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Workshop Looks at Best Practices in Customs Procedures in South America

Customs procedures under the free trade agreements that have been signed with several South American countries were the focus of a two-day workshop conducted in Lima, Peru, this past July. It was one workshop in a series designed to facilitate trade throughout the region.

by Judy Lao

A workshop in Lima, Peru, on July 14–15, 2009, brought together more than 60 public- and private-sector officials from throughout South America to identify customs clearance efficiency and modernization best practices.

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After participating in a customs workshop in Lima on July 14–15, 2009, officials of the Department of Commerce and the Peruvian customs service visited port facilities in Callao, Peru. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
After participating in a customs workshop in Lima on July 14–15, 2009, officials of the Department of Commerce and the Peruvian customs service visited port facilities in Callao, Peru. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)


The two-day workshop addressed ways in which Peru and other U.S. trade partners in the region could support their respective free trade agreements with the United States. Highlights included how to achieve the 48-hour border clearance timeline called for under the agreements, to understand the economic benefits of efficient supply chains, and to modernize customs procedures.

Some of the techniques discussed included developing human capital; instituting more efficient procedures; and implementing regimes that focus on ethics, integrity, and transparency. The workshop also included a roundtable forum that gave participants an opportunity to voice their concerns and to discuss potential solutions to common customs challenges.

Public- and Private-Sector Cooperation

The workshop was developed in response to requests from the U.S. private sector and Peru’s customs administration for training and a joint public–private sector forum on trade facilitation.

The Department of Commerce teamed with customs experts from the World Bank Group, Peru American Chamber of Commerce, Dell, and Georgia Tech Supply Chain Institute, as well as with government customs officials from Guatemala, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay.

The reactions from participants were overwhelmingly positive. According to Juan Cordara of Dell Perú SAC, “The workshop helped us to better understand how efficient customs procedures affect our supply chain and impact our customers.”

One of a Series

The July workshop is part of a series of workshops organized by the Department of Commerce that have focused on critical trade issues, such as supply chain security and border clearance procedures. In addition to Peru, other customs workshops were been held in February (in Castries, St. Lucia), and in March (in San José, Costa Rica). Future workshops are in the planning stages for late 2009 and early 2010.

Follow-up efforts at trade facilitation will include working with Peru and other countries in the region to support the customs best practices that were identified by workshop participants. In addition, the Department of Commerce will seek to work with the World Bank Group and the American chambers of commerce in the region to identify additional opportunities that will strengthen trade relationships between the United States and Latin America.

Judy Lao is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.


For More Information

To obtain more information on the Department of Commerce’s customs workshops in the Western Hemisphere, contact Tipten Troidl of the International Trade Administration, tel.: (202) 482-6294; e-mail:


Peru: A Fast-Growing Market for U.S. Exports

Peru is one of the fastest-growing export markets in Latin America for the United States. U.S. exports to Peru more than doubled during the past three years, from $2.9 billion in 2006 to $6.2 billion in 2008. In February 2009, the U.S.–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement officially entered into force. The agreement allows immediate duty-free access for more than 80 percent of U.S. exports entering Peru. For more information on business opportunities in Peru, contact Judy Lao of the International Trade Administration, tel.: (202) 482-1536; e-mail: