Article 28 of the Treaty of Rome provides for the temporary suspension of duties under the Common Customs Tariff (CCT) on imports of raw materials and components for further processing, where it is established that industry within the EU is unable to obtain supplies of the product or suitable substitutes.
The aim of the tariff suspension scheme is to strengthen the Union’s industrial production capacity, thereby making it easier for its producers to compete with third country suppliers. It does not apply to ‘finished’ products. ‘Finished’ products are defined as those which:
• are ready for sale to the end-user;
• are disassembled finished goods;
• will not undergo any substantial processing; or
• already have the essential character of the complete product.
Goods for which anti-dumping or countervailing duties are applicable will normally be excluded from granting a suspension or quota. Goods which are subject to import prohibitions and restrictions (e.g. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will also be excluded from this scheme.
Who Can Avail of the Scheme?
The tariff schemes operate primarily for industrial products and thus the schemes are relevant to manufacturing/processing companies in the chemicals (and allied), micro-electronics (and related) sectors.
Suspensions are normally granted to:
- raw materials;
- semi-finished goods or;
- components not available within the EU or Turkey.
Grounds for refusal
Suspensions will not normally be granted if:
- the amount of uncollected customs duty in question is estimated to be less than €15,000 per year. Enterprises may group together to reach the threshold.
- identical, equivalent or substitute products are available within the EU or Turkey;
- goods are finished products;
- goods are covered by an exclusive trading agreement;
- benefits of the suspension are unlikely to be passed on to the EU.
How Do I Apply?
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation advertises twice yearly on the Departmental website at the beginning of January and the beginning of July. An application in response to such an advertisement is for a suspension period commencing twelve months ahead.
For example, if Company A applies for the round advertised on 1 July and the application is successful, the tariff suspension/quota would not come into effect until 1 July the following year. This lead in time enables all the necessary investigations to be carried out to ensure that the criteria for granting a tariff suspension/quota in respect of applications are satisfied.
Application form for either a tariff suspension request or a tariff quota request
There is no facility for online applications because the forms (with supporting documents) must be submitted in hard copy with original signatures.
Applications are examined by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in conjunction with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners (for advice on the classification of products) and the State Laboratory (for technical advice). Applications must be submitted to the Commission by the specified deadlines i.e. 15 March and 15 September of each year (COM 363/17 refers). These deadlines are absolute.
Irish industry is also notified with the complete list of all new requests to enable Irish companies to object to/ support any proposals. An objection to an application can be made on the basis that the product/component/raw material is actually available in the EU or Turkey. It is then up to the company that requested the suspension/quota to contact the objecting party to ascertain if this is the case.
What happens next?
All applications submitted by the Member States are checked by the Commission and, if eligible, uploaded to Circabc, which is a shared workspace for members of the Economic Tariff Questions Group (ETQG)).
The ETQG is composed of the European Commission and representatives of all Member States. Ireland is represented at the Group by an official from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Member States may post comments, amendments, and answer queries from the Commission/other Member States on this workspace.
The ETQG meets 6/8 times a year to discuss all applications received by the Commission. There are usually three Commission meetings per round of applications, followed by a Council meeting to approve the discussed proposals. The Annex to the existing Regulations is then amended to reflect the addition of the new products.
Validity of Measures
A suspension will be valid for five years; a quota will be valid for a period of six-twelve months.