22 Aug 2019
Eurasian Economic Union Completes Customs Code Harmonisation
More than 18 months after Customs Code formally adopted, five-nation bloc announces implementation arrangements.
The Eurasian Economic Union Commission – the executive body of the five-nation Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – has finally completed work on the clarification and harmonisation exercise required to fully implement the trading bloc's unified Customs Code.
Although the Code was formally adopted in January 2018 as a means of ensuring all member countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russian – present a united front when exporting to / importing from third-party nations, its actual utility has been hampered by a lack of standardisation across the bloc and inconsistent interpretations of a number of the Code's stipulations.
Now, though, it is hoped that the Commission's ruling will clear up the discrepancies and inconsistencies relating to seven key areas of the Code:
Customs Clearance Time
Average customs clearance time across the bloc is to be standardised at four hours, with the countdown beginning as soon as the final customs declaration procedure is completed. Furthermore, following the initial declaration, additional documentation may be requested in line with the requirements of the unified system. In certain specified circumstances, payment of any duty due may be postponed for up to six months following prior approval by the relevant customs body.
Unified State and Municipal Service Portals
The priority at all times is to streamline customs administrative processes and ensure they remain as user-friendly as is practical. In line with this, exporters and importers can now approach customs bodies via the Unified State and Municipal Services Portals in their respective member nations. These systems have been designed to ensure that accessing the required information relating to declared value, country of origin confirmation and product classification is straightforward and instant. Such portals are already online in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, with similar facilities in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan expected to follow in due course.
The ruling establishes a clear rationale and defines the required procedures for establishing exact customs value. Accordingly, the customs authorities have now been authorised to use information supplied by member states' official trade missions, as well as professional and business associations, logistics and insurance companies, suppliers and manufactures of homogeneous and identical goods, as the basis for such valuations.
In line with concerns expressed by Russia, a list of strategically important goods and resources that cannot be transported out of the EEU without official sanction has been compiled. Among the items featured on the list are the following: precious metals; precious stones and non-cultivated pearls, and any goods containing such items; wristwatches and pocket watches (as well as other wearable devices and accessories made of precious metals or decorated with them); watch cases made of precious metals; and watch bracelets / straps made of precious metals, precious metal ores or concentrates. Undeclared conveyancing of such items is now a criminal offence.
Countries of Origin
Under the terms of the clarified Countries of Origin (COO) arrangements, a COO certificate has to be provided in all instances that customs clearance is sought. This is in case the goods in question originate from a country with non-preferential status or are covered by anti-dumping, compensatory or other restrictive measures. In line with this, exporters are advised to secure such certificates well in advance and to contractually oblige suppliers / distributors to provide such documentation.
Testing / Certification Samples
The procedures for clearing samples for certification and testing, which have to be declared when exiting EEU borders and only remain exempt from duty should their value be below €200, have also been clarified. In such instances, the estimated value should not include any VAT liability, insurance or logistics costs. In all cases, a duly authorised copy of the customs declaration should be kept on file by the relevant certification / testing body.
Currency Control Contracts
Contract durations now have to be stipulated with regard to all currency control applications, with it no longer being permittable for such contracts to be open-ended. Any such existing arrangements relating to foreign trade deals exceeding €5,000 in value terms should be deemed retrospectively cancelled as of 1 March 2018.
Leonid Orlov, Moscow Consultant