WCO mission to Zimbabwe to support implementation of an advance ruling system

07 febrero 2019

A WCO Revenue Package national Workshop on the development of an Advance Ruling System for Classification, funded by the Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) Finland, under the WCO-Finland ESA project II, was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 28 January to 1 February 2019.  Eighteen mid-to-high-level technical officers and managers of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) participated in the Workshop, which was facilitated by an expert from the WCO Secretariat, a pre-accredited expert on the HS from the Uganda Revenue Authority and an external HS expert from the Netherlands.

The Workshop examined means of enhancing Zimbabwe Customs’ capacity to carry out classification work in an efficient manner and developing an advance ruling system in compliance with the requirements under Article 3 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa, opened the Workshop and thanked the WCO Secretariat for the programme.  He pointed out that while Zimbabwe had ratified the WTO TFA, the provision of advance rulings was categorized as one of the measures for which Zimbabwe had indicated that it needed additional time and capacity building support to implement.

The experts also met with the ZIMRA Commissioner General, Ms Faith Mazani, who thanked the WCO for its continued support.  She said that Zimbabwe supported by the IMF was implementing a new strategic plan with two focal areas of stakeholder engagement and support to all TFA initiatives like Single Window and Authorised Economic Operator.  She noted that advance ruling was key in developing corporate compliance, strengthening Customs audit and improving classification, valuation and origin infrastructure.  She further noted ZIMRA’s focus on training to improve peer to peer support or learning sighting RTC Zimbabwe as the centre of excellence for the Revenue Package in the ESA region.

During the intensive five-day Workshop the participants reviewed the Zimbabwe Customs situation and performance in the area of tariff classification and advance tariff rulings using the WCO Diagnostic Tool on Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin Work and Related Infrastructure.

An action plan was drawn up at the end of the Workshop comprising a series of action points in relation to the existing advance tax ruling procedure, such as recommendations for amending the legislative framework, procedures, record keeping and setting up a classification unit.  Also, the need for a rulings database was identified.  Compliance management, the procedure for dispute settlement and capacity building for ZIMRA staff, traders and Customs brokers were also considered.