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Customs rules bent for EPZ factories

Shippers hail decision on reuse of containers

Doulot Akter Mala | November 10, 2020 00:00:00

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has allowed repurposed use of containers for the export-oriented industries located within the export processing zones.

With the relaxation of customs rules, export-oriented industries will be able to save their costs and time for shipments.

The customs wing of the board issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) through a special order on November 5.

As per the order, export-oriented industries will not have to send the empty containers to the designated locations of shipping agents after unloading of imported raw materials inside the EPZs.

Currently, EPZ industries import raw materials under bonded warehouse facility, unload the containers inside the zones and send back the empty containers to the designated locations/depots/ports/freight stations.

After returning the empty containers, the shipping agents or freight forwarders send again the empty containers to the EPZs for loading export goods.

According to the SOP, the exporters will have to make online shipping orders to the shipping agents or freight forwarders for exporting products through FCL (Full Container Load) or LCL (Less Container Load) containers.

They will have to submit an application to the customs authority two working days before container transportation by furnishing copies of sales contracts/export orders/letters of credit, export permits approved by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and risk bond.

Customs officials in the EPZs, not below the rank of assistant revenue officer, will scrutinise the documents submitted with application and shipping orders online.

The customs officials will conduct physical verification of the export products at the time of loading the container.

The officials will also conduct GPS tracking with electronic seal of the loaded containers. In case of absence of the GPS tracking, they will use exiting bullet seals.

At the time of issuing out pass, the customs officials will cross check the physical verification report, container number and seal number.

The custom officials, who will give the out pass for containers carrying export goods, will have to maintain a separate register containing names of the exporting companies and container numbers.

In case of failure to export products in the empty containers after carrying raw materials by a company, the facility will be valid for other companies or for separate shipping orders.

The information about the reuse will have to be incorporated and coordinated in the annual audit of the exporting companies.

In case of violation or misuse of SOP, the customs authority will take legal action as per the Customs Act-1969 against the EPZ companies.

In the SOP, the NBR has issued a prescribed format of out pass that will have factory name, address, buyer's name, address, L/C or sales contract or purchase order no, invoice, value, quantity, exported goods description, export number, EP number, container and seal no.

Customs procedures of the export activities will be completed at Dhaka and Chattogram customs houses.

NBR officials said allowing the reuse of the containers will help facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) and ease doing business.

Investors, especially from Japan, have long been demanding the facility to reduce their time and cost of business.

Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association Chairman Ahsanul Huq Chowdhury hailed the decision.

"The decision to allow reuse of containers will ease traffic congestion in the port, save time and cost as well as reduce hassle of documentation," he added.

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