October 23, 2019

On Thursday, 17 October 2019 the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) held an urgent meeting with the Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Owen Holder, retailers and distributors to discuss and bring clarity to the anomalies which have resulted in the upgrade to the tariff HS 2017.

Below are responses to issues raised:

Review of the Tariff: Anomalies

ISSUE #1: As a result of the changeover to Tariff HS 2017, retailers and distributors have been impacted by increased duties on some items. Why are there high duties on these items and why were importers not given notice of these changes?

Comptroller’s Response: (a) During the years 2002 and 2007 a hybrid tariff was in effect with periodical adjustments made at budget presentations. However, these changes could not be enforced because the requisite regulations were never enacted. The HS 2017 resulted in several tariff numbers being discontinued and new numbers added.

(b) Due to the dynamic nature of the HS2017 tariff, a number of products were affected by
increased duties. The pro-active approach by the BCCI and other stakeholders enabled the Department to understand the gravity of the situation and this has been drawn to the attention of the Ministry of Finance. As a consequence, the duty rates will revert to forty per cent (40%) for juices. The Prime Minister has clarified that the intent was not to increase the bound rate so that it was burdensome on distributors as well as affect the basket of goods for Barbadians.

(c) Importers are asked to submit all discoveries as well as those items now attracting VAT such as sardines, salt fish, mackerel etc. to the BCCI for a comprehensive list to be compiled and submitted to the CED. Formal discussions will take place with the Prime Minister upon receipt of the list of anomalies from the BCCI. The list will also be provided to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for review and consideration.

Tax Structure on Motor Vehicles

ISSUE #2: Is there a waiver for motor vehicles?

Comptroller’s Response: The rebate given on motor cars was 15 units percentage points and not 15% on excise tax. Importers did not require a waiver as the adjustment had already been made in the system to apply across the board. The treatment of electric cars was different in that the duty is now 30% plus a rebate.

Duty on Products imported from Countries with Trade Agreement

ISSUE #3: What are the duties for items which fall under a trade agreement?

Comptroller’s Response: Adjustment to the duty on imports (ice cream and biodegradable products) from countries (e.g Dominica Republic) with existing trade agreements would be easily expedited, once said products meet the necessary requirements such as the Rule of Origin, etc.

Trusted Traders Programme

Comptroller’s Response: Implementation of the Trusted Traders Programme is significant since it will advance the green lane, moving from pre-clearance to post clearance. Ideally, this will expedite trade facilitation as the sector will derive benefit from being compliant. The programme is to be rolled out by mid-November.

Other Important Information from the CED

A gentle reminder to all carrier agents that they are to grant agent release to their customers who are eligible for the traditional “Delivery Order”.

As a result of the series of training sessions and communication with the agents, UNCTAD has deployed changes in relation to the manifest (e.g. dangerous goods, automatic population of container details etc.) on the training server and is, therefore, inviting you to test these new features and provide us with feedback.

As part of direct assistance provided to the business community and in the absence of a ‘Customs Hotline’ the Comptroller agreed that members could use his email [email protected] to escalate any challenges which they were unable to resolve via the system.

Please note that while the BCCI will continue to provide support to our members, the CED remains the final authority on all matters relating to the roll-out of ASYCUDA World. Please contact the AW Project Office at Tel: 535-8720; 535- 8721; 535-8722; 535-8723 or via email: [email protected] for further clarification on the matters outlined above.