Annual Report 2013 - Page 13

American Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia OTHER KEY ACTIVITIES In addition to organizing events, supporting committee initiatives, overall communications and organizing Board meetings, the Executive Office maintains relationships with other AmChams in the region, the U.S. embassy in Macedonia and a variety of other institutions and organizations. Below are some of the many activities undertaken during 2013 to foster these relationships and increase the value AmCham Macedonia offers its members. Customs Advisory Body Participation Given that many of our member organizations depend on an efficient, fair and consistent Customs Administration, AmCham continued in 2013 to take part in regular meetings of the Customs Advisory Body. The meetings provide a venue to follow Customs plans and activities as well as raise member concerns with regard to Customs policies and procedures. Specifically this year, AmCham raised two concerns. The first was with regard to the Adminstration’s approach to mandatory fines. In Macedonia, harmless clerical errors – even those proactively identified by company employees – are punished by mandatory fines. Toward changing this practice, AmCham provided an analysis of U.S. Homeland Security practice for consideration and discussion by the group and continues to raise this issue to relevant officials on a regular basis. The second concern was with regard to the lack of coordination between Customs systems and those of related institutions such as the Public Revenue Office. The current system requires companies to continue paying taxes and fees at Customs, despite being owed a refund from another office within the Ministry. AmCham argued that, were the Macedonian Ministry of Finance to maintain consolidated records of its related activities carried out by the Tax Authority and the Customs Administration, Customs could credit companies up to the amount they are owed by the Tax Authority, rather than further damaging companies’ cash flow by collecting additional funds. This year, Customs announced a new interface with the Public Revenue Office, however, the tool appears to have been designed to meet a strictly internal institutional need that will not yet relieve companies of the issues detailed above. AmChams in Europe Transatlantic Summit AmCham Macedonia’s Executive Over joined the 30 participants representing 28 AmChams from across Europe and beyond in the 2013 annual AmChams in Europe Transatlantic Conference. While in Washington, DC, ACE delegates attended a U.S. Chamber briefing and lunch alongside business executives from the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade (BCTT). A meeting with the U.S. State Department took place together with a roundtable seminar with Kathleen Doherty, the European Bureau’s Deputy Assistant Secretary and Bill Craft, the Economic Bureau’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and included regional break-out sessions to discuss the importance and implications of the Transatlantic 13