October 22, 2020, 4:20 am

Staff Correspondent

2020-10-11 13:15:04 BdST

New customs law soon to smoothen cross-border trade

The new customs act, containing a number of provisions designed to automate the customs administration and facilitate cross-border trade, is expected to be passed in the next session of parliament (Jatiya Sangsad), scheduled to start in December.

According to the draft of the law, the customs authorities will have to hold mandatory consultation with the stakeholders prior to bringing in any change to the law or framing any rules.

The new law may also have the provision for transaction-based customs valuation system. Under the provision, valuation will be determined on the basis of transaction value of imported goods instead of minimum value or other process.

Businesses have long been demanding the transaction-based valuation system to resolve harassment at the customs point.

Officials said the new law is likely to get nod in parliament in the next session, replacing the existing law framed in 1969.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) had placed the draft of the new law before parliament in September last year.

A senior customs official said the new act will be in Bangla and have all provisions of the modern customs system as per the World Customs Organisation (WCO) guideline.

He said the NBR is yet to decide whether the new law will come into effect from December just after passing it or from next fiscal year 2021-22.

However, the NBR has started framing required rules and regulations, orders, and explanations necessary for implementing the law.

The first draft of the customs law was approved by the cabinet in September 2014 with some recommendations. The NBR is trying to replace the existing customs law since 2013.

"The new law will not bring any massive changes in customs rules and regulations after its enforcement, rather it would further facilitate the export-import activities and help ease of doing business," he added.

Meanwhile, a number of committees under the customs wing are working on reviewing the existing rules and regulations and make it compatible with the new law.

The NBR is working on issuing new rules and regulations for the new customs act. The NBR has formed an 11-member committee for this task.

The committee members will translate the existing rules, regulations and other required documents into Bengali. The committee will have to complete its work by October 31.

The NBR is also taking preparation to impart training to the customs officials, importers, exporters and other stakeholders on the new customs act. It has also formed another committee in this connection that will have to complete the training programme by December 11, 2020.

Once the new customs law is implemented, the time and cost of cross-border trade will be reduced significantly, officials have claimed.

Currently, it takes more than seven days to release goods from port after customs clearances. Implementation of the new customs act would help expedite the procedures through digitising the customs administration.

The draft law has provisions for advance cargo declaration, electronic submission of export-import documents, electronic payments and maintenance of electronic records to facilitate the traders.

The draft law has given magistracy power to the customs officials for the purpose of inspecting, conducting searches, seizures and arresting the violators of the proposed law.

Under the new law, the NBR will also have to publish customs-related all acts, rules, gazette notifications, orders and statutory regulatory orders on its web site on mandatory basis.

After implementation of the new law, there will be digital enquiry point where customs officials will respond to the queries of the stakeholders.

The government adopted the law in line with the Revised Kyoto Convention and SAFF Framework of Standards, two global conventions on standardization, simplification and supply chain security of international trade.

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