14 July 2017
EU Creates Trading Opportunities by Increasing Quotas, Eliminating Customs Duties for Certain Industrial and Agricultural Imports
On 27 June 2017, the EU’s Official Journal published Council Regulation 2017/1133 amending Regulation 1388/2013 opening and providing for the management of autonomous tariff quotas of the EU for certain agricultural and industrial products. The latter-mentioned Regulation from 2013, which is applied uniformly throughout the European Union, was adopted so as to ensure the sufficient and uninterrupted supply of certain goods that are insufficiently produced in the EU, and so as to avoid any disturbances on the market for those goods.
Products within the set tariff quotas can be imported into the Union at reduced or zero duty rates. The new Regulation states that it is felt necessary to open, with effect from 1 July 2017, tariff quotas at zero duty rates for an appropriate volume as regards seven new products.
In the case of five additional products, the tariff quota volumes are to be increased, as this increase is in the interest of economic operators and of the EU. Moreover, for one product the increase in tariff quota volume should only apply to the second half of the year 2017, while the actual tariff quota for that product should be given an end date of 31 December 2017.
Hong Kong sellers may be especially interested to know that, among the several products benefiting from a ‘0’ duty for the respective quotas mentioned in the annexes to new Council Regulation 2017/1133, the following are listed:
- Aluminium telescopic handle for use in the manufacture of luggage;
- Bicycle frame, constructed from carbon fibres and artificial resin, painted, lacquered and/or polished, for use in the manufacture of bicycles;
- Bicycle front fork, constructed from carbon fibres and artificial resin, painted, lacquered and/or polished, for use in the manufacture of bicycles.
Also on 27 June 2017, the Official Journal published Council Regulation 2017/1134 amending Regulation 1387/2013 suspending the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on certain agricultural and industrial products. Hong Kong sellers may recall that the latter Regulation, from 2013, has exempted numerous products from customs duties, thereby increasing trading opportunities for non-EU producers of such products selling to EU customers. The list of products benefiting from a ‘0’ duty is regularly updated, as has happened most recently by the publication of Council Regulation 2017/1134.
Regulation 2017/1134 states that the EU production of 69 agricultural and industrial products that are not listed in the Annex to Council Regulation 1387/2013 is inadequate or non-existent. It is, therefore, in the interest of the EU to completely suspend the autonomous Common Customs Tariff (‘CCT’) duties on those products.
It is furthermore necessary to modify the conditions for 71 suspensions of autonomous CCT duties currently listed in the Annex to Regulation 1387/2013 in order to take into account technical product developments and economic trends on the market. Also, certain product classifications have been amended to allow the industry to fully benefit from the suspensions in force. Moreover, the Annex to Regulation 1387/2013 needs to be updated due to the need to align or clarify texts in some cases. The modified conditions relate to changes in the product description, classification or end-use requirements. The suspensions that require modifications will be deleted from the list of suspensions in the Annex to Regulation 1387/2013, and the modified suspensions will be inserted into that list. The new Regulation also states that it is no longer in the interest of the EU to maintain the suspension of autonomous CCT duties for two of the products that are currently listed in the Annex to Regulation 1387/2013. In the interests of clarity, the entries modified by new Regulation 2017/1134 are marked with an asterisk.
Among those products mentioned in the annex to new Regulation 2017/1134 are the following:
- Certain types of aluminium foil in rolls;
- A variety of keypads of silicone or plastic;
- An audio power amplifier of a certain type;
- LCD modules and colour LCD display panels for LCD monitors, of different types;
- A touch sensitive screen panel;
- Passenger airbags with certain dimensions.
Hong Kong sellers are advised to examine both new publications carefully, so as to see how they might benefit from the quota volumes and/or exempted duties in respect of the products mentioned in the two Regulations’ annexes. Each product description includes a CN code, for ease of reference.
Finally, it is stated in both the new Regulations published on 27 June 2017 that the changes regarding the tariff quotas and the CCT duties for the products listed in each of the Regulations have to apply from 1 July 2017. Therefore, both Regulations have entered into force as a matter of urgency, on the same date as their publication.