Lunch with the Customs Administration
The Customs & Logistics committee hosted a lunch with guest speaker Liao Chao-hsiang, Director-General of the Customs Administration under the Ministry of Finance. The speaker gave an overview and analysis of recent import and export data, indicating trends in customs-related business, policies currently being promoted by the Customs Administration, ongoing efforts to improve border management and deepen international cooperation.
The Customs Administration currently has a total staff of 4,000. In 2016, total income from customs duties reached NT$494.5 billion.
Taiwan's nominal average tariff rate is 6.31%, higher than Japan's 4.80% but lower than those of South Korea, Southeast Asian and other countries and approaching those of Europe and the United States.
Taiwan continues to see high growth in the number of visitors, which reached close 50 million in 2016. In 2015 freight cargo volume expanded by about 2.1% on imports of 4.58 million containers and exports of 4.5 million containers. In 2016 the Customs clearance service processed 30.8 million aircraft sorties, 50,000 merchant ships and 2.77 million parcels.
Thanks to the Customs' procurement of technology equipment and the deployment of anti-narcotics dogs, they were successful in confiscating close 3,000 kilograms of illegal drugs and 2 million illegal cigarettes in 2016. DG Liao noted that the problem of illegal smuggling of cigarettes is likely to get worse given the government's recent increase in the tax on legal cigarettes.
Customs has frequent interactions with and ongoing cooperation with their counterparts in other countries, including European countries in the areas of anti-trafficking.
DG Liao went on to describe the actions the administration has taken recently. According to Liao, Customs has been responsible for 63 changes to regulations and making a number of changes aimed at improving the efficiency of its operations. Thanks to these efforts there has been a noticeable improvement in the time it takes to clear goods. In addition, the time it takes to process tax refunds has been cut from 56 days to just 4 days.
Substantial efforts have also been made to cut down on paperwork in favour of paperless transactions and documents processed on tablets or other electronic devices. The 1-stop service window, first introduced in 2014, is to be upgraded next year to include more functions. Further improvements slated for this year include combining checking systems, which are currently handled by different government agencies.
Taiwan has signed bilateral agreements with 34 countries. In addition, in November 2016, the Customs Administration signed an anti-fraud administrative cooperation agreement with the EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF). The agreement aims to deepen bilateral cooperation, crack down on fraud and safeguard the interests of EU and Taiwanese industry. Thanks to this cooperation, Taiwan is receiving and sharing information on fraud cases with its partners.
On the subject of the issues raised in the ECCT's 2017 Position Papers, DG Liao said that Customs is already taking action to resolve several of the issues. He concluded by saying that he welcomed input from the ECCT on where further improvements can be made to make Taiwan more attractive as an investment destination.