As consecutive GATT rounds have successfully reduced traditional tariff barriers to international trade, it has become increasingly apparent to world business – the engine of economic growth – that customs regulations and procedures are among the most significant remaining non-tariff barriers to global commerce.
A growing proportion of the movement of goods and services across international borders is the result of the global integration of supply, production and distribution systems. Increasing reliance on just-in-time production and delivery makes speedy customs clearance a major issue for business. In this context, simple, predictable and uniform customs controls, honestly and efficiently applied, are essential to ensure that the effects of global trade liberalization have a positive impact at the level of the individual international trade transaction.
In October 1996, as an initial business contribution to customs modernization, the ICC produced its “International Customs Guidelines“, which were submitted to member governments of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in advance of the first Ministerial Conference of the WTO held in Singapore from 9 to 13 December 1996. These recommended practices are intended to enhance trade facilitation and improve the effectiveness of customs controls.