The role of customs in international trade is often assessed by economic operators. However, customs plays an important role here and this is confirmed by the figures. Customs operations in the EU account for about 16 % of world trade. They deal with estimated import and export volumes at more than EUR 3 400 billion each year. Every minute, on average, 4 200 tonnes of goods are imported or exported, more than 500 customs declarations are lodged, while some 70 counterfeit or pirated goods are seized.
The customs union celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018 and it is one of the pillars of the European Union, allowing the same customs duties to be applied to goods imported into their territory from the rest of the world and prohibiting all customs duties between them.
At present, customs have to facilitate trade and protect the financial interests of the European Union and its citizens, as well as their safety and security.
As provided for in the Union Customs Code, customs authorities are responsible for monitoring international trade, with the aim of ensuring open and balanced trade, as well as ensuring the security of the whole logistical chain. The role of the customs authorities is to protect the financial interests of the Union and its Member States, to protect the Union from unfair and illegal trade, while encouraging legitimate economic activities, to ensure the security and safety of the Union and its residents and to the protection of the environment, where appropriate in close cooperation with other authorities, and to maintain an appropriate balance between customs controls and the facilitation of legitimate trade.
In addition, the EU manages its trade relations with third countries through trade agreements, whose purpose is, inter alia, to reduce the cost of trade by eliminating customs duties and cutting red tape.
It is clear, therefore, that customs plays an increasingly important role in the supply chain and therefore has a role to play as a catalyst for the competitiveness of countries and businesses. The use of information and communication technologies is a key element in the simplification of trade and the effectiveness of customs controls.
The customs legislation consists of the customs code and the provisions supplementing it, but also the Common Customs Tariff, the legislation establishing a Union system of reliefs from customs duty and international agreements containing customs provisions. In practice, the EU’s customs union is managed on the ground by 28 national customs services acting as if they were only one and the European Commission proposes EU customs legislation and monitors its implementation.
The Union Customs Code, which has been applicable since 1 May 2016, has already undergone several amendments. The European Commission, as well as its Member States, have also published guidelines of certain standards, such as the definition of exporter, the sale for export as part of the customs value and the role of the customs representative mainly when the special schemes are used.
Businesses must be aware that good customs management of their import/export operations can enable them not only to comply with the legislation and thus to avoid a penalty, but also to reduce their costs. Customs legislation, if applied correctly and strategically, allows a significant reduction in the financial costs of a company. This is not only at the very moment when the goods are imported or exported, but also after their importation, for example by requesting a refund of the customs duties which prove to have been overpaid at the time of importation. Also, businesses that make e-commerce beyond the borders of the Union are in the process of understanding that the customs aspect must be treated as a priority in the context of their commercial strategy, by asking questions such as: how do I handle goods in return? how do you not pay the customs duties in the EU on the goods I will sell outside the EU? what is the transaction value of the goods I have to import? when using a customs warehouse? when I have to lodge a guarantee?
Answers on 28 January with the training for start-ups and SMEs on basic principles of customs
Mauro Giffoni Director Customs – Customs 4 TradeSource:Understanding the policies of the European Union — “The Customs Union of the European Union:protecting citizens and facilitating trade, European Commission 2014.
The United Kingdom submitted a request for withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017.