The Annual Assembly and Conference of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators was held in Baku on May 2-4.
The event was jointly organized by the international association and the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The conference held under the motto "Supporting secure business environment for economic development" was attended by 150 delegates from 25 countries.
On May 2, the participants of the event first visited the Alley of Honor and laid a wreath at the grave of the nationwide leader of the Azerbaijani people, architect and founder of the modern independent Azerbaijani state Heydar Aliyev. They also paid tribute to the outstanding ophthalmologist-scientist, academician Zarifa Aliyeva, put flowers at the grave.
Then, they came to the Martyrs Alley to pay tribute to those killed fighting for Azerbaijan's independence and territorial integrity, laid a wreath at the Eternal Torch monument.
Afterwards, the Annual Assembly and Conference of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators kicked off at the Hilton Baku hotel.
Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, customs service Lieutenant-General Safar Mehdiyev made a keynote speech at the event.
Chairman of the State Customs Committee said ensuring security of global trade-supply chain, strengthening potential of customs bodies and achieving economic achievements comprised reforms in the customs sphere. As a result of the pragmatic policy initiated by the nationwide leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev, all spheres, including non-oil sector is dynamically developing and reforms are being carried out in the country.
It was said that the Azerbaijani customs bodies playing an important role in protecting the domestic market, boosting local production and export, were improving and becoming modernized year-after-year thanks to the attention and care of the head of state, especially large-scaled activities carried out as part of the relevant state program on the development of this sphere. General activity strategy of Azerbaijan's Customs Service aims at making the trade-investment environment in the country more attractive by creating favorable conditions for the development of legal trade in the region, ensuring security of the international trade-supply chain and boosting foreign economic activity.
Azerbaijan's location at the crossroads of different cultures and civilizations created favorable conditions for its playing the role of a bridge between the North and South, West and East. The fact that the Great Silk Road crossed through Azerbaijan's territory played a special role in building intensive relations with the global trade and important steps were taken in the country to form the customs system in line with the modern standards. Baku International Sea Trade Port and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway launched last year are among the important factors for accelerating transit transportation and facilitating trade.
Safar Mehdiyev said: "As our honorable President Mr. Ilham Aliyev has said as a result of the operation of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway trade turnover and mutual investment among the countries located along the road will grow, cooperation among all the participating countries will deepen, this road will contribute to the stability and security, and of course, successful operation of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will increase geopolitical significance of our countries."
Chairman of the Committee said that Azerbaijan's customs having perfect logistic and normative-legal base in line with the highest European standards, owning the state-of-the-art infrastructure and information and communication technologies, was enhancing its international relations. Azerbaijan's Customs Service, which has perfect legal base, developed infrastructure, is successfully pursuing fiscal policy protecting the economic interests and security of the republic on land, in the air and in the sea. The State Customs Committee is also taking expedient measures to strengthen fight against smuggling and other kinds of illegal actions.
At the end of his speech, chairman of the State Customs Committee Safar Mehdiyev said that trade facilitation led to the countries' prosperity, economic growth, increase of the export potential and strengthening of the international competition, this in its turn, was of great importance in terms of ensuring strong and reliable customs-business cooperation in the country. In this respect, launch of the Authorized Economic Operator program and "green corridor" system is an important step towards cooperation. Authorized Economic Operator serves the enhancement and development of customs-business relations and the State Customs Committee is interested in further enhancing and strengthening the Authorized Economic Operator program in Azerbaijan.
President of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Antonio Llobet de Pablo thanked Azerbaijan for hosting the event.
Head of the organization underlined that Azerbaijan was a country with cultural diversity. Azerbaijan is a place, which trade caravans moving along the Silk Road uniting Beijing and Istanbul crossed through. Throughout millennia the trade done through the Silk Road grew enabling not only goods trade, but also exchange of views and culture. Antonio Llobet said they would speak about the secure environment for the development of logistic chain in Baku - the place uniting Europe and Asia. All factors will be reviewed, discussed during the Baku conference with the view of reviving the Silk Road.
Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organization Ricardo Treviño Chapa expressed his gratitude to the Azerbaijani government for hosting the international meeting, underlined that joint work would be continued for great goals.
