Article 7.1: Pre-Arrival Processing
What is covered?
Pursuant to Article 7.1 of the TFA, WTO Members shall adopt or maintain procedures to allow the pre-arrival submission of the following Documents and information to enable authorities to process for release of goods on arrival:
- Import documentation
- Other required information pertaining to the trade transaction
The WCO Immediate Release Guidelines and International Convention on Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (the Revised Kyoto Convention or RKC) referred to pre-lodgment and pre-registration or checking of goods declaration and supporting documents prior to the arrival of the goods in Chapter 3 of the General Annex to address the traders’ need for early release.
Building on this provision, advisory in nature, the TFA requests Members, through a binding discipline, to maintain or make enabling provisions to allow the submission of documents, including manifests ,and other related information prior to the arrival of goods at the port of entry.
All Members are required to set up or keep in place – shall adopt or maintain – a mechanism whereby the traders can submit the documents and other required information pertaining to the import trade transactions ahead of arrival of the goods at the port of entry. The overall intent and purpose of this provision is to enable quicker release of goods.
Electronic advance lodging of documents
As customs clearance and release of goods can be further expedited through the electronic lodgement of data, this Measure of the TFA also calls WTO Members to set up a mechanism for the advance lodging of documents and information related to importation in an electronic format.
However, this mandatory provision is mitigated by the use of the words “as appropriate”, to induce some degrees of flexibility in the modalities of implementation. This means that – although WTO Members are in no way called to refrain from the implementation of the provision – some flexibility in the terms of implementation is grented. Hence, without prejudice to Article 7.1.2 – which states that the electronic format is the desired format for the advance submission of the documents and information pertaining to import – where countries do not have the required level of information technology capability, these may adopt other measures for the advance lodgement of the documents and information – which should not adversely impact the benefits of this Measure but positively contribute to achieving the overall goal of expediting clearances from the ports.
What is not covered?
Article 7.1 does not require WTO Members to necessarily establish a separate functional unit with a dedicated staff to handle pre-arrival processing. Therefore, Member countries are left free to decide, compatible with their needs, financial and human capacity, how to best predispose the processing of import documentation and other relevant information prior to the arrival of goods.
Moreover, the Measure does not affect in any way a Member's right to examine, seize, detain, confiscate or deal with goods in any manner, otherwise WTO consistent. Instead, Members retain this right to seize and confiscate the goods which are prohibited or not correctly declared.
Although not provided by the Measure, Members may also require additional import documents and data necessary or useful for the purpose of risk management.
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