Published On: 17-5-2017

-Event highlighted industry trends and benefits of implementing the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement

-Nasib: Dubai is an ideal setting host this forum as a global leader in trade facilitation with efficient customs procedures

-Ben Salem: Hosting of this forum in UAE shows recognition of country’s status among international community

Dubai, UAE: The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the Customs and Trade Facilitation Forum at its premises on Wednesday in cooperation with the UAE Chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-UAE).

The forum, organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with the ICC, was supported by the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The event was attended by more than 100 delegates, including senior officials from the ICC, ICC-UAE, World Customs Organization, Dubai Customs, and representatives from Dubai’s business community.

During the event, industry experts shared insights on key trends and issues impacting global trade, including digitalisation, challenges and opportunities associated with e-commerce growth, the benefits of implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the framework for the forthcoming GCC-wide value-added tax (VAT).

Addressing the delegates, Mr. Atiq Juma Nasib, Senior Vice President of Commercial Services, Dubai Chamber, said that Dubai is an ideal setting to host the forum as the emirate is recognised as a global leader in trade facilitation, while it also boasts world-class logistics infrastructure and efficient customs solutions.

He explained that the UAE was the first Arab country to ratify the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, adding that this move reflects the country’s strong commitment to facilitating and enhancing international trade.

Mr. Nasib said the implementation of the milestone agreement stands to significantly benefit businesses and SMEs in particular, as it will simplify customs procedures, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
He highlighted recent research from the World Economic Forum suggesting that the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement could lead to a 60% to 80% increase in cross-border SME sales in some economies.

He emphasised Dubai Chamber’s commitment to working with the ICC and the ICC-UAE to facilitate international trade, address challenges faced by the private sector, and develop strategies to stimulate trade growth.

H.E. Humaid Mohamed Ben Salem, Chairman of the ICC-UAE, highlighted the organisation’s recent achievements and revealed that a total of 500,000 companies are registered with various chambers of commerce across the UAE.

The ICC-UAE Chairman explained that the UAE’s hosting of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation’s meeting for the first time showed the recognition of the country’s status among the international community. H.E. Ben Salem provided an overview of the ICC-UAE’s recent activities and its plan of action for 2017, which he says will help achieve the ICC’s objectives of promoting and facilitating global trade.

H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director of Dubai Customs, affirmed that Dubai Customs has sought to keep pace with Dubai’s positioning as one of the world’s largest cargo hubs by constantly improving its customs efficiency to enable traders and customers to achieve their goal of getting goods to the market as quickly as possible.

“The development of customs work, for us, is an ongoing process which is also in line with our vision to be the leading customs administration in the world supporting legitimate trade. The longstanding commitment to innovation in customs procedures and services have helped significantly speed up the processing of client declarations which reached 9.1 million declarations in 2016,” said H.E. Musabih.
Over the last decade, Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade has experienced a five-time growth from just AED 252 billion in 2003 to AED 1.27 trillion in 2016, H.E. Musabih revealed, adding that the IMF’s projection of 3.3% non-oil growth for the UAE in 2017 will likely drive trade and Expo 2020 investment.
Ana Hinojosa, Director of Compliance and Facilitation, World Customs Organization (WCO), praised Dubai’s efforts to digitise and streamline its customs procedures and noted that the emirate is recognised as an early adopter of smart solutions that facilitate and enhance trade.

She identified a number of challenges faced by the WCO and its members related to security and automation, and stressed the importance of collaboration between chambers of commerce and customs authorities around the world to solve such issues.

Panel discussions during the forum focused on the growth of e-commerce and the challenges that it has posed to countries and customs authorities. Around 12% of all global trade transactions are carried out through digital platforms, delegates pointed out, adding that more cooperation is needed to measure the impact of this activity on customs processes around the world.