New mechanism to provide greater certainty at borders
Tunisia is taking another step closer to full implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement by partnering with the Alliance in introducing a system of advance rulings , increasing visibility on tariff classification and rules of origin.
Advance rulings reduce the time taken in customs declaration processing and overall goods clearance, lowering the overall cost of conducting trade and increasing competitiveness. They enable traders to request a binding legal opinion on the status of their goods that will be uniformly applied by Customs and valid for a set period – usually at least a year.
This provides pre-shipment certainty, harmonises the treatment of goods across all Customs’ posts, and reduces disputes over tariffs. Greater transparency and predictability also create greater access to trade for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The impetus for this Alliance initiative in Tunisia comes from the successful digitalisation of paper-based procedures for obtaining quality control permits for food exports, completed in 2022.
The cross-sectoral relationships formed through the Alliance’s public private partnership model encouraged this further reform. Government agencies, particularly Customs, specified the establishment of an advance rulings’ mechanism as a priority to enhance voluntary compliance. Private sector stakeholders concurred, citing the benefits from uniform application of customs legislation and procedures.
The project, which is scheduled for completion in 14 months, will be overseen by a Steering Committee, involving both public and private sector representatives. Selected businesses will also take part in a focus group to inform the technical aspects of implementation and at the pilot stage of roll-out.