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Monday, 28 May 2018

Preferential “white list,” new tariffs on tourism, new penalties and more in Customs Act

EXCLUSIVE- Preferential “white list,” clampdown on tour agency car rentals, new penalties and more in Customs Act: The latest draft of the Customs Act will include a host of measures that facilitate the flow of goods through Egypt’s ports while also introducing new tariffs for the tourism sector and penalties for violators, sources tell Enterprise. We’ve also received confirmation that a number of recently announced changes to the act are in place, including slashing customs duties on capital goods to 2% from a current 5% and expanding temporary exemptions for production inputs and packaging equipment. Highlights of law, which is currently with the Finance Ministry for review, include:

  • Sometimes, common sense wins: The Customs Authority will establish a “white list” of importers who will benefit from expedited clearance of goods. Companies on the list will be able to clear their goods without initially undergoing full procedures. An inspection of their warehouses and their documentation will be conducted later. Importers “in good standing” who have been abiding by the rules will be eligible for entry on the list.
  • No more gaming the system: The amendments propose a new tariff structure for vehicles imported by tour operators, hotels and resorts. Tariffs on cars and vans imported by industry players will double to 10% for vehicles with a price tag of under EGP 500k. Cars over that level will pay 10% for EGP 500k of the price tag, while the remainder of the value will be subject to a levy of 40-135% based on engine size. Tour buses will continue to be taxed at their current level of 5%.
  • A limit will also be imposed on the number of vehicles a tourism operator can import. The Tourism Ministry will determine the allocation for company based on its size.
  • In other words: Say goodbye to the racket of importing vehicles nearly customs-free and then renting them out as personal automobiles with discrete stickers applied.
  • The amendments will see the introduction of installment payments on import duties.
  • Penalties will be amended. Smuggling of banned goods could see prison sentences of up to five years. Customs evaders can choose between time in prison or paying fines of double the import bill.
  • Signing off on temporary exemptions will be the sole purview of the Customs Authority. Prior to the amendments, various ministries could issue temporary exemptions.
  • We’ve heard this before: The Customs Authority will establish a single platform for importers to obtain and submit all their documents. The authority will also establish a importer services department.

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