'3S' cooperation adds new practices to Global Development Initiative
Published: Oct 11, 2022 12:51 AM
Yantian Port in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

Yantian Port in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

In September 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the "Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly. Chinese leader stated that development is the eternal pursuit of human society and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the core mission of current international development cooperation. "Digital-era Connectivity" is listed as one of the eight priority areas of the GDI.

On June 24, 2022, President Xi chaired the High-level Dialogue on Global Development. Carrying out cooperation on "Smart Customs, Smart Borders, Smart Connectivity" ("3S") to promote connectivity among customs authorities and other stakeholders along supply chains is one of the important deliverables of the Dialogue. On September 20, 2022, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) in New York during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, further elaborated on specific ideas to promote "3S" cooperation as one of the seven additional measures taken by China to advance the GDI to implement the 2030 Agenda, and expressed that China would work with international organizations such as the World Customs Organization and other countries to strengthen the construction of smart customs networks and promote connectivity in global supply chains, thus adding new cooperation practices to the GDI.

Concept of '3S' originates from international trends

In recent years, the World Customs Organization (WCO) has also been committed to exploring ways to achieve better connected supply chains. In 2021, the WCO bolstered "Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain". In 2022, it advocated "Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem", encouraging Member Customs to strengthen smart cooperation, innovate working methods and promote connectivity. China Customs has been at the forefront in strengthening smart cooperation with the World Customs Organization and other customs institutions, and in furthering the construction of customs connectivity.

China Customs has accelerated its pace of capitalizing on technology and innovation, and a great many of "3S" pilot projects have been cultivated nationwide. Based on innovative practices such as smart gates, smart passenger examination and AI-based image reading, a number of high quality projects have been launched including "5G Smart Inspection", "Smart Supervision over Mails from Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR" and "Smart Inspection in Automated Terminal". These projects have achieved substantial results in promoting trade facilitation and are well received by importers and exporters.

A single flower does not make spring, but one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden. The ultimate goal of the "3S" concept is to enhance international customs cooperation on Digital-era Connectivity through the practice of true multilateralism, to achieve "Smart Connectivity" and offer solutions to global sustainable development. China Customs has actively carried out "3S" cooperation with its counterparts. For example, it successfully established the China-CEEC Customs Information Center and the related website, built China-ASEAN SPS Cooperation Information Website together with ASEAN countries and carried out information exchange and cooperation with Singapore Customs. Fruitful outcomes in strengthening international connectivity have been continuously achieved. The concept of "3S" provides global customs with an open, inclusive and win-win platform, so that customs of different geographical locations and development stages can exchange experience and share resources, thus achieving all-round, multi-tiered and high-level connectivity. 

Upholds core concepts and principles of the GDI

Connectivity promotes the free flow of people, capital, goods and ideas. It is the inevitable need of economic development and the important approach for releasing development potential. Close economic ties enhance connectivity while high-level connectivity facilitates economic growth. Economies make progress through exchange and connectivity and fall behind because of seclusion and closeness. As the world faces a pandemic and momentous changes both unseen in a century, connectivity can facilitate the free flow of production factors and advance the building of pluralistic cooperation platform to achieve win-win results and shared benefits. That's why connectivity is of practical significance under the current severe circumstances.

Customs is a critical link in the global supply chain. As a border agency, the role of customs has rich experience and favorable conditions in international trade supervision. It shoulders important responsibilities in ensuring safe, stable and unimpeded international supply chains. Currently, global industrial and supply chains have been disrupted, and unilateralism and protectionism are mounting, dealing a severe blow to economic globalization. Global development is facing serious challenges. To meet the public's growing expectations for improving trade security and facilitation and achieving common development, higher requirements are made for customs to innovate working mindset, deepen international cooperation, and operate more effectively through smart control, so as to ensure a secure and stable global supply chain. Customs are encouraged to strengthen international cooperation, promote connectivity and maintain global trade security and facilitation to serve the world's common development.

Great potential

"Smart" is the core concept of "3S". It involves not only the application of advanced technologies and equipment, but also the innovation of administrative systems and working methods. Driven by advanced technologies and innovative solutions, "3S" is to promote smart customs governance, coordinated border governance and concerted global governance, in an effort to better secure and facilitate the international trade. In order to fully implement President Xi's Global Development Initiative, there is a promising future for China Customs to coordinate the global customs community in the "3S" cooperation and promote connectivity and common development on international customs and supply chains.

First, apply smart technologies and innovative thinking to promote "Smart Customs". Actively explore the application of 5G communications, big data, AI and other technologies in customs clearance, risk management, customs control and other areas. Introduce innovative thinking and adopt scientific methods to forge modern customs capable of digital processing, network-based transmission and smart identification.

Secondly, improve information sharing and mutual recognition of customs control to promote "Smart Borders". Enhance cooperation between customs and other government agencies and jointly explore effective border management solutions to foster transformation towards digital ports and facilitate information exchange and sharing. Conduct innovative border cooperation based on mutual recognition of customs control results.

Third, deepen cooperation with other stakeholders to promote "Smart Connectivity". Safeguard the security, stability and smoothness of the supply and industrial chains. Build strategic partnerships among customs, between customs and other government agencies, and between customs and the private sector. Fully understand the needs of all stakeholders and enhance cooperation and mutual trust, to achieve all-round, multi-tiered and high-level connectivity.

Finally, seek shared benefits, win-win outcomes and common development through application of collective wisdom. Take into account the concerns of all stakeholders and respect different management models of different customs. Pool collective wisdom and strength, take a mutually-assisting and win-win approach, and enable all stakeholders to give full play to their advantages and share the benefits, to establish a more equal and balanced global development partnership, thus achieving common and sustainable development.

The author is an observer of international affairs. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn