Non-FTA items to see tariff cut

Non-FTA items to see tariff cut

The Customs Department hopes to cut import duty on some items not covered by free trade agreements to 20% or less to make local operators more competitive.

The proposal will be submitted to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for approval.

Director-general Rakop Srisupaat said to assist Thai operators in purchasing raw materials and goods at cheaper costs from non-FTA countries, his department would trim tariffs for 8,000 items to a maximum of 20%.

The department now charges import duty of up to 80% for some of these.

Thailand has several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, including the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) and the World Trade Agreement.

Under Afta, import tariffs on capital goods and machinery have been eliminated among regional signatories.

The duty on raw materials has been lowered to 1%, on semi-finished products to 5%, on finished products to 10% and on protected products to 20%.

Separately, Mr Rakop said electronic processing of Asean trade documents at a single point, as per the Agreement to Establish and Implement the Asean Single Window, is expected to start next year.

Electronic processing will link Thailand's trade data to that of other Asean members to allow for more efficient release and clearing of cargo at import and export points in member countries.

This cooperation is aimed at supporting establishment of a single market under the Asean Economic Community.

Mr Rakop said 35 related state agencies are required to join with the Customs Department to adopt electronic processing under the single window.

Importers and exporters will submit their data to the Customs Department's electronic system, and the information will automatically link to the other agencies.

At present, 17 of the 35 state agencies have data linkages. Five or six are in talks with the Finance Ministry about a budget for a system, while the rest are in the process of linking their data.

Moreover, the Customs Department has confirmed to the NCPO that it will proceed with construction and equipment purchases for 40 checkpoints nationwide at a cost of 11 billion baht after the 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill, which includes the checkpoints, was stalled by court order.

Under the fiscal 2015 budget, the department has called for 633 million baht to build 33 of the checkpoints, although that does not take equipment purchases into account.

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