Deputy Secretary General said Azerbaijan was located on numerous international trade routes. The customs service plays a special role in ensuring security of citizens in terms of international trade. This does not only mean collection of state revenues, but also establishment of security on the international level, prevention of risks and illegal trade. Therefore, risk management in customs must be constantly updated, more attention must be paid to legal trade when speaking about citizens' security.
Director General of Spain's Customs Excise Department Ms. Pilar Jurado and President and Managing Director of KGH Border Services Lars Karlsson said Baku conference created favorable conditions to know more about the local participants for the international customs and logistics, to study the existing opportunities related to trade and to discuss their importance for all the regions. It was said that Authorized Economic Operator project was an important tool to ensure trade facilitation and its discussion during the Baku conference would be effective.
European Union Ambassador - Head of the Delegation Kestutis Jankauskas said over the recent years there had been serious progress in the customs sphere in Azerbaijan. Significant activities are being carried out to fight against corruption and ensure transparency.
Ambassador said it created opportunities for further acceleration of the development and the European Union was satisfied with the modernization of Azerbaijani customs. Touching on the successful cooperation with Azerbaijan's Customs Service, the guest expressed his confidence that the cooperation would further develop, bigger achievements would be gained.
Chairman of WCO Council Enrique Canon Pedragosa underlined that globalization of the planet, revival of economy created new opportunities in the international trade. Customs bodies can make significant contributions to the process and there is a strong need for it.
WCO official said new trade schemes and e-trade services were emerging. In this respect, there is a need for new tools and approach initiatives. Economic operators tool in the Authorized Economic Operator project must be applied in free zones.
Following the opening ceremony, Global Head of Customs Compliance and Legal at DHL Global Forwarding Pavel Ivanov made the main report entitled "Silk road: corporate prospects".
Vice-President of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Antonio Vidales moderated a panel meeting on the theme "Major elements of secure business environment".
Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organization Ricardo Treviño Chapa, chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Safar Mehdiyev, Director General of Spain's Customs Excise Department Ms. Pilar Jurado, Head of the Borders Department of Guardia Civil of Spain Jose Angel Astillero, Vice-President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) Joaquin Gay de Montella and President of the Association of Professional Customs Brokers of the Americas (ASAPRA) Pedro Castro made reports, discussions were held. The speakers answered the participants' questions.
Addressing the meeting chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Safar Mehdiyev touched on three major elements of global trade, underlined the importance of political will for doing the trade in an easy and rapid way, ensuring economic growth, as said in the WCO's slogan for 2018, protecting secure trade environment and eliminating obstacles.
Safar Mehdiyev said the second factor was studying predictable environment. Every foreign economic activity participant should know the legislation, the level of logistic services and reforms carried out in that sphere in the country, with which trade will be done, should forecast possible risks beforehand.
Chairman of the Committee said the third element was to pay attention to ensuring security on all spheres of the global trade chain. Taking into account the large number of the bodies and private companies represented in the diversification of trade supply chain, the reforms carried out by the customs bodies, transparency or favorable condition are not sufficient.
Safar Mehdiyev said security of logistic service must be ensured on the highest level. These security measures are important in terms of further enhancing the activity of Authorized Economic Operator and establishing state-customs and customs-business relations.
Chairman of the Committee underlined the importance of making purchase-and-sale contracts in the banking and insurance sector, building mutual coordination in all elements of trade chain, noted that trade would develop in the countries, where all the three elements were ensured.
Noting that over the past 10 years Azerbaijan had gained significant achievements, Safar Mehdiyev underlined that the main architect of the achievements was President Ilham Aliyev, who demonstrated strong political will and carried out fundamental reforms in customs bodies. It was said that as a result of the reforms carried out since 2008 Azerbaijan's customs started applying one-stop-shop principles within a short period of time. Application of e-services has been expanded, realization of paperless customs service, minimization of citizen-public servant contact, transparency, abolition of cashless payments, elimination of corruption cases have made Azerbaijan's customs a reliable member of the world customs family.
Speaking about the large-scaled transport and logistics projects – Baku International Se Trade Port, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects implemented by the head of state with the view of contributing to safe and rapid realization of the international trade, chairman of the State Customs Committee said implementation of those projects increased responsibility of customs bodies and set new challenges for the customs service.
