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EU Opens New Quotas, Reduces Tariffs, in Relation to Wide Array of Products

On 27 June 2018, two Regulations were published in the EU’s Official Journal which are likely to be of some interest to Hong Kong sellers. One of these opens and provides for the management of autonomous tariff quotas for certain agricultural and industrial products. The other Regulation suspends the autonomous common customs tariff duties on certain agricultural and industrial products.

Hong Kong sellers may benefit from the trading opportunities which are triggered, and which apply throughout the territory of the European Union.

Council Regulation 2018/913 is the first of the two new Regulations. It recounts that, in order to ensure the sufficient and uninterrupted supply of certain goods insufficiently produced in the European Union and so as to avoid disturbances on the market for certain agricultural and industrial products, autonomous tariff quotas were previously opened by framework Council Regulation 1388/2013.

According to the newly published Regulation, for those same reasons, it is necessary to open, with effect from 1 July 2018, tariff quotas at zero duty rates for an appropriate volume as regards seven new products, listed in the Regulation’s Annex. In the case of eight additional products, also listed, the quota volumes are increased, as an increase is considered to be in the interest of the EU’s economic operators. In the case of three products, the description has been amended (with the amendments found in the Regulation’s Annex).

Of undoubted interest to several Hong Kong traders exporting to the EU, products within the tariff quotas can be imported into the EU at reduced or zero duty rates.

Regarding the products for which quota volumes can be imported duty free, these include woven and laminated rubberised textile fabric (with specifically named characteristics), and power supply boards for use in the manufacture of goods falling under headings 8521 and 8528. Hong Kong traders are advised to examine new Council Regulation 2018/913 closely in respect of the products covered and the conditions attached thereto.

The Regulation has entered into force as a matter of urgency in order to avoid any interruption of the application of the quota scheme. Thus, the changes brought about by means of this latest Regulation 2018/913 have begun applying from 1 July 2018.

Council Regulation 2018/914 is the second Regulation of interest. It amends Regulation 1387/2013 (a framework Regulation as well), which suspends the autonomous common customs tariff duties on certain agricultural and industrial products. Interestingly for Hong Kong traders, this new Regulation states that the EU production of 85 products is not sufficient to cover the needs of the Union industry. It is therefore in the interest of the Union to suspend the autonomous Common Customs Tariff (the “CCT”) duties on those products, which include the following:

  • Certain rare earth concentrates;
  • Loudspeaker vibration dampers, made from round, corrugated, flexible and cut-to-size tissue of textile fibres of polyester, cotton or aramid or a combination hereof, of a kind used in car loudspeakers;
  • Evaporators made of aluminium for use in the manufacture of air conditioning machines for automobiles;
  • Certain vehicle burglar alarm devices;
  • LCD modules combined with touch screen facilities;
  • OLED modules;
  • Electronic airbag control units;
  • Bicycle handlebars.

Other ancillary changes have also been introduced by Regulation 2018/914. In order to avoid any interruption of the application of the autonomous suspension scheme, the changes brought about by Regulation 2018/914 regarding the suspensions for the products concerned have begun to apply from 1 July 2018.

Hong Kong traders are advised to closely examine the new Council Regulation to evaluate how best they may benefit from the introduced zero-rated duties, and the other changes that have been made under the Regulation.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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