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WTO Seminar on Technical Assistance in Customs Valuation Developing capacity building in the area of customs valuation - a perspective from the Commonwealth Secretariat Presented by Angela Strachan Chief Programme Officer Special Advisory Services Division Commonwealth Secretariat

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WTO Seminar on Technical Assistance in Customs Valuation

Developing capacity building in the area of customs valuation

- a perspective from the Commonwealth Secretariat

Presented by

Angela Strachan

Chief Programme Officer

Special Advisory Services Division

Commonwealth Secretariat

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Trade and Commonwealth States

  • The Commonwealth:

    • 54 countries

    • 30% of the world ’s population

    • 32 small states

    • 14 LDCs

    • 23% of world trade

    • 40% of WTO membership

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Trade and Commonwealth States


  • Goals:

    • To assist developing countries to protect their interests and benefit from trade, investment and new information technology

    • To provide practical assistance that supports their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals

    • To promote international attention to and provide support for the special needs of small states

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Trade and Commonwealth States

  • Assistance to:

    • Develop and implement trade policy capacity

    • Promote regional integration

    • Expand enterprise development

    • Implement emerging priority areas for the Commonwealth

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ACV Implementation concerns

  • Economic, political and infrastructural challenges:

    • High turnover of customs personnel in some administrations

    • Fear of loss of Customs revenue since imported duties and related taxes still represent a significant % of total revenue in most countries

    • Political instability

    • Informal trade

    • Presence of PSI companies

    • Insufficient political will

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Trade Capacity BuildingCustoms Valuation

  • CFTC/WTO sponsored Training programmes to better understand Article V11 of the GATT and to better implement spirit of the Agreement (ACV)

  • Accomplishments to date

    2000 and 2001

    • ACV training programme done for 33 countries from Africa, Asia,Pacific and the Caribbean


    • 34 customs officials from English speaking Africa will take part in 2 week training course in South Africa (11-22, Nov)


    • French instructed Course designed for Francophone African countries (possible venue- Mauritius)

  • Training programmes are unique: combination of lectures, case studies,group work and on-the-job training

  • Plus Handbook on Frequently Asked Questions on Customs Valuation

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    Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica,Kiribati,Tonga,Tuvalu,

    Solomon Islands,Vanuatu,

    Samoa,Maldives, Tanzania

    Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana,Nigeria, Maldives, Brunei Darussalam,

    Fiji, Papua New Guinea

    Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Mozambique, Botswana


    Philippines,Laos, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal *

    (N.B. Non-Commonwealth funded by WTO)

    Mauritius, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland,Lesotho,Namibia

    Malawi, Seychelles,Zimbabwe

    Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt,


    Project Partners:

    WTO, WCO,

    plus Host country

    Revenue Authority/Customs Administration

    -India (2000, 2001)

    -South Africa (2002)


    Customs Valuation Trainingbeneficiary countries 2000 - 2002

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    ACV Implementation concerns

    • High levels of tariff encourage undervaluation and other valuation fraud

    • Commonwealth developing countries rely heavily on revenue from customs duties

      Avg. 30 -60 percent of Govt. Revenue

    • More time required to develop infrastructure including:

      • legislation

      • human resources

      • administrative procedures

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    ACV Implementation concerns

    • Core capacity building needs:

      • Design and adopt model customs legislation

      • Establish Valuation Divisions

      • Design and deliver public education programmes

      • Develop training material incl.procedures manuals

      • Acquire or update computer systems

      • Develop declaration forms

      • Develop valuation databases

      • Develop and implement appeals mechanisms

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    ACV Implementation concerns

    Computed value method presents some difficulty because of inability to get:

    • Information :

      • On cost of production in developed countries

      • Other elements of cost

    • Other Issues such as:

      - Distance from manufacturing locations

      • Confidentiality regarding commercial costing

      • Insufficient confidence in levels/type of mutual assistance provided by customs administrations in developed countries

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    ACV Technical Assistance Best Practices

    • Modality for training programmes

      • practical courses required

    • Target group for training need to be senior officials

    • Sustainability of assistance is an issue

    • South -south assistance is desirable in many cases

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    ACV technical assistance needs to enhance WTO compliance

    • In depth training on the ACV

    • Attachments to suitable administrations of comparable size and effective competence based on applying the Agreement

    • Assistance to develop the machinery for appeals as provided for in legislation

    • Introduction of computerisation and databases in Valuation Divisions - essential to facilitate administration of the identical value method, similar value method and deductive value method

    • Assistance with developing and administering an ACV implementation plan and work programme

    • Assistance with developing funding briefs for donors

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    Notes for Consideration

    • Problems universal but solutions local - so each country encouraged to develop recommendations to solve its own constraints

    • Further CFTC technical assistance possible particularly where other donors have an interest.