In continuing a tradition of AmCham Albania holding regular meetings with the General Directorate of Customs in 2022, AmCham Executive Director Neritan Mullaj said at the meeting that the chamber welcomes the constant dialogue it has with the customs administration. Customs Director General Genti Gazheli and his technical staff participated in the meeting, which was held with the physical presence of members, a first after two years of online meetings due to the pandemic. The meeting served to openly discuss not only the issues dealt with by the AmCham Tax and Customs Committee but also the problems that the chamber’s member businesses encounter in their daily operations.
The meeting dealt with longstanding but still relevant issues such as reference prices and online services, which continue to concern AmCham member businesses.
“I noticed that one of the main issues that we continue to talk about is that of reference prices and this is an issue that will eventually need a solution. Our vision is different, our vision is to eliminate the use of reference prices completely because it is an old and backward method,” AmCham Albania President Enio Jaço said at the meeting.
AmCham recommends that the customs administration evaluate and update the reference price data more often so that this method can really be applicable. AmCham recommends the customs administration to evaluate and update the reference price data more frequently so that this method is really applicable. For the American Chamber, it is importantfor the import of goods from the EU and United States, the first method of transaction price is used, as long as the customs administration has the opportunity to carry out information verifications following customs clearance. During the meeting, Ms. Uruçi emphasized how customs officers find it easier to apply the reference price even for cases where the import takes place in countries where trade transactions are easy to doublecheck. There are five evaluation methods before using the sixth reference price method. It is noted that in most cases automatically it gets from the first method: “transaction value” to the 6th method: “reference prices” bypassing the other methods. This is only due to the fact that this method is more comfortable and easier to use by employees of the customs administration” – said Mrs. Uruçi
Alketa Uruçi, the chairwoman of the AmCham Tax and Customs Committee, thanked the customs staff who over the years have been more cooperative and more digitized compared to other administrations and more innovative in providing services. Ms. Uruçi spoke about some issues that continue to concern AmCham members, leading an open discussion with the customs directorate representatives. The unification of customs clearance practices at all customs points, IT systems that make life easier for businesses and customs and shorten customs clearance time, fiscalization and triangular transactions, as well as updating businesses with changes in customs legislation were all part of Ms. Uruçi’s remarks.
In the framework of fiscalization and the inclusion of all types of transactions in this system, AmCham has suggested that more attention be given to triangular transactions, as an effective method to fight against evasion. More cooperation between taxes and customs is needed to understand triangular transactions and their correct implementation in the new fiscalization system.
Customer Director General Gazheli told AmCham members at the meetings that the customs administration has continuously provided open discussion forums to solve the problems that have arisen as customs worked to increase performance and added to the number of online services/applications to speed up customs procedures.
In 2021, a questionnaire designed in cooperation with AmCham was developed and published on the official customs administration website, where it was found that more than 63 percent of businesses consider relations with customs as very good, while 30.2 percent consider them good. Moreover, 67 percent believe the climate improved during 2021. Customs has continuous cooperation with IFC/World Bank, which have contributed to the improvement of business services in order to reduce the time and cost of these services. Digitalization has modernized the customs system, offering better quality services that are aligned with EU standards.
In order to measure the business perception of the quality of services in 2021, a questionnaire was designed by Customs in cooperation with the business community which has reflected their opinion on relations with customs, the quality of service, the reduction of costs and bureaucracies. Mr. Gazheli was proud that a significant part of the business community responded positively to the questionnaire.
In response to the issues raised by AmCham, the customs directorate experts provided some clarification on the Asycuda system, delays that occur due to the use of old equipment, the reasons behind the use of reference prices and other customs procedures.
Mr. Gazheli encouraged AmCham member businesses that have working relationships with customs to apply for AEO status as a new facility to reduce bureaucracy, delays and cost in customs processes. This status, which ensures fewer customs and physical checks, goes through a vetting and validation process by CEFTA and the EU at the time of application.
During the meeting, there was recognition of the latest developments in the context of access to the business account in the customs system. It is seen as a great achievement and a fruit of the annual forums previously held, as this issue has been raised by AmCham members in several forums organized by the chamber.
Remarks by AmCham President at the AmCham-Customs Forum
Customs is a cooperative institution, but there is still work to be done on outdated practices
It is a pleasure that we continue to discuss issues with Customs for several years. Before I came here I was reading a detailed report about the relationship and issues we have with Customs, and I had two different opinions.
First, I want to emphasize that it is very clear that during recent years we have had continuously improving cooperation with the customs institutions. It’s a cooperation which has at its core a professional communication and an open mind to solve some of our most important issues. But it also speaks about the willingness of the leader and the institution to solve the issues of our members.
At the same time, I am pleased to note that the customs administration today works together with some of the most important international institutions such as the World Bank and has undertaken important reforms in improving its systems. I think that these reforms will give their results in the future; we are supportive and wish them the greatest success because it will benefit our members.
On this occasion, I want to say that coordination with the customs administration is very important for us.
But, on the other hand, I also had a different opinion.
A few days ago, from the communications I had with journalists, someone told me: “Mr. Jaço, you have become a bit boring, because these are more or less the same things you discussed two years ago.” And when I was reading the report I noticed that one of the main issues that will be talked about a little later continues to be the use of reference prices, and this is an issue that will eventually need a solution.
Our vision is different, our vision is to completely eliminate the use of reference prices because it is an old and backward method.
AmCham’s view on trade envisions the exchange of goods as easily and safely as possible — and customs is the key institution to make that possible.
That’s something that is easy to ascertain, but it takes a lot of work from the customs to make it happen.
Our vision is to have stronger Albanian exports. Some of you here have really quality products that can compete in global markets — the opportunity of which has become even greater these days under the conditions of global pressures, the war in Ukraine, etc. Once again, the customs administration plays a very important role here.
But also e-commerce is at the center of our vision as well as simplified electronic procedures. I am convinced that we share this vision with the customs administration.
I wish you a successful session!