EU announces customs code to increase trade

A new customs code for the European Union will result in a Ђ50-billion (US$ 60-billion) increase in trade each year by speeding up imports and exports and reducing costs, the European Commission said Wednesday.

The new code will also help the fight counterfeit goods by increasing communication among European customs authorities, the commission said.

Until now, each member state has had its own procedure for recording customs information. Each requires different types of information.

The new code will install a new electronic system connecting the 25 different EU customs agencies. Businesses will move their goods within the EU by lodging information for customs, police, border guards, veterinary and environmental agencies only once at the first member state. All checks on the goods will be carried out at the same place and at the same time.

The information will then be forwarded on to the customs office in the member state where the goods are going. Companies will be able to bring their goods directly to the point of sale.

Since companies will declare goods electronically, the process will be cheap and quick, Laszlo Kovacs, the European Taxation and Customs Commissioner said. "There will be better cooperation between customs and businesses," he added.

The code will cost between Ђ80 million and Ђ100 million (US$ 96-120 million) to implement. The Commission and the member states will share this cost.

European governments and the European Parliament must approve the measures before they can come into force. Kovacs said he hoped this would happen by 2009 and the new code would be operational by 2012.

Business approved of the move. Carlos Gonzalez-Finat of the European industry organization UNICE said the new code would allow companies to cut costs and move goods fast, AP reported. V.A.

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