Saturday, 16 December 2017 | News today: 0

Macedonia is part of EU’s customs map

As of 1 July, Macedonia joins EU’s Convention for Common Transit. In terms of European integration, joining the common transit system will be the bargaining chip in pre-accession strategies since the Republic of Macedonia will be part of EU’s customs system before it becomes full-fledged member. In terms of economy, joining this Convention implies facilitation of trading with EU, EFTA and Turkey – our biggest and long-term foreign trading partners, says Natasa Radeska Krstevska, Director of Customs Administration of the Republic of Macedonia.

What are the Macedonia’s benefits from joining the Convention and what was the joining procedure like?

RADESKA KRSTEVSKA: Joining the Convention is very significant due to the benefits it offers, mostly because of economic operators, but also for Macedonia’s Customs Administration. The benefits are acceleration and facilitation of economic activities, reduction of operational costs followed by increase in competitiveness of Macedonian economy. By joining the Convention for Common Transit and the Convention for Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures when trading with commodities, the Republic of Macedonia will become part of the EU’s common system. That system comprises all member states, 4 EFTA members and Turkey, which  makes a total of 33, and Macedonia is the 34th country to join it. As of 1 July, a single transit procedure will be valid for all those countries i.e. the procedure will begin with a single transit declaration, a single document for all member states and that same document will be handed at the commodity’s final destination.

In the meanwhile, no special national transit declarations, bank guarantees as security instruments will have to be prepared in transiting countries, because the commodity will pass along with a single guarantee accepted in all countries. Additional benefit for our companies is that they will be able to use the same electronic transit declaration as a collective entry declaration when entering EU member states, thus further accelerating and facilitating customs procedures. They would have to submit their EORI – Economic Operator Registration and Identification Scheme System first, which is the number required for registration and identification of the economic operator. They are being granted this number by some of the customs administrations of the member states. Therefore, we have already published a call, and there is also a form on our website that needs to be filled in and the EORI number should be submitted.

When the electronic document is filed in the entry office, it is being immediately delivered via electronic messages to all countries which are on the transport map, the end destination included. In that way, they have information on the commodity even before it arrives. It leaves room for an risk analysis to be made, to prepare customs officials for a control, and it decreases the time spent on customs terminals.

All in all, it means less time and less money for companies and increased competitiveness.

What matters for the Republic of Macedonia is not just that we are now being part of EU’s common transit, but it is also quite an important argument in the pre-accession strategy, as well as the immediate benefit of facilitated movement via Corridors 8 and 10, facilitated and accelerated trade and transport with Macedonia’s most important economic partners.

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How did Macedonia’s Customs Administration become a member of the Convention?

RADESKA KRSTEVSKA: To become a member of both conventions, one must be invited by the Council of the European Commission. The Republic of Macedonia received such invitation on 18 May 2015 as a result of the committed and hard work of customs administration workers, thus meeting numerous criteria and inevitable pre-condition to join the Convention. Firstly, national customs legislation, legal acts and bylaws and internal procedures were harmonized with EU’s laws on transit and electronic transit declaration. Furthermore, we have made organizational changes in the Customs Administration, establishing and reinforcing certain organizational departments which are in charge of the transit. It is very important that in November-December 2014, an electronic communication network was established between us and Brussels for exchange of electronic messages and it will be used in future by the Public Revenues Office and other Macedonian institutions.

Do you have the support of the European partners?

RADESKA KRSTEVSKA: The most important condition was that we have a developed computers system. We developed the computerized transit system with three million euros from IPA in 2008, with EU finances, and we got half a million euros from the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. We have been developing the system for several years. It had to be done. It became operational in the country in April 2014 and ever since, national transit in the country is being done exclusively by that system. Hence, we have an electronic transfer since April 2014.

Prior to it, it used to be done in writing, which costed more time and money. This system had to be tested on multiple occasions. It had to pass 200-300 tests successfully. Exchange of messages with other EU countries is now being tested. Data exchange with Slovenian Customs Administration is currently being tested. After the system has been developed, tests have begun. Last July, we have had a pre-assessment mission and an assessment mission this January. Member states representatives came here and gave us a very positive assessment of our preparedness to join the Convention, hence the invitation.

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What does it mean for trading between two EU member states, Germany and Italy, for instance, if the transit is via Corridors that go across Macedonia. What are their benefits and facilitation?

RADESKA KRSTEVSKA: For every commodity that transits via Macedonia, regardless whether of domestic or foreign company, must be filed a national transit declaration in the moment they reach our customs office. As of 01 April it is electronic, but it still has to be filed and to have a proper guarantee that has been issued and it needs to be handed over when exiting the country. For instance, if commodities from Burgs, Bulgaria need to arrive in Vienna, Austria, a national transit declaration needs to be opened on “Deve Bair” border crossing and a proper instrument for securing possible customs debt, and when making an exit through “Tabanovce” border crossing they hand it over. The same procedure takes place in Serbia. The facilitation is that as of 01 April, the electronic declaration is being filed in Burgas, and it immediately arrives in Macedonia, so no need to file it on “Deve Bair” and no handing over on “Tabanovce”. Serbia still has a national transit declaration, but it is positive that Serbian Customs Administration is expected to join the Convention by the end of 2015, which would be a major facilitation and acceleration via Corridor 10.

To what extent did our Customs Administration have time, capability and administrative capacities able to adopt quickly?

RADESKA KRSTEVSKA: Efforts have been invested and capacities have been developed for this matter for a long time. We have been a Convention candidate country ever since 2007. Changes have been introduced during the entire period, we have strengthened operational capacities and customs officials have been trained. Economic operators have been simultaneously trained on the functioning of the new computer transit system for common transit. It is important noting that as of 01 July, our customs officials will be working according to the same standards and principles, the same legal basis as customs officials in the most contemporary European countries.

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By: Naum Stoilkovski

Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski