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EU Law Published on Use of Electronic Portal for Customs Information Exchanges

On 15 November 2017, the European Commission published Implementing Regulation 2017/2089 on technical arrangements for developing, maintaining and employing electronic systems for the exchange of information and for the storage of such information under the Union Customs Code. The Regulation is scheduled to enter into force on 5 December 2017 and contains a number of provisions of potential interest to Hong Kong traders, including the establishment of an “EU trader portal”.

The Union Customs Code provides that all exchanges of information, such as declarations, applications or decisions, between economic operators and customs authorities are to be effected electronically. This also applies to exchanges amongst national customs authorities.

The new Regulation develops a number of electronic systems which had previously been referred to in the Union Customs Code. The Commission’s Work Programme (Regulation 2016/578) set up the Customs Decisions system (CDS), providing for an EU trader portal, a central customs decisions management system and customer reference services. The new Regulation therefore provides more detail on the procedures and functioning of the Customs Decisions system.

The Customs Decisions system will enable communication between the Commission, Member States and economic operators for the purposes of submitting and processing applications and decisions relating to customs matters. Of particular note to Hong Kong businesses is the inclusion of an “EU trader portal” which will act as an entry point to the Customs Decisions system for economic operators and allow electronic communications between traders and national and European authorities. It may be supplemented in the future by individual national trader portals. This is not certain, however, as EU Member States may use the EU trader portal for processing national authorisations and decisions as well.

Article 5(1) of the Regulation provides an exhaustive list of 22 authorisations which are to be applied for through the Customs Decisions system. These include authorisations for the simplification of the determination of amounts being part of the customs value of the goods, authorisations for the provision of a comprehensive guarantee, including possible reduction or waiver, authorisations for the deferral of payment of duty, and authorisations for the status of an authorised consignee.

As of 2 October 2017, economic operators have to introduce all new applications for customs decisions or authorisations electronically through the EU trader portal. Hong Kong traders will wish to note that they should apply for access to the customs authority of the place where the applicant's main accounts for customs purposes are held or accessible, and where at least part of the activities to be covered by the decision that is being sought will be carried out. The applicant will need to hold an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. An EORI number may be requested from the competent authority for EORI registration in the country where the customs decision application will be submitted.

The new Regulation represents a further step in the modernisation and development of the EU’s customs regime. The Commission has pointed to its aim of promoting economic growth by modernising the Customs Union procedures, harmonising EU rules and requirements (including process and data requirements) and gradually implementing and integrating trans-European IT systems.

In this context, new systems such as the Customs Decisions system and its EU trader portal component are expected to help increase process efficiency for all parties involved, from customs authorities to economic operators.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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