KABUL (SW) – Findings by Salam Watandar indicate the government’s committee on tariffs violated a number of international customs laws by raising tariffs on a number of import items.
An official communiqué ‘CUTO – 4638’ issued last year after a meeting of the tariff’s committee on Sep. 11 categorically directs the Ministry of Finance to increase the customs duty on a number import items including iron bars, carpets and automobiles.
Part of this communiqué suggests that the members of the tariff committee proposed the following decisions based on the Article 26 of the Customs Laws;
- The tariff on iron rods and garters shall be lifted from 5 per cent to 16 per cent
- The code for second-hand imported carpets shall be closed and the tariff should be reduced from 30 per cent to 25 per cent
- All other codes shall be matched with the higher ones in specific categories
Based on this directive, the tariff on automobiles has been inflated from 30 per cent to 70 per cent. This is despite the fact that increase in tariff on automobiles is against the pledges the government has made with the World Trade Organization. Based on the pledges, the Afghan government should not increase tariff on automobiles beyond 50 per cent.
Hence such one-sided moves to increase tariff are likely to spoil the image of Afghanistan in the WTO.
The communiqué has been signed by deputy minister for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Ministry of Commerce, and president of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. The interim minister for Ministry of Finance, Humayun Qayumi, has endorsed the communiqué and has directed for principle practical measures.
This move by the tariff’s committee indicate its members did not consider the pledges government has made with the WTO. Article 26 of the Customs Law states: “The rate of customs clearance of fast-moving goods on the basis of the request of the declarer, regardless of the assessment criteria applicable to other property, is determined by the head of the customs office in accordance with the customs regulations”.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Reshad Popal, director general Customs, has clarified that prior to the meeting on Sep. 11 last year, the other customs codes were misused, and the latest move is aimed at putting an end to that practice. He asserted national interests are always supreme over pledges.
Popal said the change in customs tariff does not mean contradiction with the pledges made with international institutions.
Afghanistan became the 164th member of the World Trade Organization in 2016.