The 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the Global Economic forum, reflected the progress that has been made in the U.A.E.'s customs sector in recent years in terms of customs procedures efficiency.
The report noted that the U.A.E. has moved up two places in the global ranking for customs procedures KPI, coming in third after previously coming in fifth, according to last year's report.
Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Acting General Director of the Federal Customs Authority, stated that the U.A.E.'s progress in global competitiveness KPIs demonstrates the foresight of the U.A.E. wise leadership in aiming for higher ranks in the Global Competitiveness KPIs. Al Bustani added that this foresight was based on a real familiarity with the fields and sectors that support growth and progress in different economic sectors, and was not just a result of any particular aspirations that are not consistent with the capacities and capabilities that the U.A.E. boasts.
Al Bustani continued that U.A.E.'s placement among the top rankings in the global competitiveness KPIs shows that its wise and executive leaderships in government and private entities possess the tools that enable them to properly plan and efficiently make use of available resources, to identify their objectives and follow up the implementation of the said objectives in order to achieve them.
Al Bustani noted that the directives of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the U.A.E., May God protect him, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, May God watch over him, have given incentive to senior and executive leaders in the state to achieve the desired objectives in order to reach first place in all KPIs categories in accordance with the U.A.E. Vision 2021.
Al Bustani congratulated the U.A.E. wise leaders and praised the efforts of the U.A.E.'s customs departments, particularly Dubai Customs and the Customs Competitiveness team, as well as the related ministries, entities and all partners in the customs sector, which resulted in the U.A.E. raking third in the world customs procedures KPI.
Al Bustani stated that the U.A.E.'s progress in global competitiveness rankings for customs work in particular shows a trend of gradual improvement from one year to the next, which in turn demonstrates that this progress is not occurring randomly, but is the result of practical and objective development plans across all customs sectors.
Al Bustani added that the customs sector in the U.A.E. experienced leaps and bounds in recent years in terms of efficiency of performance, latest systems, equipment and technology, in addition to the development of customs procedures and standardisation of inspection procedures at the state level, which has resulted in shorter customs consignments release period and greater ease in carrying out followed procedures at different customs ports.
Al Bustani pointed out that, at the federal level, the Federal Customs Authority had relegated great importance to the competitiveness KPIs for customs work, mainly the logistical support KPI and customs procedures KPI. The FCA, in cooperation with local customs departments, federal bodies, and the private sector, is seeking to implement future plans to improve work, support, and logistical infrastructure performance in the U.A.E.
Al Bustani explained that the strategies of local customs departments that are currently being implemented show clearly the importance relegated by these departments to boost economic and social competitiveness through strategic plans in the field of economics generally and in the field of customs work specifically. The local departments aim to develop their customs capabilities through improving infrastructure, reinforcing institutional culture, and implementing future plans according to international standards and principles.
The Acting General Director of the Federal Customs Authority stated that based on the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the cabinet has ordered in the fourth quarter of last year the identification of competitiveness KPIs for 2014.
Al Bustani added: "In response to these directives, the KPIs were identified as part of the FCA's strategic plan 2014-2016. Further, a customs competitiveness local team was formed by virtue of FCA chairman decision No. 42 of 2013 to follow through with the implementation of the competitiveness KPIs, led by FCA and with the membership of local customs departments and the U.A.E.'s Competitiveness Council.
Al Bustani explained that the FCA seeks during the period 2014-2016 to achieve four strategic objectives through improving customs work in the field of commerce facilitation and competitiveness support, supporting customs departments in terms of inspection and risk management, in order to strengthen the security of the community, reinforcing the customs relations with the other countries and international organisations, and ensuring that all administrative services are provided in accordance with high quality, efficiency and transparency standards.
Al Bustani noted that the FCA's strategy 2014-2016 includes a number of initiatives to develop customs procedures and policies, improve electronic systems to facilitate commerce in the country, a customs clearance time project, customs clearance management, provision of statistical information, addressing impediments to commercial exchange, international studies on international best practices, customs training and promoting competitiveness KPIs for customs work.
