Botswana takes steps to implement an advance ruling system for tariff classification and origin

27 February 2017

Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) hosted a WCO Revenue Package national Workshop from 20 to 23 February 2017 in Gaborone with the aim of preparing the Administration for the implementation of an advance ruling system for classification and origin, as required under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Before the opening of the Workshop, the Commissioner General of BURS, Mr. K. Morris, recalled that Botswana was one of the first countries that ratified the TFA and BURS was committed to take the necessary steps, including implementation of an advance ruling system, to fulfil its obligations.  He thanked the WCO Secretariat for the capacity building activities that were conducted in Botswana.

During the Workshop, the representatives of the WCO focused on the importance of a well-organised classification and origin infrastructure and well-defined and effective classification and origin practices before introducing the advance ruling system.

Presentations were made on the theoretical and practical understanding and implementation of new WCO materials developed under the WCO Revenue Package Phase II, such as the Guidelines on Customs Infrastructure for Tariff Classification, Origin and Valuation and the Technical Guidelines on Advance Rulings for Classification, Origin and Valuation.

Twenty-two senior and mid-level managers and experts on classification, origin and valuation  participated actively in the discussions and used the WCO Diagnostic Tool on Tariff Classification, Valuation and Origin Work and Related Infrastructure to assess the current situation and to identify areas for attention.  As a result, a number of action points in relation to an advance ruling system, such as amending the Customs and Excise Act, establishing procedures and guidelines for Customs and traders, improving the procedure for settlement of disputes, creation of a rulings database, providing capacity building and improving communication with economic operators, were proposed to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr. P.P. Valashia.  He agreed that several actions were required and emphasised that his Administration was fully committed and would ensure full support to the project.  He thanked the WCO for the support and noted that the Workshop had been well-timed since the required number of ratifications for the TFA to enter into force had been reached during the Workshop.

During the discussions, the participants also considered other measures that could improve the classification and origin infrastructure. Being Member of SACU (the South African Customs Union) it was suggested that creating a consultation forum with other SACU countries would improve the work at regional level.  The establishment of a customs laboratory at national level, a regional (SACU) laboratory, or using a private laboratory were also given attention.  Finally, more capacity building was also sought.

Botswana Unified Revenue Service has included the provisions for an advance ruling system in the upcoming revision of the Customs Act and the establishment of an advance ruling system for classification and origin in its upcoming Annual Plan and subsequently develop an action plan. The Secretariat will continue its support in this respect.