Initiative to speed up the release of perishable goods by Bangladesh customs authorities
Facilitating the prompt disposal of goods is very important in international trade and commerce
Perishable goods refer to goods or a product with a short lifespan, i.e. the goods as such continue to metabolize and breathe after harvest.
In other words, perishable products, for example, dairy products, meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, etc., ripen or deteriorate easily and the quality deteriorates due to a longer period. long, environmental conditions and bad temperature.
As is well known, the time taken in the transport of perishable goods requires special attention to mitigate the risks associated with the goods, for example the risk of spoilage, loss of freshness, quality and rotting.
While the success of risk reduction largely depends on multiple steps or processes, one of the first steps in minimizing risk is âthe prompt clearance of perishable goodsâ.
Facilitating the speedy disposal of goods is very important in international trade and commerce.
Without prompt customs clearance, perishable goods remain in ports, increasing the risk of degradation and compromising the quality of the goods.
Companies or commercial organizations engaged in the import-export or international trade of these goods therefore suffer considerable losses economically.
In recent times, the country has seen an increase in import-export despite the Covid-19 pandemic, goods have been stranded in ports for a long time due to unprecedented imposed closures.
It significantly affected the commercial organizations or companies concerned.
Several reports suggest that in recent months there have been several cases of congestion at the country’s port.
For example, containers loaded with perishable goods were abandoned by importers in ports.
But while the customs authority has addressed this issue for now and has started disposing of the goods fairly immediately, legislative action is needed to avert a similar crisis in the long run.
It should be mentioned that there were no regulations regarding this situation.
In the past, perishable cargoes imported through Chittagong and Mongla ports in reefer containers often remained stuck in the port because there was no law requiring authorities to empty the container and unload the cargo within a specific timeframe if recipients did not. not to take delivery of the cargo.
This resulted in the container and cargo being left in the cold store for months, and in most cases the cargo would be totally damaged, and the container would suffer damage as well.
If the shipping companies got a court order ordering the authority to dispose of the cargo, the authorities would form a committee of several government agencies made up of customs, port, police, Bangladesh border guards, guardians. coasts of Bangladesh, the City Corporation, the Ministry of Environment and other agencies, and from the time of obtaining the court order to dispose of the cargo until unloading effective would take many months.
The port authority would impose the cost of storage on shipping agents.
As such, in the absence of proper guidance from the government, an inevitable increase in delays could be observed in the release or disposal of perishable goods, which would have a significant impact on global maritime trade. in Bangladesh.
Therefore, in order to alleviate the global container shortage and congestion in Bangladesh’s ports, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on August 11 earlier this year released a new set of rules titled “Perishable Goods Speedy Release and Disposal Regulations- 2021 “to expedite the import and export of 64 types of perishable goods at ports in Bangladesh.
This regulation was enacted at a very opportune time given the underlying crisis at the port.
This will not only facilitate the procedure of unloading the goods, but also speed up the process of customs clearance.
This new regulation will now ensure the rapid evacuation of livestock, birds, animals, ducks, chicken, poultry, frozen fish, yeast, mushrooms, fresh fruit, vegetables, raw rubber, unprocessed tobacco, oil seeds, potatoes, grains, grains. , lenses etc.
The given list of perishables provided in the annex, the regulation also includes: sugar, test salt, dairy products, frozen and processed meats, poultry eggs, chocolate, cookies, crisps, noodles , pickles, dried fruits, tea leaves, garlic, peppers, gingers, tamarind, soybeans D, raisins, all foods and cosmetics for a period not exceeding six months, medicines and medicinal raw materials and edible oils.
In addition, to expedite tariffs, customs officers are now required to complete all procedures, including customs valuations and examination of perishable goods within 48 hours of presentation of the bill of lading for disposal. perishable goods (Rule 5 of 2021 Regulations) provided that taxes and duties are paid.
These 2021 Regulations provide for the formation of a separate Commodity Disposal Committee to conduct the auction of perishable goods or any other means of disposal which under Rule 8 (2) of the Regulations , must complete the disposal of perishable goods at auction. or in any other way within a maximum period of 48 hours, regardless of day or night.
Please note that the Commissioner may, subject to reasonable grounds, extend the above time limit.
Examples of reasonable grounds are: when requested by customs intelligence, risk management or if products selected for physical examination, etc.
The Government of Bangladesh, with the promulgation of these regulations, complied with the terms of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and ensured the prompt release and clearance of the perishable goods by supporting the country’s supply chain. .
The editors are lawyers of MCLaw Services, being respectively the Head of Chambers and Partner of MCLaw Services