Proposed new customs law to facilitate international trade

Provisions will ensure int’l best practices

Doulot Akter Mala | Published: October 22, 2018 10:25:53 | Updated: October 23, 2018 10:44:21

Representational photo

The proposed new customs law has some provisions like assessment to be made based on globally-recognised transaction value to facilitate international trade, officials said.

Customs now follow different methods for valuation of imported goods, much to the annoyance of the traders.

Under the new law which is likely to come into force from the fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020, officials will only follow the globally-recognised transaction value of goods.

They will determine the payable duties based on that value -- the method that was a long-cherished demand of the businesses, especially multinational companies.

They had called for following the international transaction value for customs valuation to expedite release of goods and avoid unusual hassles.

The proposed law has provisions for imposing 'delay interest' on traders who will not take delivery of imported goods from the port within the given timeframe, willingly.

It has also incorporated provisions making it mandatory to discuss changes before making any amendments and issuance of new rules on customs measures.

A summary of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), prepared to compare the old law with the proposed one, revealed these changes.

After enforcement of the law, traders will be able to submit customs-related documents and pay duties and taxes online.

Provisions for advance cargo declaration, non-intrusive customs inspection and digital customs process have also been included in the new law to expedite trade.

According to the summary, discretionary power of customs officials will go while penal provisions for repeated offences of traders be increased in the law.

On October 03, the cabinet approved the Customs Act-2018 that will replace the existing Customs Act-1969.

Sources said some provisions of the new law are already introduced in FY 2019 by amending the existing one.

Post-clearance audit, risk management, advance passenger information (API) declaration and authorised economic operator are in the law.

The NBR introduced the provisions as per the Revised Kyoto Convention and SAFE Framework of Standards of the World Customs Organisation.

Under the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the customs wing also introduced advance ruling and interactive customs website.

Customs will follow non-intrusive inspection of goods instead of physical inspection.

The officials will use inspection technology like weigh bridge, scanner, weighing scale and trace detection for inspecting goods.

It is alleged that physical inspection process takes a long time, goods are often damaged and undue harassment caused to genuine traders.

As part of implementing the new law, the customs wing has already introduced a national enquiry point to respond to stakeholders' queries online.

Advance ruling in the proposed law will facilitate both exporters and importers to seek the NBR decision on issues like rate of duties and HS code of a product.

The process will help them avoid dispute with customs officials during the assessment period.

Talking to the FE on Sunday, a senior customs official said the new law will ensure international best practices. There will not be massive changes.

"We've incorporated many provisions in the Finance Bill-2018 to facilitate customs trade," he mentioned.

On several occasions earlier, businesses welcomed the new provisions meant for easing business.

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