Pilot project to digitize ATA Carnet launched

Digitalization of the ATA Carnet has gained headway with the launch of a pilot project that will conduct running tests in six countries, according to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Digitalization of the ATA Carnet has gained headway with the launch of a pilot project that will conduct running tests in six countries, according to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

ICC said the Mercury II Pilot Project was launched last October 2 to digitize the ATA Carnet, an international customs document that permits duty- and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year. The initials “ATA” are an acronym of the French and English words “Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission.”

The pilot project will run for six months in Belgium, China, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is seen to “revolutionise the ATA Carnet by digitalising processes, making transactions and travel easier and more efficient for businesses and customs offices alike,” said ICC.

“This initiative, with its new ATA Carnet app and customs portal, will ensure that declarations and transactions are digitally recorded and tracked, making cross-border travel of goods easier, faster and safer for businesses and customs offices alike,” the ICC said. “We hope that by simplifying these tedious trade processes, more countries will join the ATA system.”

The Philippines has yet to participate in the ATA Carnet community, but the Department of Finance (DOF) has already endorsed the country’s accession to the Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for Temporary Admission of Goods, also known as the ATA Convention or Istanbul Convention.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez made the endorsement in an official letter dated August 8, 2019 to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.

In the letter, Dominguez said the DOF “is agreeable to the acceding to the Istanbul Convention” under certain conditions meant to ensure compliance with national laws and regulations and preserve the country’s rights and interests.

He said the department believes the Istanbul Convention will “help promote efficiency, consistent with this Administration’s policy of promoting ease of doing business and efficient service delivery.”

Established by ICC’s World Chambers Federation and endorsed by the World Customs Organization, the Mercury II Pilot will allow users to digitally download ATA Carnets to their mobile wallets, prepare declarations via their mobile devices and receive transaction confirmations.

In addition, customs authorities can read the Carnet data and complete transactions electronically. A digitalized ATA Carnet-or eATA-will not only facilitate transactions but also increase data security, reduce exceptions and improve administration for all stakeholders worldwide, said ICC.

First issued in the 1960s, the ATA Carnet, also known as the “Merchandise Passport” or the “Passport for Goods,” has become globally recognized as an ideal trade facilitation tool dedicated to the temporary admission of goods.

More than 185,000 ATA Carnets were issued in 2017, covering goods valued at US$26 billion. These goods include commercial samples, professional equipment, and goods for presentation or use at trade fairs, shows and other types of exhibitions.

ICC said that with their ATA Carnet, salesmen, exhibitors, and other business travellers can make advance customs arrangements at a predetermined cost, visit several countries, use the ATA Carnet for several trips during its one-year validity, and return to their home country with their goods without problems or delays.

“Carnets are the easiest way to speed through Customs and to save money,” it added. ATA Carnets reduce costs to exporters by eliminating value-added tax and customs duties. Carnet holders are also not required to post securities with customs. In addition, Carnets simplify customs border crossings and cut red tape by allowing importers and exporters to use a single document for all customs formalities.

The ATA Carnet system is currently in force in 78 countries, with Qatar the most recent country to join the global network.

The Philippine private sector, represented by trade associations including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., has long collaborated with these government agencies including the Export Development Council and Department of Trade and Industry in pushing for the adoption of the ATA Carnet to facilitate access of micro, small and medium enterprises and small exporters to foreign markets.

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