China Celebrates a Decade in ATA Carnet System

L-R: Yang Huazhang (CCPIT), Cynthia Duncan (USCIB, Peter Robinson (USCIB), Song Lee Ju (Singapore International Chamber of Commerce), Peter Bishop (London Chamber of Commerce & Industry), Hao Chongfu (Chinese Customs Control & Inspection)
L-R: Yang Huazhang (CCPIT), Cynthia Duncan (USCIB, Peter Robinson (USCIB), Song Lee Ju (Singapore International Chamber of Commerce), Peter Bishop (London Chamber of Commerce & Industry), Hao Chongfu (Chinese Customs Control & Inspection)

Business representatives from around the world gathered last month in Beijing to mark China’s ten years in the ATA Carnet system, the innovative network of nations granting duty-free, tax-free entry to many types of goods.

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson led a delegation of U.S. business experts to the meeting.  USCIB was instrumental in helping to open up the world’s most populous country to Carnets in the 1990s.  Over 7,000 Carnets have been issued for U.S. goods to enter China since its entry into the system.

China now ranks 12th among 65 countries in the ATA System, with over 3,200 Carnets issued in 2007 for goods valued at $73 million (U.S.), an increase of up 35 percent over 2006.

That number should grow significantly as the result of this year’s Beijing Olympics, for which China temporarily expanded the scope of goods admissible under Carnets to include professional equipment.

The global ATA Carnet system, overseen by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Customs Organization, permits the duty- and tax-free temporary exports of a wide range of goods for business use for up to one year.  Almost 160,000 ATA Carnets were issued worldwide in 2007 for goods valued at $17 billion.

Following 10 years of negotiations, Chinese customs authorities implemented the ATA Carnet system in March 1998 and appointed the China Chamber of International Commerce/China Center for the Promotion of International Trade (CCOIC/CCPIT) as the ATA Carnet national guaranteeing organization.

“USCIB was pivotal in bringing China into the Carnet system,” said Cynthia Duncan, USCIB’s senior vice president for Carnet operations.  Mr. Robinson, then-Carnet director Bruce Wilson and Anna Zhang, a Beijing native who joined USCIB in the 1980s and presently serves as director of Carnet claims, played “key roles,” according to Ms. Duncan, in advancing the date of China’s membership.  USCIB provided early training for CCOIC/CCPIT representatives, and it has been active in training and troubleshooting ever since.

“China has been a great addition to the ATA Carnet network,” said Peter Bishop (London Chamber of Commerce & Industry), chairman of the World ATA Carnet Council, part of ICC’s World Chambers Federation.  “There is no doubt that its participation will grow as time goes by and further anniversaries are celebrated.”

Recently China has taken other steps to facilitate cross-border movement of goods.  Chinese Customs, CCOIC/CCPIT and the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games put in place measures to ease the issuance of ATA Carnets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September.  Hundreds of ATA Carnets were used to get an estimated $400 million worth of goods into China for the games, with TV and radio equipment used by news crews from around the world leading the way.

Ms. Duncan said it is hoped that this experience will pave the way for the Chinese authorities to permanently extend the scope of application of ATA Carnets to encompass professional equipment and commercial samples in the near future.

Staff contact: Cynthia Duncan

More on the ATA Carnet Export Service

More on USCIB’s China Committee

Staff Contact:   Jonathan Huneke

VP, Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5043

Jonathan Huneke is responsible for USCIB’s strategic communications, including media relations, publications, online content and high-level public events. He also manages the work of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.
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