Some Customs Control Issues

Infringing Goods

Goods which infringe intellectual property may not be imported into the EU, released for free circulation, exported, re-exported or placed in a suspensive arrangement. An application can be made to the customs authority for the detection and destruction of goods infringing intellectual property.  The legislation applies to counterfeit and pirated goods, breaches of industrial designs, copyright, trademarks, designations of origin, plant varieties and geographical indications.

The rights holder may lodge a written application with the customs authority. It must contain details of the goods, information concerning the nature of the infringement and details of a contact person.

It the customs authority suspects infringement of intellectual property rights, the goods may be suspended, during which time the rights holder may submit an application for action. There is a time limit during which the application must take place.

Quantitative Restrictions / Quotas

The general principle is that exports from the EU to outside the EU are not subject to quantitative restrictions or quotas.  EU states may adopt protective measures in response to unusual developments in the market. Protective measures may be imposed due to shortages of essential + must first advise and consult the EU Commission.

The EU Commission, acting on the request of an EU state may make exports subject to authorisation. This may be limited to exports from certain parts of the EU or exports to a particular country.  The Council, acting by qualified majority may adopt measures for a period.

EU states retain the power to adopt restrictions on the on the basis of public policy, morality, security and the protection of health and welfare, animal and plants, protection of national treasures and protection of industrial and commercial property.

Tariff Preferences for Developing Countries

The EU scheme of tariff preferences for certain less developed countries provides a general arrangement for all beneficiary countries and special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance. re special arrangements.

Under the general arrangements, most products which are not sensitive are not subject to duty at all. The exemption does not apply to the agricultural element.  In relation to sensitive products, a tariff reduction may be applied.

Special incentive arrangements may be afforded to qualifying countries which have implemented human rights, labour rights, environmental and good governance standards. They must accept implementation and monitoring. In these cases, the duties are removed on certain specified products. Third countries may apply to the EU2 Commission for this treatment.

Tariff Preferences for Developing Countries II

The special arrangements for the least developed countries are granted to the list of LDCs published by the UN. There is a reduction of duties on most products, except military items. Many categories of goods are subject to a very substantial reduction.

The preferential arrangements may be withdrawn temporarily in the case of violations of human and labour rights, shortcomings in custom controls. unfair trading practices, fraud, irregularities and failures to comply with rules in relation to product origin

The EU reserves the right to reintroduce customs if it is likely to cause difficulties to EU producers.

CITES Conventions

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora or fauna. There are four categories of endangered species.

Endangered species may not be introduced into the EU without an import permit issued by the authority of the state of destination. Checks are required.The export or re-export of specimens of wild endangered species are subject to production of an export certificate.

The CITES Convention provides controls on the importation of endangered wildlife, fauna and flora. The rules apply to imports and exports. The importation of endangered species is subject to the issue of an import permit by the requisite authority and compliance with conditions.

Trade in certain specimens is prohibited. The movement of certain specimens is subject to prior authorisation from the requisite authority in the member state, which may be permitted, subject to applicable rules

Customs authorities undertake checks and formalities to verify compliance. There is a system of exchange of information between the state parties for the purpose of the implementation of the convention.

Special Surveillance and Investigation

Subsidies are financial contributions made by non-EU governments, conferring benefits on exporters. The EU may impose countervailing duties for the purpose of offsetting subsidies granted by non-EU authorities, where the release into free circulation within the EU, may cause damage or injury. A countervailing measure may be specific to an industry or enterprise. The countervailing duty is calculated with reference to the benefit conferred by the subsidy.

EU countries may inform the Commission if an import trend requires surveillance or safeguarding measures. Where there is evidence to justify an investigation, the Commission investigates the volume of imports, prices and the impact on EU producers.

If there is a likelihood of serious injury to EU producers, the Commission may impose surveillance or safeguard measures. They may apply to certain categories of goods They may be required to produce further import documentation.

Dumping of Products

A product may be considered to be dumped if its export price to the EU is less than the price for a comparable product in the exporting country.  If there is no comparable product or if the sale is from a non-market economy country, the prices are determined on other bases.

The dumping margin as the difference between the export price and the normal value. Adjustments are made in relation to differences in market conditions, taxation and other factors affecting price comparability.

The complaint is examined by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the EU countries and the Commission. Where there is sufficient evidence, an investigation is carried out. Interested parties are consulted, and various views are presented. A decision may be made as to the imposition of anti-dumping duties. If protective measures are considered unnecessary, the proceedings are terminated.

Anti-Dumping Duty / Countervailing Measure

A levy may be imposed, only if the “dumping” it affects and injures EU producers. There must be evidence of this occurring. An inquiry is undertaken into alleged dumping. Its impact on the industry concerned is assessed. The proceedings are instituted on the basis of a claim by a business or business associations.

The duty may not exceed the dumping margin and should be only that required to remove the injury. The duty must be applied on a non-discriminatory basis. Anti-dumping measures may not be applied if they are not in the EU interests. This includes the interests of industry users and consumers.

Duties last for five years and are subject to review. Anti-dumping duties may be refunded where it can be shown that the dumping margin has been eliminated or reduced.

Export of Cultural Goods

An export licence is required when cultural goods are exported outside the EU.  An export licence is valid throughout the EU. The licence may be refused on the basis of that the articles are protected by national legislation in relation to historical, archaeological and artistic goods. National customs authorities must co-operate.

Export of Cash

Persons carrying cash in excess of €10,000 must declare it to the competent authorities. A full correct and valid declaration is required. The declaration must give full details of the owner of the money, the intended recipient and use.

This requirement applies under the anti-money-laundering legislation. The information received may be communicated to other countries including those subject to legal obligations.  Professional secrecy will apply to confidential information. The customs authorities may check compliance with the obligation to declare. In the event of failure to declare the cash may be detained. There are penalties applicable in the event of failure is to comply.

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