The 12th meeting of ASEM Customs Directors-General took place in Berlin on 16/17 October 2017. The meeting brought together the Customs Directors-General from the European and Asian member states of ASEM along with representatives from the European Commission. The World Customs Organization also attended as an observer. The delegations adopted the Berlin Declaration, a joint statement that sets out future targets and actions for customs cooperation among ASEM members.

The meeting of ASEM Customs Directors-General was held in the historic Erzberger Hall at the Federal Ministry of Finance and chaired by Uwe Schröder, Director of Germany’s Central Customs Authority. Michael Meister, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, opened the event. Noting in particular the ramifications of accelerating processes of globalisation, he emphasised that customs administrations can play a crucial role in enhancing global security by further intensifying their cooperation and building sustainable structures. Representatives from 45 European and Asian member states engaged in joint discussions with the European Commission and the World Customs Organization, focusing in particular on specific measures to facilitate trade, safeguard supply chains, combat piracy and counterfeiting, and promote environmental and consumer protection.

The talks resulted in the Berlin Declaration, which outlines the targets and priorities of European-Asian cooperation and, in particular, sets out a specific plan of action for 2018 and 2019. Key actions for the coming two years will include trade facilitation, paperless customs processes, cross-border e-commerce trade lanes, and border enforcement in connection with international postal items.

ASEM is an international forum established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation. ASEM currently encompasses 53 members and focuses on a variety of policy fields. In the area of customs, participating countries work on the alignment, streamlining and harmonisation of customs procedures. They also coordinate strategies to combat illegal activity, including terrorist activity.

ASEM Customs Directors-General gather for joint talks every two years, and the meetings rotate between Asia and Europe. The previous meeting took place in Goa, India, in autumn 2015. The Goa Declaration specified a number of European-Asian projects to be carried out in 2016 and 2017 as part of the ASEM action plan on customs matters. In 2015, Germany offered to host the 12th meeting of ASEM Customs Directors-General in October 2017.

Vietnam’s customs administration will serve as host of the 13th meeting, which is set for 2019.