Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview: Mr. Yoon Young-sun, Commissioner of Korea Customs Service

In today's world, Customs Administrations around the world fulfill a multi-faceted role on behalf of their governments. They contribute to revenue collection, community protection, trade facilitation and national security. The Korea Customs Service is responsible for enforcing customs and related laws, and for collecting customs duties and other taxes on imported goods. In principle, all commodities, subject to specific conditions, may be imported into Korea unless they are included on the negative list of prohibited or restricted items.
In an interview to me, Mr. Yoon Young-sun, Commissioner of KCS talked about his plans for the agency.

-My vision for the KCS is to make it a frontier organization fully responsible for FTA implementation in Korea. I believe that FTAs, especially the FTA between Korea and the EU, are crucial for recovering the Korean economy and strengthening cooperating between Korea and other economies. Despite the importance of FTAs in the Korean economy, many people believe that once FTAs are concluded between governments, businesses can automatically use advantages of FTAs; however, unless businesses are not prepared to get preferential treatments of FTAs, FTAs per se do not guarantee anything. Thus, the KCS concentrates on getting all businesses in Korea prepared to use FTAs. FTA is often also called fair trade agreement. That is, fairness in trade should be protected for sustaining free trades and providing all participants in FTA regimes. Thus, the KCS does its best to prevent and control illegal trades between Korea and other economies in the middle of implementing FTAs.
-As the SAFE Framework proposed by the World Customs Organization emphasizes harmonization between security and facilitation in trade is a big concern to customs administration in the world. To improve harmonization between the two different goals, customs administrations have strengthened cooperation in securing legitimate trades and controlling illegitimate trades. So does the cooperation between the KCS and customs agencies of the EU.
Specifically, Korea has stepped up its efforts to strengthen cooperation with the EU by signing the Agreement of Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters with the European Commission, Netherlands and Poland. The KCS and the EU Office Europeen de Lutte Anti-Fraude will coordinate their plans of controlling illegitimate trades of fake goods; which will contribute to protection of IPRs and verification of country of origin. The trade facilitation between Korea and the EU will be promoted by concluding the Mutual Recognition Arrangement which is to allow Authorized Economic Operators in EU countries to get the same customs incentives in Korea. The KCS is pushing ahead a plan to send a customs attache to the EC and ask the EC to dispatch one to Korea after the effectuation of the Korea-EU FTA.
-The KCS has a cargo inspection policy that reliable enterprises have a very low chance of getting inspected by customs. The KCS believe that foreign invested enterprises are usually very reliable. As you may have experienced or reported, very few of goods that you owned or handled have been inspected. In addition, foreign invested enterprises receive a favor in paying customs duties. Foreign invested enterprises can clear their goods without paying customs duties at the moment of clearance. They can pay customs duties on a monthly basis.
-The KCS has cracked down on smuggling of IPR infringed goods and detected cases worth of 345.9 billion KRW worth from January to March 2010, among 65% of which was made in China. Korea has beefed up its enforcement activities on IPR violating goods from high-risk countries. Moreover, the KCS has actively engaged in the joint enforcement program with China, called the Fake Zero Project, to detect not only illegal importers but also foreign suppliers.