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Cross-strait customs pact nears completion

The China Post and CNA--Taiwan and China are in the final stages of signing a customs cooperation pact that is expected to facilitate customs clearance and help businesses dealing in cross-strait trade to keep costs down, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

The country's top China policy planner said it is likely that the two sides of the Strait will finalize the deal during the eighth round of high-level talks expected to take place in the near future between the two sides.

The new deal includes a platform to enhance mutual discussion of customs-related problems, said MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan.

For instance, she said, both sides would cooperate closely on solving disputes arising while matching imported goods with corresponding customs codes, accelerating clearance procedures.

Information on illegal trafficking of drugs or weapons can be exchanged more easily through such a measure, she added.

Hwang Ding-fang, administrative deputy finance minister, said Taiwan and China would also apply cutting-edge technology to make customs clearance smoother.

RFID to Check Cargos

Hwang explained that cargo shipments could be more efficiently tracked and checked in the future if both sides incorporated radio-frequency identification (RFID) into their sensor systems and cargo management platforms.

When officials in the mainland lock cargo with an RFID lock before its shipment, RFID systems can transmit data about the locked cargo to a terminal in Taiwan via electromagnetic waves. If the cargo was opened during shipment, officials in Taiwan would know immediately. Thus, when the cargo reached Taiwan, if the cargo was not opened in the process, there is no need to open the cargo again for inspection, said Hwang.

The system would require less time and fewer workers, saving importers about NT$8,000 (US$266) per container, according to Hwang.

AEOs to Enjoy Speedy Customs Clearance

In addition, Hwang said, Taiwan and China will push for a joint certification system to allow companies with good reputations to pass through customs even more quickly.

Cargo from companies with a certificate of Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) can pass customs under fewer inspections, taking only a few seconds, said the deputy finance minister.

Other cargos, however, normally take several hours to pass customs, he said.

According to Hwang, this measure is designed for companies to keep an eye on their cargos themselves, letting customs officials to have more time to check cargos of other companies.

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