation on Authorized Economic Operator, pre-arrival and pre-departure information, export controls) would be tested but also methods to secure containers (seals, including e-seals, scanners etc).

According to the success of the pilot project, the co-operation could be expanded gradually across the European Community.


Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, protecting the supply chain from a possible terrorist attack has become a priority for most major trading countries. The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has produced the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade. In this context, the European Community is currently implementing changes to its Community Customs Code to include security provisions. China has also emphasized its intention to implement this framework.

The European Community and China have signed on 8 December 2004 an Agreement on Customs Co-operation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters to increase co-operation. This agreement entered into force on 1st April 2005.

In this context, an EU-China Joint Customs Co-operation Committee (JCCC) was launched in order to promote future developments of customs legislation and to strive for the solution of problems encountered in the application of customs rules.

The first JCCC took place in China last November and today, the second meeting took place in Brussels

For further information on Customs cooperation with China see:

For further information on the EU customs security policy, see:

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