Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - The heads of the customs services of the BRICS member countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - met for the first time in South Africa this week to discuss common problems and outline ways to extend cooperation.
The customs chiefs signed a protocol on cooperation on the results of the three-day meeting, held in Bela Bela, Limpopo province ahead of the 5th BRICS Summit taking place in Durban from 26 to 27 March.
'We have similar problems. We're all in the same boat,' the first deputy head of the Russian Federal Customs Service (FTS), Vladimir Malinin, said, adding that these included substitution of invoices, under-declaration of the value of goods, gray schemes and smuggling.
'The fight against drug smuggling is the priority,' Malinin said.
For speeding up customs procedures, the BRICS representatives agreed to unify their software, organise preliminary informing and stimulate electronic customs clearance of cargoes.
Malinin said his agency had already established contact with colleagues from China and India, but had 'practically had no' such contacts with Brazil or South Africa prior to this week's meeting.
He noted that Brazil and South Africa were 'advanced countries' in terms of the technological equipment of their customs.
'The significance of the BRICS as an international association is growing. We expect the political decisions of the summit to promote their implementation and make life easier for conscientious businesses,' Malinin said.
'With the development of trade, the work of customs authorities acquires particular importance,' he stressed.