Custom Clearance in Korea may be Getting Simplier for European Companies

Many of my clients have complained, over the years, that the Korean Customs Service (“KCS”) is much slower in clearing goods than other Asian customs departments. I have, also, run into instances where certain products were delayed significantly by the Customs Service in Korea because of 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 Customs Service has vowed to make the customs clearance process move much more quick. I have heard this from other commissioners, but I actually believe this man, since he has a great reputation. The Commissioner has vowed to:

  1. 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,
  2. 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 with them, things go 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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