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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Inching closer to a new customs system

The final draft of the exec regs of the Customs Act’s is now in the hands of the State Council (Maglis El Dawla) for review and approval after they were redrafted to incorporate proposed amendments and requests from the last round of public consultations in April, Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement yesterday. The new regs detail how the Customs Authority’s new Advance Cargo Information (ACI) pre-registration system (also known as Nafeza) will work. They also outline instructions for businesses importing goods at ports on accessing and using the platform to file and pay all types of shipping dues, as well as filing shipping documents and cargo data digitally ahead of arrival.

The final draft also includes breaks for tourists and Egyptians returning from abroad, who will now be allowed to bring in EGP 10k worth of goods from abroad without customs duties, up from a previous limit of EGP 1.5k, according to the statement yesterday.

BACKGROUND- The recently-approved law, which aims to expedite customs clearance, expand the powers of customs clearance agents, and ratchet up penalties for customs evasion, has been met with pushback from exporters, shipping agencies and customs brokers since it came into effect late last year. Their grumblings led the Finance Ministry to make minor concessions to the exec regs twice in February and November, including on ins. Requirements.

We have a bulleted rundown on the new Customs Act here if you need to get up to speed.

Key highlights: The new draft would allow importers to pay customs in chunks over six-12 months, depending on how established their business is, and would cut inspection fees for larger containers to EGP 800 from EGP 1k for exports, and to EGP 200 from EGP 400 for imports. Shippers would also be allowed to move goods out of Egypt without submitting waybills on the spot and could instead hand over the documentation 48 hours after the goods leave the country. Importers will be required to pay 30% of dues in advance through the Nafeza digital customs system before cargo arrives at Egyptian ports and will be entitled to a refund in the event that their shipment is banned from entry or disposed of. You can read the regulations in full here (pdf).

Nafeza will officially come online on 1 October — a deadline by which anyone who has not registered on the digital platform won’t be allowed to release imported goods out of customs at seaports. Authorities have been piloting the new ACI system — a World Customs Organization (WCO) protocol that runs on blockchain technology, designed to speed up customs procedures and improve border security — since April, and had originally planned to make it compulsory at all seaports in July, before making it mandatory at other ports of entry at a later stage. Here’s a breakdown of all you need to know on how to prepare for the new ACI system.

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