Trade deal to ease regulations on importing plastics

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) has struck a global deal that should ease import and customs procedures that can hold up the delivery of plastics, raw materials and plastic products to export customers.

The agreement on trade facilitation was agreed by a WTO ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, which wrapped up at the end of last week.

The meeting’s chairman, Gita Wirjawan — Indonesia’s trade minister — said the deal would “reduce the cost of trading, smooth the flow of goods across borders and provide more certainty for business,” creating up $1 trillion in value for global business.

It insists that all WTO members publish all import procedures, charges, tariffs and appeal systems.

And it says penalties for breaking customs rules must depend on the seriousness of the breach and not encourage officials to impose them arbitrarily, avoiding “conflicts of interest in the assessment and collection of penalties and duties.”

Also, plastics exporters should be offered the ability to lodge customs documents electronically in advance for pre-arrival processing, with WTO member states offering the electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees and charges.

WTO member states have agreed to review their trade rules and simplify them to make sure they reduce “the time and cost of compliance for traders and operators.”