Governments plan delays on import tax collection

Tue 31 Mar 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

Governments around the world are considering or implementing delays for import tariff payments to keep key supplies moving during the fight against coronavirus.

In Europe, the European Commission has issued guidance on import duty deferment for specific products.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Trump administration is looking at postponing payments on some imported goods for a period of 90 days.

The Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director of stakeholder engagement, Kevin Shakespeare, said:

“Such measures are a recognition in these critical times that support is needed to keep essential goods moving towards the front line, which otherwise could be impacted by customs processes"

EU goods eligible for relief

The European Commission has today issued guidance on customs during the outbreak, including the following measures (in some circumstances):

  • waiver on traders requiring guarantees for specific customs procedures
  • the treatment of goods as temporary admissions with the deferment of import duty
  • a simplification of customs processes and in a few cases acceptance of transport / commercial documents to streamline trade procedures

Kevin Shakespeare, who is part of the IOE&IT’s delivery team for a series of masterclass webinars about customs issues during the outbreak, explains that:

  • These measures are only applicable to specific products and it is up to each customs authority in Europe to interpret and implement their own procedures.

  • This and other notices around Covid-19 re-enforce the importance of companies professionalising how they process their international trade transactions.

  • In the next few days, the IOE&IT shall be keeping members updated on developments and will provide further insight into how these EC guidelines are being interpreted. Please also look out for a webinar on this topic in the early part of next week.

US import tax proposal

Several US industry sectors are calling on President Trump to reduce levies on foreign metals and products from China.

A three-month postponement is planned, the Wall Street Journal reports, though at this point it is unclear which tariffs the delay could apply to.

Any deferment by the US government would signal a change in approach since an increase on tariffs on imports of Airbus planes into the US from the EU went into effect on March 18.

Calls for UK import tax deferment

In the UK, the IOE&IT has called for the government to include import VAT tax in the already announced Covid-19 deferment scheme.

IOE&IT director general, Marco Forgione, who is writing to the Chancellor on the matter, said:

“Deferring VAT payments will help with cash-flow and ensure that businesses, many of which are small-to-medium sized, will be able to continue operating.”