Entering the era of the UCC
The Union Customs Code came into effect on 1 May 2016 with the slogan ‘simple, European, online’. New procedures and IT applications are needed to achieve harmonisation, standardisation and full electronic processing of all customs formalities in each Member State. First, REX was introduced at the beginning of this year, a brand new system of certification of origin of goods in the preferential arrangements. What does this mean for the business community?
Due to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) products from developing countries (so-called beneficiary countries) can be imported to the Union at a reduced or zero tariff rate. The existing certification system for this category of goods is based on a certificate of origin (Form A, issued by the competent authorities) and an invoice declaration. Since 1 January 2017, this system includes a new way of demonstrating a product’s origin. Businesses in GSP countries can register with the competent authorities to obtain the status of Registered Exporter, REX for short. After registering as a REX in the Union’s database the authorities no longer issue a Form A certificate; from then on the exporter concerned may make out a so-called ‘statement on origin’ and include it on his or her invoices. A statement on origin is valid for 12 months. Consequently importers benefit from preferential terms when importing products to the European Union. Businesses can consult the European Union’s database to find out whether an exporter is a REX.
Businesses in the European Union that export goods for processing or handling to GSP countries (bilateral cumulation), must register in the EU. This also applies to (storage) businesses that want to replace a certificate issued in a GSP country with the aim of transporting goods under customs control to a different location in the EU or to Switzerland or Norway. Dutch businesses can register with the Customs National Origin Team using a special form as of 1 January 2017. Registered businesses are ‘re-consignors’ and may make out replacement statements.
The term REX is also used to refer to the system of certification as a whole, not only to the system that is used to register exporters. The existing system’s transition to REX will be a gradual process and will be completed on 30 June 2020 at the latest. This transition period should give GSP beneficiary countries enough time to prepare. During a later stage the REX system will also be introduced to trade between the Union and overseas countries and territories (OCTs). And – if it is up to the Union – to bilateral free trade agreements.