Serbian Customs are preparing to start accepting ATA Carnets, an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) facility for the temporary duty-free admission of goods, from November 1.


The ATA Carnets, sometimes described as “passports for goods ‘, are already operated by 60 trading nations. To join the system, Serbia acceded to a set of international customs conventions on the temporary admission of goods that is administered by the Brussels-based World Customs Organisation (WCO).


Serbian Customs will accept the ATA Carnets for the temporary import of professional equipment, commercial samples and advertising material, and goods for display and use at trade fairs and exhibitions.


Earlier this year Belarus and Mongolia also introduced the carnet system, to the benefit of local enterprises.


Peter Bishop, recently-elected chairman of the ICC/WCF World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC) and deputy chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighted the positive signals conveyed by countries implementing the carnet system and the potential ensuing benefits.


“Serbia, Belarus and Mongolia’s accession to the ATA system sends a strong signal to both domestic and foreign businesses that these countries are determined to become players in global cross-border trade,” he says. “The introduction of the carnets will, for example, make their trade and industrial fairs more attractive to foreign participants.


“We’re expecting Iran, Pakistan and Chile to soon join the system and profit in similar ways,” he adds.


According to Alain Destouches, ATA administrative director, the ATA Carnet is “a perfect illustration of how close cooperation between customs and business can help facilitate international trade and promote global economic development. It is perhaps the most successful example of international co-operation between governments and the private sector.”


The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that gives exemption from the duties, taxes and other charges required by customs authorities for the temporary import of goods. It contains two vouchers for each foreign country visited – one for customs on entering a country and the other to be handed over on leaving. Last year 183,000 carnets, covering goods with an estimated value of US$13.8bn, were issued.


Camera equipment, computers (including laptops), repair tools, scientific and medical equipment, fine arts, jewellery, clothing, automobiles and live animals are some of the many items that can be covered by ATA Carnets. Business travellers can obtain their Carnets from their local chamber of commerce before leaving their home base.


The carnet system is jointly administered by the World Chambers Federation (WCF) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO). Carnets are issued by chambers of commerce and similar organizations affiliated with the ATA international customs guarantee chain set up by ICC/WCF.