All Set for AED

In the lead up to the implementation of the Advance Export Declaration (AED) requirement on 1 April 2013, Singapore Customs has put in place new infrastructure and processes to ensure a smooth transition for businesses.

AED requires declarations for the export of all goods, including non-controlled and non-dutiable goods, to be submitted before the goods are moved out of Singapore.

AED enables Singapore Customs to have export data before the goods leave Singapore. This is a basic requirement for supply chain security. AED will enable the agency to conduct timely risk assessment and if need be, inspect the consignments before they are exported. As such, AED will help to strengthen global supply chain security and enhance the country's position as a trusted trade hub.

Prior to the AED requirement, declarations for exports of non-controlled and non-dutiable items by sea and air were allowed to be made within three days of the goods leaving Singapore.

With AED in place, Singapore Customs officers can now detect and prevent illicit cargo from leaving the country through early inspection. High-risk shipments are targeted by the agency for checks. Targeted sea export goods will be directed to the new Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station for scanning. For targeted air export cargo, they will be inspected by Singapore Customs officers at the various air cargo terminals within the Changi Airfreight Centre.

On the drawing board

The Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station undergoing construction earlier this year. Now operational, the station is located at the free trade zone of Pasir Panjang Terminal and enables Singapore Customs to scan and detect illicit cargo before they are exported out of the country by sea.

Since 2010, Singapore Customs has been consulting extensively with stakeholders to formulate the AED requirement, with an eye on minimising its impact on trade. A series of industry consultations with individual companies and key associations were held from April to December 2010. Traders were also invited to contribute comments through a public consultation in 2011.

In 2011, planning for infrastructure to support the scanning of cargo began.

Located next to the terminal gate of Pasir Panjang Free Trade Zone, the new Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station enables Singapore Customs to perform X-ray scans and radiation detection of container cargo exported by sea.

When planning for the construction of the station, one key requirement was for it to facilitate a fast, efficient and non-intrusive cargo scanning process. This is to reduce any impact on traders with tight shipping schedules.

But space constraints posed a great challenge. The 0.86ha plot of land had to accommodate an administration building and bulky cargo inspection equipment. Thus, careful consideration went into ensuring that there was sufficient space for drivers to manoeuvre the container cargo into, out of, and around the station safely
and smoothly.

Singapore Customs enforces AED for air cargo exports from its new setup in the Changi Airfreight Centre. To minimise the impact on logistics players, the agency has been working closely with various parties to fine-tune its procedures for cargo scanning, which is conducted at the air cargo terminals. One key objective was to ensure that the operations of ground handling agents and air express companies remain smooth and
hassle-free.

The second station for scanning sea exports, located on Brani island in the Keppel Free Trade Zone, is slated for completion in 2014.

New roles for Customs officers

More than 50 Singapore Customs officers went through extensive training in image analysis and cargo inspection before taking on new export scanning duties.

As export scanning is a new function for the agency, new units comprising over 50 experienced Singapore Customs officers were formed in 2012.

These officers play an important part in ensuring the safety of the supply chain. They inspect and make timely assessments on the legitimacy of the cargo, to determine if it should be released or detained for further action. This involves examining X-ray images to detect anomalies, analysing permits and documentation, as well as physical cargo inspection.

Before taking on their new roles, the officers went through extensive training on documentation, strategic goods control and commodity identification. They also picked up skills from their counterparts at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) through training courses and on-the-job attachments at ICA's Pasir Panjang Scanning Station.

To find out more about AED, visit the Singapore Customs website
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