WCO Support a Regional Approach on Advance Rulings for SACU

22 June 2017

The World Customs Organization (WCO) recently facilitated a Workshop on Advance Rulings for SACU Members.  The event was kindly hosted by the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA).  Participants attended from all five SACU countries, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.  The three day event, which took place between 12 and 14 June, focused on best practices for providing advance rulings on classification, origin and valuation.  This followed individual WCO Workshops conducted in 2015 and 2016 at the national level on this topic for Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Each SACU Member gave a presentation on the current status of implementing advance rulings systems at the national level.  Participants then discussed the main challenges to successful implementation of an advance rulings system.

Group discussions also took place on the merits of developing a regional approach on advance rulings, within SACU.  All participants saw a number of advantages in this, which could include, inter alia, alignment of procedures and exchange of information on advance rulings.

The Workshop included sessions on latest developments and decisions at both the Harmonized System Committee and Technical Committee on Customs Valuation.

Advance rulings on Customs matters are an important trade facilitation measure; they provide certainty for both the business operator and typically also results in fewer interventions by Customs at the time of importation.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (Article 3) places an obligation on WTO Members to issue advance rulings in respect of tariff classification and origin matters; furthermore, Members are encouraged to provide rulings on Customs valuation and other Customs procedures.