Al Bustani added: "The strategy also involved initiatives to develop inspection procedures and policies, pre-screening for shipments, managing risks, Green U.A.E. customs, the development of capabilities of customs departments in managing risks and crises, and joining regional and international agreements and organisations." The FCA's Acting General Director explained that competitiveness means the ability to achieve prosperity in the long term while maintaining balance between productivity and quality of life, through strengthening productivity in sectors with high added value, including the customs sector, which in turn boosts levels of prosperity for individuals and communities.
Al Bustani noted that the FCA has taken a series of procedures to strengthen the U.A.E.'s competitiveness. The most important of these was to identify 8 competitiveness KPIs that comply with the FCA work and set forth initiatives to reinforce them, i.e. customs management KPI, import and export procedures KPI, cross-border commerce KPI, the import number of days required KPI, import related number of documents necessary KPI, export number of days required KPI, export related number of documents necessary KPI, and customs authorities KPI.
Al Bustani confirmed that the customs competitiveness team had prepared a comprehensive work plan for 2014 to improve the U.A.E.'s performance and position in the competitiveness KPIs. This plan is currently being implemented in cooperation with the customs departments and the U.A.E. Competitiveness Council.
Al Bustani noted that the customs competitiveness team's tasks have been defined in following up on the implementation of the competitiveness KPIs and carrying out necessary correctional procedures in achieve the said KPIs through working to raise the U.A.E.'s commercial exchange and the needed customs tariff for international organisations through concerned bodies, and notifying those organisations of the latest developments particular to customs procedures, policies, and laws, or any information related to customs work that may help improve the U.A.E.'s KPIs, in addition to communicating with the private sector in cooperation with the U.A.E.'s Competitiveness Council and the FCA's concerned committees, and following up on the implementation of customs procedures in the U.A.E.
Al Bustani explained that the FCA was selected as a distinguished team in the federal government to demonstrate best practices in working on competitiveness KPIs in the U.A.E.'s Competitiveness Council's third workshop on the competitiveness KPIs and achieving the No. 1 globally.
Regarding the steps that were taken to improve the efficiency of customs procedures, Al Bustani said that, in cooperation with local customs departments and concerned parties in the country, through a customs procedures committee and inspection committee, the FCA has issued and updated a unified customs procedure guide for the whole country. It has also issued a unified guide for inspection procedures in an effort to facilitate and simplify customs procedures and boost the U.A.E.'s competitiveness in this field.
Al Bustani indicated that these guides have helped to strengthen transparency between the FCA and local customs departments on the one hand, and among strategic partners among importers, merchants, and travellers on the other. They seek to improve the level of protection for individuals in the community from any unsound practices related to import and export procedures and rules, allowing any consignments that appear in the unified customs law, as well as verifying the country's legal commitment to it.
He added: These guides aim to facilitate the exchange of experiences among local customs departments in the U.A.E. and to unify inspection measures and procedures for goods at all ports of entry and to simplify them in the interests of merchants and partners in a way that protects their rights and gains. This, among other factors, has helped to boost the U.A.E.'s position in the customs procedures KPI category in the Global Competitiveness KPIs.
Al Bustani disclosed that in light of the U.A.E.'s success in unifying customs procedures and inspection procedures at all customs ports, the FCA recently introduced an initiative at meetings of the Gulf Customs Union Authority that includes the unification of inspection procedures among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. This has helped to simplify procedures and facilitate commerce as a strategic goal for the authority and the U.A.E. He explained that this initiative has been met warmly by the member countries of the GCC.
Al Bustani stated that the FCA also unified customs services fees across the country, improving customer satisfaction in the private sector and other institutions working in import and export.
Al Bustani affirmed that the FCA and customs departments in the U.A.E. are keen to boost the U.A.E.'s position in the global KPIs and realise the aspirations and vision of the U.A.E.'s wise leadership and Emirati citizens of achieving first place globally in the field of customs competitiveness.