Afterwards, answering questions on the topic, Safar Mehdiyev said special programs were being implemented in Azerbaijan with regard to the development of small enterprises and underlined that the customs bodies attached special attention to that sphere.
The first day of the event ended with the Annual Assembly of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators.
On May 3, the Conference of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators was continued with the presentations on the theme "Establishing secure supply chain: AEO prospects for private sector operators".
Executive coordinator of Allianca PROCOMEX / Federation of Brazil Industry (CNI) John Mein, Director for Alliance Customs & Trade Russia and CIS, Renault-Nissan Lubov Babeshko, Vice-President of Moldova's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Natalia Calenic, Vice-President of the National Chamber of Customs Brokers of Bolivia Luis Ernesto Castedo and head of the International AEO Association SICA coordination center Joe Henry Thompson delivered reports on the topic.
Then, President and Managing Director of KGH Border Services Lars Karlsson presented the main report entitled "Silk Road: border security prospects".
The reporter talked about the globalization process, its impact on economy, development of trade. Lars Karlsson underlined that Azerbaijan located on the ancient and modern trade routes and its capital Baku had fantastically changed developing rapidly, said the country's support for the development of the international trade was of great importance.
Speaking about the ongoing economic processes in the world, the role of trade in the development of economy, new trade models and the global value chains, the speaker also drew attention to the border security and the role of information technologies in this area.
Touching on the role of the Authorised Economic Operator in the rapid and easy international trade, their emergence and prospects, Lars Karlsson underlined that relations among the parties involved in the trade chain must be strengthened.
Afterwards, presentations were made on the theme "Establishing secure supply chain: AEO prospects for state sector programs".
Speaking on the topic, Director General of Uruguay Customs Enrique Canon Pedragosa drew attention to the steps to be taken to ensure trade security, touched on the customs bodies' activity in this sphere, underlined the importance of state support for private sector, especially small and medium enterprises to achieve positive results.
Afterwards, department chief of Turkey's Ministry of Customs and Trade Jale Arslan, deputy chief of the international relations department of the Revenue Service of Georgia's Ministry of Finance Maka Khvedelidze and political advisor of Director General of the Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan's Finance Ministry Toshihiko Osava made reports on the topic.
After the work day of the conference was over, the participants visited Baku International Se Trade Port in Elet settlement.
The guests were informed about the port's activity, its capacity.
On May 4 – on the last work day of the conference reports were heard, discussions held on the theme "Customs-business cooperation: support for economic development" during the session moderated by Director General of Uruguay Customs Enrique Canon Pedragosa.
Permanent representative of the Association of Professional Customs Brokers of the Americas (ASAPRA) at the World Customs Organization's Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG) Alfonso Rojas del Castillo, Vice-President of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Antonio Vidales and representative of Tallinn University of Technology Kristina Juan Karrion delivered reports.
Afterwards, head of operation service of Baku International Sea Trade Port Yugen Show and Deputy Director of ADY Express company Elchin Ahmadov presented the main report entitled "Silk Road: intermodal transportation and logistics prospects". They informed the participants about Azerbaijan's potential and prospects in the spheres of transport and logistics.
Then, chief of the Main Department for Activity Assessment and Development Programs of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Igbal Babayev moderated Blockhain seminar.
After Igbal Babayev gave brief information about the topic, blockchain and crypto specialist Alvaro Llobet, Maersk company's commercial director for global trade digitalization Nicolas Bahmann, deputy executive director of the State Fund or Development of Information Technologies under the Ministry of Transport, Communication and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan Azer Bayramov delivered reports.
At the end of the event, State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) signed an Action Plan.
The protocol was signed by chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, customs service Lieutenant-General Safar Mehdiyev and President of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Antonio Llobet de Pablo.
Making a speech at the end of the conference, chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Safar Mehdiyev underlined the importance of the event in terms of doing global trade in an easy and rapid way, making more innovative approaches in customs-business relations. Chairman of the Committee said reports, successful presentations on the determination of special elements in the global trade, views on the development of state-customs, customs-business cooperation would contribute to setting new challenges for the participants and developing global trade.
Addressing the event, President of the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Antonio Llobet de Pablo expressed his gratitude to Azerbaijan's Customs Service, emphasized the importance of the event in terms of building confidence between the private sector and customs.