On 26 December 2016 members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) approved and signed the new Customs Code (EAEU Customs Code). There is only one exception – the Customs Code has not yet been signed by Belarus.
With that, the EAEU Customs Code will come into force after it has been signed by Belarus and ratified by all member states of the EAEU. The document is expected to come into force not earlier than 1 July 2017.
The EAEU Customs Code counts over 1,000 pages, and it is designed to systematize and codify over 20 international treaties of the EAEU in the sphere of international trade, including on customs valuation, rules of origin, customs clearance of goods delivered via international mail, etc. After the adoption of the EAEU Customs Code the above mentioned international treaties of the EAEU would be repealed. The EAEU Customs Code is aimed at making customs operations more transparent and provides instruments that would facilitate interaction between businesses and state authorities by reducing paperwork and direct contact with customs officials. The main changes introduced by the EAEU Customs Code (in comparison with the currently effective Customs Union Customs Code) include the following:
- Simplification of customs procedures, including:
- release for internal consumption customs procedure (i.e., the standard import customs regime): special provisions on application of the procedure to the products of processing that were imported to the EAEU territory under the inward customs processing procedure and re-exported outside of the EAEU territory (subject to certain conditions);
- temporary import customs procedure: the right to use temporarily imported goods on the whole territory of the EAEU without payment of customs duties and taxes;
- customs procedures of inward and outward processing: revised list of processing operations which includes modernization of goods;
- customs warehouse customs procedure: special provisions for goods in unassembled or disassembled conditions, more detailed provisions on the application customs payments.
- The legal status of the importer of record (i.e.,””declarant”) has been revisited with respect to foreign legal entities and their local branches and representative offices, allowing them to use various customs procedures that so far have not been practically applied within the EAEU (for example, the customs procedure of customs warehouse);
- The EAEU Customs Code introduces new measures targeted on simplification of customs clearance formalities, including the following:
- The automatic release of goods with the use of information systems of the customs authorities and excluding any direct interactions between the importers of record and the customs officers;
- The customs clearance mechanism named “single window” (i.e., the importers of record should not provide once again any documents or information for customs clearance purposes, when relevant copies thereof already are available in the electronic customs database of the EAEU);
- The statutory terms of performing certain customs clearance have been significantly reduced, that would allow the importers to complete customs clearance formalities faster (e.g., 4 hours for general import clearance instead of 24 hours presently in effect, etc.);
- A possibility to defer payment of import customs duties and taxes (subject to certain conditions).
- The legal status of authorized economic operator (AEO) is significantly modified. The EAEU Customs Code establishes three categories of AEO differentiated by specific qualification criteria, requirements and certain specific simplifications in the sphere of customs clearance. Under the new regulations the AEOs will become entitled to apply a wider scope of simplifications, including: (i) priority in performing certain customs operations, (ii) release from the obligation to provide security of customs payments, or a possibility to provide such security in a lower amount subject to certain conditions, (iii) priority for participation in various pilot projects performed by customs authorities, (iv) assignment of a lower risk score in the customs risk management system, and (v) the right of distant clearance – i.e. ability to clear the goods with clearing customs posts located in other regions of the same EAEU member state than the region where the goods are actually imported/located, etc.
The EAEU Customs Code contains a large amount of references to customs regulations of the EAEU and national legislation of the EAEU member states, which would respectively require adoption of a large number of relevant implementing regulations.