Custom Laws and Procedures
The principle Act regulating Customs procedure in Bangladesh is The Customs Act, 1969 and the Act was amended several times after its adoption. It is pertinent to mention that Bangladesh is a founder member state of WTO and the organization adopted Custom Valuation Agreement in 1995 as part of WTO multilateral Agreements which is known as Agreement on Implementation of Article vii of The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994.
The WTO agreement on customs valuation aims for a fair, uniform and neutral system for the valuation of goods for customs purposes — a system that conforms to commercial realities, and which outlaws the use of arbitrary or fictitious customs values. The Committee on Customs Valuation of the Council for Trade in Goods (CGT) carries out work in the WTO on customs valuation.
Bangladesh adopted the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation in February 2000, as scheduled. Section 25 of the Customs Act, 1969 was amended to reflect this change. The Customs Act, 1969, was also amended in 2001 in line with the Revised Kyoto Convention in order to harmonize customs procedures. Risk-based clearance has been introduced on a limited scale in customs houses through green, yellow and red channels. In particular, customs clearance of passenger baggage in airports has been simplified, and more than 95% of passengers pass through the green channel without any intervention and delays by Customs. In addition to that Bangladesh Customs works under the umbrella of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the apex body for direct and indirect tax revenue in Bangladesh and is part of the Internal Resources Division (IRD) under the Ministry of Finance. The Customs wing of the NBR formulates policy concerning levy and collection of customs duty and customs-related taxes/charges, and administration.
Since the beginning of 1990s Bangladesh emphasized on the simplified process for both export and import and the current Export Policy Order 2012-2015 and Import Policy Order 2012-2015 and 2015-2018 endeavoured to remove all possible barriers to international trade. NBR is performing key role in modernizing customs procedure of Bangladesh mainly to introduce speedy customs clearance through automation of the process; ensure transparency in the customs clearance process as well as in revenue collection activities; and extend the maximum possible facilities to the trade communities. Significant progress in computerization of customs procedures has been made in recent times. The latest version of ASYCUDA, i.e. ASYCUDA++, has been put in place in Dhaka Customs House, Chittagong Customs House (CCH), Benapole Customs House, Mongla Customs, and the Export Processing Zone.
In countries like Bangladesh, regulatory issues and preparation of documents occupy most of the time for trading, while lack of infrastructure and operational inefficiency keeps the system weak. As per the World Bank Doing Business (DB) report 2016 a trader in Bangladesh required 35 days for import and 25 days for export costing US$ 1470 and US$ 1075 respectively whereas the East Asian average is 22 days (US$ 884) and 21 days (US$ 856) respectively.