A new digital platform to speed up customs clearance of land freight is set to boost cross-border trade productivity.

To accelerate trade in goods by road within the region, the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) has been enacted for cross-border traders.

ACTS was developed with the support of the European Union, and the new online system is expected to reduce intra-ASEAN trading challenges and enable companies to benefit fully from the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the free movement of goods across the said region.

Under ASEAN Customs Transit System, the private sector can make a single transit declaration for customs checkpoints, which covers the transport of goods across multiple countries, without the need to make repeated declarations or change vehicles at each border.

Special arrangements allow traders with reliability standing to load goods at their own premises in the country of departure, and to deliver the goods to their own premises at destination. Faster customs clearance at borders will help accelerate transit movements and reduce the time and expense of carrying out regional trade, to the benefit of producers and consumers.

According to Dato Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN Secretary-General: “The implementation of the ASEAN Customs Transit System plays a vital role in facilitating seamless movement of goods in the region. I believe the system would be an excellent tool in enhancing ASEAN’s trade and production networks as well as establishing a more unified market for its firms and consumers.” The ACTS could also support post-pandemic recovery to accelerate the transit movement of medical supplies, vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment within the member states, Dato Lim added.

ACTS digital training

The online system is a digital platform developed by ASEAN with the financial support of the European Union under the ARISE Plus program.  The system is managed by a permanent ACTS Central Management Team based in the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, with support from the ARISE Plus. Regional and national ASEAN Customs Transit System helpdesks are already available.

ARISE Plus has provided extensive training for users of the digital platform, consisting of stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including Customs authorities, government transport agencies, freight forwarders, transporters, banks and insurance companies.

The first successful ACTS transit movement occurred on 23 Oct and 24 Oct this year. The system will soon be available in Myanmar, and depending on business needs may later be expanded to Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines.
According to a spokesperson from the ASEAN Federation of Forwarders Associations, the freight forwarding community will be one of the main beneficiaries of this system as it offers simplified customs clearance and transport control procedures between different ASEAN member states. The added predictability of door-to-door delivery times and most-importantly—reduced transport costs—will significantly accelerate transit movements across the region and help reduce time and expenses of cross border trade in the region.