CUSTOMS TARIFF TO BE BROUGHT IN LINE WITH EU REQUIREMENTS
One of the major targets which Bulgaria faces on its long road to membership in the European Union (EU) is the synchronization of its regulatory framework in the sphere of customs with EU standards. Bulgaria's commitments under the 1993 European Agreement for Accession to the EU envision that each Bulgarian government should be annually updating the nomenclature of entering the commodities in the Customs Tariff. The aim is to guarantee its compliance with European requirements. The Customs Tariff, approved by a Council of Minsiters Decree No 289, dated December 20, 2001, and published in the Official Gazette, Issue No 1, dated January 4, 2002, has changed the coding of goods. The EU's Integrated Customs Tariff (TARIC) also underlies in the new Bulgarian Customs Tariff. The two documents were introduced within the framework of the Unified Internal Market of the EC back in 1987. The combined nomenclature began to be applied in Bulgaria in 1996 for industrial goods and in 1998 for agricultural goods. TARIC is mainained in an e-format and in addition to tariff measures, includes all other measures connected with the imports, exports and transit deliveries. In the new version of the Bulgarain Customs Tariff for 2002 a total of 59 changes are made in the Agricultural Goods section, 121 - in the Chemistry section, 18 - in the Base Metals section, and 37 - in the Machines and Apparata section. The changes reflect to a large extent the process of foreign trade liberalization, resulting from Bulgaria's agreements within the framework of partnership with the EU, CEFTA, EFTA, and the bilateral agreements for the establishment of free trade zones.As of January 1, 2002, idustrial goods with certificate of origin from EU or CEFTA members are traded duty-free.Commercial exchange with these countries accounts for about 56% of Bulgaria's aggregate turnover of goods, National Statistics Institute data show. The entire liberalization of trade relations with these key partners will most probably considerably reduce the share of customs duties in the total amount of customs revenues into the Treasury. The 2002 Budget Act projects BGN100MN in budget revenues from customs duties, down from BGN138 last year. This year 17.72% of the goods will be exempt of customs duties. Energy sources, raw materials, substances and medicines fall into this group. Customs duties between 2% and 5% will be charged on 19,97% of the commodities, and on about 30% of the imported products customs duties between 6% and 10% will be levied.The average customs duties on imports from countries enjoying the status of a most favoured nation will be 11.29% in 2002, down from 12.42% in 2001. The average rate for industrial goods is 8.51% for 2002, down from 10% for last year. The group of agricultural products (which are on the list of the so-called sensitive goods) will be enjoying a higher customs duty protection. The average rate is 20.59% this year, down from 21.93% in 2001.The measure, claimed to be aimed at tightening the customs regime, is the introduction of a specific tax (a fixed one) on the import of poultry. It is hard to predict if this would limit the attempts to use the well-known scheme for contraband with these products. The fraud he is not so much in declaring the goods at lower prices, but in entering chicken drumsticks (for example) in customs declarations as sub-products.The Customs Tariff for 2002 projects as well a temporary lifting of customs duties for some agricultural products. Dry harricot beans, lentils, wheat, barley, sunflower seeds, raw and refined sunflower oil, are entered in a special appendix as goods to be imported duty-free this year.The changes in the 2002 Customs Tariff will hardly be the last ones. In the process of accession to the EU and within the framework of negotiations with the WTO, there is still to be made an overall analysis of the type and size of customs duties to be levied on the same goods, in order to achieve full harmonization.