Article 10.6: Use of Customs Brokers
What is covered?
Article 10.6.1 of the TFA clearly states that – from the entry into force of TFA on 22 February 2017 – Members must not introduce the mandatory use of customs brokers in their national legislative framework. The use of “shall” without any attenuating language highlights the mandatory nature of this provision, which has to be implemented as contained in the TFA text. However, this requirement does not have a retroactive effect; therefore, Member States whose legislation on the use of customs brokers was issued prior to the entry into force of the TFA are allowed to keep it in place. The addition of this specification is meant not to compromise the special role that customs brokers hold in some Member countries due to significant policy concerns.
Publish and notify the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation about the use of customs brokers
This Measure additionally requests Members to publish and notify to the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation the measures regulating the use of customs brokers, as well any further modification occurring to such measures. In line with one the key principles enshrined in the Agreement, the intent of this provision is to bring relevant information on the use of the customs brokers into the public domain, with the aim of enhancing transparency and predictability for traders who need to collect this information.
Moreover, this Article requires Members to publish promptly any subsequent amendments to the measures governing the use of customs brokers, within a reasonable period of time, to ensure quick access to information for businesses.
Lastly, this Measure requires WTO Members to design objective and transparent rules with regard to the licensing of customs brokers. This provision aims at overcoming the weak regulatory regime supervising in many least developed countries, where legal instruments regulating the existence and use of customs brokers are either absent or not applied in full and consistent manner.
What is not covered?
The Measure does not require the elimination of the customs broker profession altogether. Instead, it implies that the use of customs brokers can be optional.
The Measure does not determine the criteria for the licensing of customs brokers either; however, it requires that these rules be transparently and objectively formulated in order to avoid any misuse or abuse.
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