Many of my clients have complained, over the years, that the Korean Custom Service is much slower in clearing goods than other Asian custom departments. I have, also, run into instances where certain products were delayed significantly by the Custom Service in Korea because of the inexperience with particular products.
In the not so distant past, the KCS and other agencies were notorious for delaying clearance in order to allow Korean-made products to get to market first.
Good news for companies and consumers. The Commissioner of the Korean Custom Service (KCS) has vowed to make the customs clearance process move much quickly. I have heard this from other commissioners, but I actually believe this man, since he has a great reputation. The Commissioner has vowed to:
- Adopt more Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with other nations. At present, Korea only has MRAs with the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand; and,
- Increase the number of companies that may be designated as authorized economic operators (AEOs). The companies designated are the exclusive companies that can avail themselves of the simplified clearance process. I have dealt with a number of these companies and most are troubled by poor staffing and a poor understanding of the needs of clients. I recommend bringing in foreign AEOs to teach best practices. I work, now, with one of these agencies and if I stay on them, things goes smoothly. In the more complex of matters, it is best to involve, actively, a persuasive attorney.
The anti-FTA fervor that is spreading (Seoul mayor, liberal politicians and the ubiquitous crowd) may lead to the next administration (if a radical liberal government is appointed) to influence the future commissioner of the KCS and other agencies in order to stymie Korea’s new opening-up policy.
In many respects, Korea is much less open to foreign investors than China and most other nations in Asia.
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