The 23rd Meeting of the ASEAN Director Generals of Customs convened in Da Lat city, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, on June 3.

The event drew nearly 70 officials from the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and some international institutions.

The meeting reviewed ASEAN customs development plans from 2011 to 2015, and devised action plans and working programmes for the bloc’s customs agencies in the 2016-2020 period.

ASEAN has recorded some notable achievements on its way to building an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. For example, it has signed the ASEAN Customs Agreement, built initial legal frameworks for an ASEAN customs transit system, and established a one-door customs mechanism.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said that the meeting will constitute an important step towards the ASEAN Community and enhance regional customs cooperation.

Vietnam has hosted similar meetings in 1995 and 2004.

At the event, General Director of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Ngoc Tuc expressed concern over China’s placement of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 and many military ships and aircraft in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

He said China’s move violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982 and directly jeopardises peace, stability, security and safety of navigation in the East Sea and free trade in Southeast Asia.

Tuc called on his counterparts to share Vietnam’s stance on solving the issue peacefully in accordance with international law.

Meanwhile, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya told the media that the East Sea tension has affected cargo transportation through this area.

He expressed his belief that the incident will be settled peacefully so as to ensure navigational safety and promote free trade through the East Sea – one of the core shipping lines in the world.-VNA