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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

FinMin releases final draft of the Customs Act

** #2 LEGISLATION WATCH- FinMin releases final draft of the Customs Act: The Finance Ministry has released the final draft of the amended Customs Act on Tuesday after consultations with business groups and global financial institutions, according to a ministry statement. The ministry plans to introduce the act to the House of Representatives during the current legislative cycle, but the statement did not note when. The ministry says the bill would bring customs legislation in line with international agreements and raise Egypt’s ranking in a number of global indices, including the World Bank’s Doing Business report. You can read the latest draft of the bill here (pdf) on the Finance Ministry website.

Expedited clearance and facilitating payments: Among the most significant measures are those designed to speed goods through Egypt’s ports, include setting up an expedited track for the clearance of goods, the statement says, without delving into the mechanics of the new system. Government sources had told us back in May that the law would set up “a white list” of importers. Companies on the list will be able to clear their goods without initially undergoing full procedures. An inspection of their warehouses and their documentation would be conducted later. The proposed bill would also, for the first time, allow importers to pay duties in installments, the statement said.

Law expands Customs Authority’s powers: One of the key aims of the law is to increase the supervisory and enforcement powers of the Customs Authority, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said. The bill would grant the authority expanded powers to seize the goods of suspected customs evaders and the right to track goods and shipping containers from ports of origin. The law will also grant the authority powers the sole power to sign off on temporary customs exemptions, which were expanded earlier this year to include production inputs, said Maait.

Customs Authority approval for econ zone licenses: Licensing for a project in a special economic zone or a freezone will require signoff from the Customs Authority and the General Authority for Freezones and Investments must seek its approval before issuing a license, according to our preliminary reading of the law.

Background: Other changes we’ve been told to look for include a new tariff structure for vehicles imported by tour operators, hotels and resorts and the toughening of penalties for customs dodgers.

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