by Ashley Rosen, an international trade specialist in The International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.
Unpredictability and a lack of transparency in customs administration have been a major impediment to doing business with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The four Latin American countries are members of the Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur, or Southern Common Market) customs union. The World Bank, in its most recent report on the ease of doing business, ranked those four countries in the bottom half of the 183 countries surveyed when it came to “trading across borders.”
Because of this situation, the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the U.S. business community have made improving the customs clearance process a high priority for increasing U.S. exports to the Mercosur countries. Improving customs procedures and reducing delays at these countries’ borders will facilitate U.S. exports, reduce costs, and increase the competitiveness of U.S. products and services in the region.
An important step was taken August 8–9, 2011, when ITA conducted a customs modernization workshop for public and private representatives from the four Mercosur countries in Montevideo, Uruguay. The two-day event occurred because of the close cooperation and participation of the American Chambers of Commerce in Argentina and Uruguay and the National Customs Administration of Uruguay.
More than 250 representatives attended and participated in sessions to promote policy dialogue on customs modernization and to share local best practices in clearing legitimate goods through customs.
Overall, the workshop focused on the need for greater modernization, transparency, and collaboration to improve customs processes. It also sparked a dialogue between public- and private-sector stakeholders, which will lead to increased and improved trade between the United States and the four countries.
This workshop was part of an ongoing customs facilitation effort organized by ITA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the private sector. For more information, contact Ashley Rosen in the ITA’s Market Access and Compliance unit, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.