INTERNATIONAL TECHNICAL COOPERATION AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
International customs cooperation meets the political and economic interests of the Republic of Belarus and is an important factor in the interaction with global structures.
International customs cooperation is developing in the mood of good neighborly relations and close cooperation, development of compromise decision, constructive mutually beneficial dialogue, which represents the deepening of customs links and reflects the current process of international economic integration.
The Republic of Belarus participates in international cooperation in the sphere of customs regulation in order to harmonize and uniform the legislation with the norms of international law and generally accepted international practice.
In order to develop many-sided cooperation of the Republic of Belarus, improvement of the legal framework, the implementation of international obligations, the customs authorities of the Republic of Belarus cooperate with the customs services of foreign countries, participate in the work of various international organizations and integration associations.
The main objectives of the international customs cooperation:
1. To form the international legal basis;
2. To conduct the meetings and consultations, including the participation in the work of sectoral authorities of managing integration;
3. To participation in the work of international organizations on the issues of customs regulation;
4. To cooperation in the framework of international technical assistance and cross-border cooperation programs.
The most close and fruitful customs cooperation of the Republic of Belarus is conducted in the post-Soviet area in the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The Union State, as an interstate union, marks a new stage in the process of uniting the peoples of the two countries - Belarus and Russia. The Union State was established in accordance with the Agreement on the Establishment of the Union State, signed in Moscow on December 8, 1999.
The main objectives of the establishment of the Union State:
- ensuring the development of fraternal peoples;
- creation of a single economic space;
- respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens;
- implementation of cohesive foreign and defense policies;
- establishing a unified legal system;
- implementation of a cohesive social policy;
- ensuring the security of the Union State and the fight against crime.
The Union State of Belarus and Russia is based on the principles of the sovereign equality of the member states, voluntariness, and faithful fulfillment of mutual obligations. The Union State assumes the delimitation of competences and powers between the Union State and the member states. In accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, the Supreme State Council, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Court and the Accounts Chamber of the Union State are established to implement the goals of the Union State.
Cooperation of the customs authorities of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation within the framework of the Union State in the main areas of customs administration is implemented within the framework of the functioning of the Customs Committee of the Union State.
The Customs Committee of the Union State is a branch body implementing the unification of customs legislation within the limits of the jurisdiction of the Union State on matters within the competence of the customs authorities of member states, as well as the joint organization and management of customs affairs in the Union State in terms of ensuring a single order and conditions for the importation of goods and vehicles into the Union State, the exportation of goods and their transit.
The functions of the Customs Committee of the Union State are quite extensive - there are 43 of them. Summarizing them, in terms of organizational activity, the following can be noted:
- development of measures and creation of conditions that accelerate goods turnover across the customs border of the Union State, as well as contribute to the development of foreign economic relations of the Union State member states, enterprises, institutions, organizations and citizens of the Union State member states, including the development of customs infrastructure;
- participation within the limits of its competence on behalf of the Union State in international cooperation in customs matters, coordination of the participation in it of the central customs authorities of the Member States of the Union State;
- organization of research in the field of customs in the Union State;
- ensuring the study and analysis of the state of customs in foreign countries and economic unions;
- provision of training, retraining and advanced training of officials and specialists of customs authorities and enterprises, institutions and organizations under their jurisdiction, etc.
Thus, the Customs Committee of the Union State is called upon to carry out customs regulation within the framework of powers similar to the competence of the customs services as defined by the legislation of the Member States of the Union State, using international legal methods and mechanisms.
Another integration union in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union is a Joint board of customs services of the member states of the Customs Union, established in accordance with the Agreement on the Joint board of customs services of the member states of the Customs Union dated 22 June 2011 and currently includes customs services of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
Decisions of the Joint board are made by vote (consensus), each member state of the Eurasian Economic Union has a casting vote. The decision is made if none of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union did not vote against this decision.
Participation in the work of the Joint board promotes practical cooperation with the customs authorities of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union in order to conduct a coordinated policy on customs and make deeper customs cooperation, harmonize national customs legislation, ensure the unity of the customs services management.
At the meetings of the Joint board they address the relevant issues of customs cooperation, which later as concerted decisions are put before the Eurasian Economic Commission.
Additionally, it is worth noting the active development of customs cooperation in the post-Soviet area, including in the framework of the CIS. Since the emergence of the CIS customs policies in the framework of the Commonwealth, is one of the main instruments of influence on the dynamics of economic transformation taking place in each member state of the CIS.
In part, it is possible thanks to the functioning of the continuing body of sectoral cooperation of the CIS - Council of heads of customs services of CIS member states, which ensures the coordination of cooperation of the customs services of the CIS member states in the sphere of customs policy. The Council also develops proposals for brining issues for customs affairs for consideration at meetings of the Council of CIS Heads of State, Council of the CIS Heads of Governments, CIS Economic Council.
It should be noted that the main result of the cooperation of customs services in the last couple of years in the work of the Council was the completion of initiated by the Customs Service of the Republic of Belarus inventory of the international legal framework of the CIS member states in the sphere of customs, the results of which determined the international agreements, the effect of which is advisable to stop and the international agreements that require updating by means of making amendments and additions to them.
