Border Agency Cooperation
Governmental agencies and executive bodies need to offer a public service that is effective, transparent and customer friendly. To achieve this, they have to cooperate to implement more efficient controls and offer simplified procedures. Border Agency Cooperation is one of the key commitments (Article 8) included in the draft WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation. Border agencies can achieve cooperation through the coordination of their respective mandates, policies and procedures.
Although Customs is usually the most visible body at the international border, many more governmental agencies share responsibility for regulating and controlling imports, exports and transit of commercial goods. Commercial goods and their means of transport have to be conform to various acts and regulations for market entry, exit and conveyance. Accordingly, different governmental bodies are tasked with ensuring conformity with State regulations and intervene in trade activities on the political as well as the operational level. These agencies have responsibilities for:
- Agriculture products, including fish and livestock
- Food products
- Environment, including protection against chemicals
- Health and narcotics
- Telecommunications and ICT equipment
- Consumer protection
- Collection of taxes and duties
- Weapons, and arms and nuclear safety
- Transport safety
- Police and Security Services
- Public works and infrastructure development
Agencies other than Customs are referred to as “Other Governmental Agencies” (OGA). Many, but not all, of these public agencies require controls at border crossings and border stations and intervene in the clearance process. They are referred to as Border Agencies.
Agency cooperation addresses the requirements for interaction, sharing of responsibilities and communication amongst/between different agencies. The cooperation can expand to various areas including examining shipments and monitoring compliance, collecting and exchanging information, and risk-management. At the national level it is implemented through coordinated intervention, integrated risk management, integrated and shared facilities and equipment- including IT systems and Single Windows for trade -, common data and messaging standards, and joint training activities.
In addition to cooperation at the national level, border agency cooperation has a cross-border dimension which includes coordination with neighboring countries and cross-border Customs cooperation and exchange of information.
Requirements and Pre-requisites
Agency cooperation and coordination on the national as well as cross-border level rests upon a solid legal framework and an institutional framework. On the national level, agencies enter into memoranda of understanding (MoU) that describe each party’s roles and responsibilities. Cross-border cooperation requires bilateral agreements between the two governments.