Customs Valuation Agreement: special consideration to requests by LDCs

The WTO Customs Valuation Agreement aims to establish a fair, uniform and neutral system for the valuation of goods for customs purposes. The special and differential (SDT) provisions refer to extensions of implementation periods, reservations to maintain a system of minimum values,  and technical assistance. They are contained in Article 20 and Annex III of the Agreement, which do not specifically refer to LDCs.

The 2001 Doha Ministerial Decision on Implementation-related Issues and Concerns urged the Council for Trade in Goods to give positive consideration to requests that may be made by LDC members under paragraphs 1 & 2 of Annex III of the Customs Valuation Agreement. Between 2000 and 2006, the WTO Secretariat kept a record of the notification and reporting requirements of the Members that had been granted extensions of the delay for the application of the Agreement or reservations to maintain a system of minimum values. By 2006, all such extensions and reservations had expired.

The Doha Ministerial Decision on Implementation-related Issues and Concerns also urges, in connection with the Customs Valuation Agreement, the Council for Trade in Goods to give positive consideration to requests made by LDC members under Article IX.3 of the WTO Agreement and to take into consideration the particular circumstances of LDCs when setting the terms & conditions including time-frames. Article IX.3 of the WTO Agreement provides that in exceptional circumstances, the Ministerial Conference may decide to waive an obligation imposed on a Member by the WTO Agreement and certain other multilateral trade agreements, provided that any such decision shall be taken by three-fourths of the Members.


Utilization by LDCs:

LDCs reported the following reasons for being unable to fully utilize SDT provisions in the Agreement on Customs Valuation:

  • Officials were unaware that extensions could be sought (The Gambia);
  • Capacity problems & lack of expertise (Malawi);
  • Poor knowledge of the WTO Agreements & the fact that the customs authority does not implement the Customs Valuation Agreement in full (Mozambique);
  • Lack of information, weak human-resource base & absence of coordination at the national level (Mali and Guinea);
  • Absence of technical assistance at the time of acceptance of the Agreement, so country was unaware of the possibility of formulating reservations (Democratic Republic of Congo);
  • Customs reforms have been based on developments in the World Customs Union rather than the flexibilities provided for under the Customs Valuation Agreement given the urgent need to improve the business climate (Uganda);
  • Lesotho explained it had not used the SDT provisions because it was already implementing what was stipulated under GATT 1947 &, when it acceded to the WTO, it continued to implement the Customs Valuation Agreement provisions.

Resources:

  1. WTO Legal Texts
  2. WTO Committee on Customs Valuation, “Notifications and Reporting Requirements for Developing Country Members in Accordance with Decisions Adopted by the Committee Pursuant to Paragraphs 1 or 2 of Annex III of the Agreement, Note by the Secretariat“, G/VAL/W/76/Add.11, 10 April 2006.
  3. Twenty-Third Annual Review of the implementation and operation of the agreement on implementation of article VII of the General Agreement on tariffs and trade 1994 (G/L/1198), 8 November 2017
  4. WTO Customs Valuation Gateway