2. Cooperation with customs services of foreign states
Regarding the international legal framework creation on issues of customs control, it should be noted that it is based on the generally recognized rules and principles of international law, in particular on the provisions of the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures of May 18, 1973, in the Protocol of 26 June 1999 year (the so-called Kyoto Convention), as well as the standards and rules of the World Customs Organization (WCO), in particular the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade.
The Republic of Belarus has joined to Kyoto Convention in 2009 and become the 72nd member state.
A fundamental principle of the Convention is to maximize the promotion of international trade by adoption of simplified standard rules and procedures, the widespread introduction of information technologies and establishment of partnerships with law-abiding participants of foreign economic activity.
The rules of the Convention by the establishment of easy-to-understand, uniform in the interpretation and clear for the application of regulatory requirements create conditions for the smooth movement of goods, reducing the time of customs procedures and unification of customs documents, that, as a result, helps to increase trade turnover among the countries, investment attractiveness of the national economies and increase their business activity.
The Convention defined, in order to achieve harmonization and simplification of customs procedures, each Contracting Party assumes responsibilities to assist to such simplification and harmonization through the introduction of standards of the Convention, without requiring of them literal implementation the standards of the Convention in national law.
Thus, all international agreements, the issue of which is conducted by the SCC, meet the international standards and the requirements of international law.
Development of international instruments in the sphere of customs is one of the most important activities of the customs authorities of the Republic of Belarus, the implementation of which depends on the effectiveness of the fulfillment of their tasks.
In particular, international agreements of the Republic of Belarus on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs affairs are the legal basis for cooperation of customs services of the Republic of Belarus with customs authorities of foreign states, as well as the legal basis for the conclusion of international agreements of the interdepartmental character on the various areas of cooperation.
To summarize the provisions and the subject of regulation of such international agreements it can be said that customs authorities under agreements may cooperate and provide mutual assistance in order to: a) ensure the proper application of customs legislation; b) the prevention, investigation and addressing violations of customs legislation; c) assistance in simplification of transit across the customs territory of the Contracting Parties.
The agreements define the order of the supplying and use of information, transfer of documents, conduction of the targeted control over goods and vehicles, the use of the method of controlled delivery to identify the persons involved in committing customs offenses.
Contractual framework expands the legal boundaries of international cooperation, which has a positive effect on the efficiency of fulfillment of the tasks to protect the economic interests of the state.
At present there are about 75 international agreements dealing with the various aspects of customs cooperation. This figure does not include contracts that make up the right of the Eurasian Economic Union on the issues of customs administration.
Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus of October 30, 2002 № 1504 "About cooperation of the Republic of Belarus with international organizations" defined that the lead agency on cooperation of the Republic of Belarus and the World Customs Organization, and the Administrative Committee for the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets is the State Customs Committee, whose function is to ensure the effective participation of the republic in the World Customs Organization and the Administrative Committee of the TIR Convention and taking the necessary actions to protect the national interests.
The main objectives of the participation in the work of the Administrative Committee of the TIR Convention are to consider and make amendments to the TIR Convention, to participate in systems of guarantee functioning monitoring of TIR, to promote the initiatives of the Republic of Belarus in part of possibility of the application of additional safeguards, as well as studying the measures taken by the Contracting Parties, within the TIR Convention, to create favorable conditions for transit of goods through the territory of the Republic of Belarus, to ensure the growth of transit volumes and improve transit attractiveness of the Republic of Belarus.
It should be noted the cooperation of the customs service of the Republic of Belarus with the World Customs Organization, which is an intergovernmental international organization which contains the customs services of 180 countries, which account for nearly 98% of world trade.
The Republic of Belarus has become a member of the World Customs Organization on December 16, 1993 and currently is an active member of it, taking advantage of the right to receive some assistance in the framework of the World Customs Organization on customs issues.
In June 2005 at the Council Session of the World Customs Organization the heads of customs services of one hundred and seventy of the world customs services have taken the designed by the World Customs Organization the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitation of Global Trade (the Framework).
Given the importance of the task, the WCO Secretariat has developed and launched on January 26, 2006 a special program of the staged implementation of the Framework of Standards by WCO member states, called "Columbus".
In 2007 and 2008 under the first phase of the program "Columbus" in the Republic of Belarus the missions of WCO experts were held. On the basis of a very thoughtful comprehensive analysis the experts have noted that the leadership of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Belarus has done the effective work to improve the functioning of its customs service.
In the second phase of the program "Columbus", the WCO Secretariat has supported the SCC through various workshops in certain areas.
The Republic of Belarus has became the third country in the world which was invited to participate in the final third phase of the program "Columbus" (May 2012), providing monitoring and evaluation of achieved results by the customs service.
At the end of the mission the WCO experts praised the accomplished work of the Republic of Belarus to modernize and improve the customs service of the Republic of Belarus, to simplify the customs procedures, to use information technology and the introduce the electronic declaration system.