The Lebanese council of ministers gave its preliminary approval for a new Customs law that would facilitate the import and export of goods in Lebanon. The reformed Customs laws will streamline the paperwork on cargo clearance, clamp down on smuggling, speed-up port clearance, formalize payment methods and help Lebanon meet World Trade Organization (WTO) membership requirements.
The new law will also change the import manifest procedure, which currently cumbersome and time consuming. New reforms will modernize Beirut to level of most global ports, where the agent representing the cargo in the receiving country produces the manifest.
The new draft bills are also a prelude to the introduction of a value-added tax (VAT) that will eventually reduce tariffs. However, the government indicated that reducing customs tariffs requires a separate draft bill.
The new customs law will be submitted to the Shura Council, the country’s highest legal body, for a formal recommendation. Since the measure does not need to pass through Parliament, the Higher Customs Council could implement the law as early as January 2001.
The Cabinet’s reforms to customs, construction, and banking laws are designed to modernize the tax system before joining the European-Mediterranean partnership and the Arab Free Trade Zone. — (Lebanon Invest )