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Trading Opportunities Arise Due to Opening of Quotas and Suspension of Duties on Wide Array of Products

On 30 December 2015, two new Regulations were published in the EU’s Official Journal, providing potential new export opportunities for Hong Kong traders in respect of a variety of goods. One of the Regulations opens and provides for tariff quotas, while the other suspends customs duties. Both are applicable to a large number of agricultural and industrial products for import into the EU.

New Council Regulation 2015/2448 relates to autonomous tariff quotas. It amends Regulation 1388/2013, which is the framework Regulation opening autonomous tariff quotas.

The new Regulation states that, in order to ensure the sufficient and uninterrupted supply of certain goods that are not sufficiently produced in the EU, and to avoid any disturbances on the market for certain agricultural and industrial products, autonomous tariff quotas have previously been opened by Council Regulation 1388/2013.

Products falling within those tariff quotas can be imported into the EU at reduced or zero duty rates. Due to the same reasoning, it was deemed necessary to open, with effect from 1 January 2016, tariff quotas at zero duty rates for an appropriate volume as regards 10 additional products.

The Regulation makes other changes to existing tariff quotas. Thus, for example, in the case of three products, the TARIC codes have been changed due to classification changes in the Combined Nomenclature. For two products, it is necessary to amend the product description for clarification purposes and in order to take into account the most recent product developments. In the case of five products, for the sake of economic operators in the EU, the quota volumes have been increased. However, in one case the quota volume has to be decreased. Moreover, in the case of two products, the autonomous tariff quota has had to be closed as from 1 January 2016 as it is  believed to be no longer in the EU’s interest to continue granting it.

The new Regulation notes that, due to the number of amendments to be made in the Annex to Regulation 1388/2013, and in the interests of clarity and rationality, that Annex has been entirely replaced by the Annex to the new Regulation.

Council Regulation 2015/2449, also published on 30 December 2015, suspends autonomous tariff duties for certain agricultural and industrial products. In doing so, it amends the framework Regulation 1387/2013, which suspends the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on several agricultural and industrial products.

The new Regulation states that it is in the interest of the EU to totally suspend the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on 110 products which are currently not listed in Annex I to Council Regulation 1387/2013. However, the Regulation further notes that it is no longer in the interest of the EU to maintain the suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on 41 products that have hitherto been listed in Annex I to Regulation 1387/2013. Those products are thus deleted from that Annex.

Moreover, it is now necessary to modify the product descriptions of 45 products, the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties of which have been suspended, currently listed in Annex I to Regulation 1387/2013 in order to take into account technical product developments and economic trends in the market, or to carry out linguistic adaptations. Moreover, in the light of changes in the Combined Nomenclature as of 1 January 2016, the CN codes for 22 products have had to be amended. It has also been necessary, in the interest of the EU’s economic operators, to amend the end date for the mandatory review of 148 products currently listed in Annex I to Regulation 1387/2013 in order to allow duty-free imports beyond that date. Thus, new revised dates have been set for their next mandatory review.

Products mentioned on the list annexed to new Regulation 2015/2449, which can be imported duty free, include the following. The Annex numbers more than 200 pages:

  • A large number of fruit and vegetable products, as well as chemicals,
  • Television pedestal stands,
  • Aluminium foil,
  • Devices for the manufacture of ink-jet printer cartridges,
  • Different kinds of batteries and accumulators,
  • Information screens for vehicles,
  • Loudspeakers,
  • Digital video recorders.

Since the amendments pursuant to Regulation 1341/2014 are scheduled to take effect from 1 January 2016, this Regulation has been made to apply from that date (except for one product).

For specific product descriptions, including CN codes, Hong Kong traders are advised to examine the annexes of each of the two new Regulations mentioned above.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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