We recently interviewed Roberta Ottaviani, head of external communication and relations for the Interregional Management of the Customs Agency of Liguria, Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta.
What does a Customs Agency do nowadays?
Historically the Customs Agency took care of the collection of customs duties, and today the Customs Agency is still a fiscal agency with its main duties including the management of internal taxation, collection of excise duties, customs duties as well as VAT on goods coming in from the EU. As well as this we have a duty to protect the citizen and his/ her health and fight the various crimes like smuggling and the illegal traffic of goods or counterfeiting. In many instances these activities are carried on in cooperation with other administrations such as The Financial Guard, the Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Customs verifications are an important part of your work. How do you carry them out?
All the customs declarations are all managed by the Agency’s Computer System (A.I.D.A.), which contains the integrated Customs Control Circuit. The system assesses the risk profile of one or more elements of the declaration (place of origin, type of goods, etc.) and selects the relevant type of control the goods are subject to (documentary, physical, or x-ray inspection of the container).
The definition of risk profile is based on constant intelligence activity carried out on a central and territorial level through information analysis and consultation of numerous national and European databanks. The constant process of evaluation and correction of the risk profile in relation to the controls carried out (the results of every control is registered in the system) allows a continuous improvement in terms of efficiency.
Can you talk to us about the new Electronic Dossier?
On May 1 of this year the new “Union Customs Code” came into effect and simultaneously the Customs Agency adopted the “Electronic Dossier” that allows the operators to avoid going to the customs office to control documents for the import/export operations. The necessary documents can actually be scanned and send to the customs electronically. Only in the case of dubiety of the authenticity of the documents do the operators have to present the original documents in the Customs Office.
We were able to immediately activate a simplification laid out by the new Code thanks to the development of the Customs IT-systems, which has taken, place in recent years. We began before many other European administrations that are only now beginning the digitalisation process. We keep up with the times.
How would you assess the collaboration with VTE?
It is a collaboration that has strengthened over time. At VTE we are able to carry out two inspection shifts daily and this is an excellent result. The Voltri section is the one that has the largest number of documents and as a result controls and inspections. We have to respect timeframes that are becoming tighter for the verification of the goods. With VTE the activity is synergic and this allows us to operate a very competitive timeframe.
What is the main challenge for you?
The main challenge is to limit the number of inspections by maximising efficiency. We know that each inspection brings with it an increase in cost and time for the companies, but at the same time it constitutes a defence for the market and consumers against counterfeit and dangerous goods, as well as underhand operators that carry out dishonest practices.
What are you working on?
The main innovation has to do with the implementation of the unified Counter of the Customs and Inspection established by Article 20 of Italian Law N.169 of 2016 regarding the reform of the port.
Thanks to this it will be possible to have an efficient coordination between the numerous competent administrations involved in the authorisation and the carrying out of the inspections. Through the interoperability of the computer systems of the various administrations involved the risk analysis will be unified for the selection of the various inspection and controls to be carried out. The unified control process will include all the officials of the various administrations involved
As well as this we are working on new experiments, such as the “Pre-Clearing”, customs clearance at sea. This is an important innovation because it allows the operators to transmit the importation declarations while the goods are still travelling. This will allow the Customs Agency and the other bodies involved to get ahead on the risk analysis, allowing for an immediate release of the goods, which does not require any further inspections, thus increasing the responsiveness of the port.