Article 7.8: Expedited Shipments
What is covered?
This Measure requires that Members shall adopt or maintain procedures to allow the expedited release of at least goods entered through air cargo for those persons who apply for such treatment, while maintaining customs control. The use of the word “shall” with no qualifying language means that all Members have the obligation to implement this provision without any flexibility.
It is noticeable that in Article 8.1 the obligation is confined to goods entered through air cargo facilities. However, Members may extend the measure to cargo imported through land or sea.
Qualifying criteria to apply for expedited shipments
The Measure also sets out the scenario in which Members may employ limiting criteria for those persons who apply for this preferential treatment. With the use of the auxiliary verb “may” the Measure opens up the possibility for Members to require applicant persons, through published criteria, to meet certain conditions. In particular, Members may require that applicants who wish to apply to this special treatment must comply with the following conditions listed in paragraph 8.1:
- In cases where the process of expedited shipments is performed at a dedicated facility, the provision of adequate infrastructure and cost of customs expenses related to the shipment processing must be borne by the applicant;
- The applicants must provide prior to the arrival of the expedite shipment all the information necessary for release of the goods;
- The applicants must be imposed fees commensurate to the rendered services connected with the processing of expedited shipments;
- A thorough and strict control over expedited shipments must be maintained by the applicants through the use and monitoring of internal security, logistics and tracking technology from the pick-up;
- The applicants must provide for expedited shipments from pick-up to delivery;
- The applicants must be liable for the payment of all customs duties, taxes, fees and charges to the customs authority;
- The persons applying for expedited shipments must maintain a good record of compliance with customs and other related laws and regulations;
- The applicants must be compliant with other conditions directly connected with the enforcement of the Member’s laws, regulations and procedural requirements that relate to the processing of expedited shipments.
List of facilitative procedures for qualifying applicants
Upon the condition that provisions in paragraph 8.1 and 8.3 are met, paragraph 8.2 lists the facilitative procedures that Members must set up for the processing of expedited shipments. In particular, Members are required to:
- Minimize the documentation required for the release of expedited shipments and – to the extent possible – enable the release of goods based on a single submission of information on certain shipments. The use of the expression “to the extent possible” allows for a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to implementing the provision concerning the single submission of information;
- Release the expedited shipments as quickly as possible after arrival, conditional upon the prior submission of information required for release;
- Make efforts to minimize documentation and quickly release shipments of any weight or value. The use of the expression “shall endeavour” implies that Members are only obliged to undertake certain steps towards this objective, but are not mandatorily compelled to achieve the actual implementation of the stated provision;
- Provide – to the extent possible – for a de minimis shipment value or dutiable amount for which customs duties and taxes will not be collected. Also in this case, the use of the expression “to the extent possible” implies that Members are allowed certain degrees of flexibility when implementing this provision on the basis of their national implementing capacity. However, it is clarified that internal taxes, like VAT and excise taxes, applied to imports consistently with Article III of GATT 1994 are not subject to the application of this provision.
Rights of the Members
With the expression “nothing shall affect the right of a Member” the last paragraph of Article 7.8 8.3 specifies that Members still retain their legitimate right to examine, detain, seize, confiscate or refuse entry to any goods when deemed necessary. Likewise, Members also retain their right to carry out post-clearance audits and any procedures pertaining to the risk management system.
Furthermore, with the expression “nothing shall prevent a Member from requiring” Members retain their right to require the submission of additional information and the fulfilment of non-automatic licensing requirements as a condition for release.
What is not covered?
The Measure does not prescribe in any detail the procedures for the application of this provision. Hence each country can determine its set of procedures and criteria that apply to expedited shipments for as long as these are compliant with the guidance provided in this Article.
Also, the Measure does not mention how payments of duties, taxes, fees and charges will be made with respect to the consignments that qualify for this treatment. Hence it is left to WTO Members to adopt a least discriminatory system for the payment of dues in a WTO-consistent manner.
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