Customs officials from China have pledged to streamline procedures for smoother trading among countries on the Belt and Road Initiative.
The General Administration of Customs said on Dec 24 that the efforts would be centered on preventing cross-border smuggling and on using more multi-modal logistics networks.
According to Huang Songping, the GAC spokesman, the administration has already teamed up with officials from countries such as Laos, Kazakhstan and Mongolia to improve supply chain security and launched joint efforts to prevent smuggling of drugs, endangered wild animals and weapons.
The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, is a trade and infrastructure network that includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to bring together more than 60 countries and regions in Asia, Europe and Africa.
China has already established multiple customs clearance facilitation cooperation mechanism for the China-Europe land-sea express line with customs authorities in countries like Serbia.
“We will continue to push forward customs cooperation to facilitate trade along the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway line. Diversified cooperation among customs, port management and railway authorities in China and Russia is another area that we will focus on,” said Huang.
In a bid to cut customs clearance costs and improve efficiency, 10 customs departments from nine Chinese provinces and autonomous regions along the two trading routes have signed a cooperation agreement on integrating regional customs clearance procedures.
All export and import products that go through any customs within the areas, which include Zhengzhou in Henan province, Xi’an in Shaanxi province and Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, are entitled to simplified procedures through a system that will require a single customs declaration.
Since 2010, major Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Wuhan, have all launched weekly or monthly modern block train services to various European and Central Asian destinations.
Government figures show that trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road routes between January and October was worth $820 billion, accounting for 25.4 percent of the country’s total foreign trade.
Li Kuiwen, a senior policy researcher at the GAC, said the current global supply chain is under threat from illegal trade and terrorism. However, the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, especially from a customs perspective, can play a key role in preventing criminal activity such as drug smuggling via e-commerce, the import of hazardous waste, commercial fraud and intellectual property infringement.