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Customs policy governs the import and export rules, procedures and tariffs for all trade in goods. As a result, customs policy covers many issues such as product classification, removing unsafe products and tariffs (if any) to be paid for importing products.

BusinessEurope supports efforts aimed at reducing trade costs and simplifying and harmonising customs procedures between the EU and its trading partners. While tariffs are at an all-time low, the growing volume of trade in goods combined with production taking place in global value chains means that even removing low tariffs has a large impact on reducing trade costs. Nevertheless, non-tariff barriers such as quotas, licences and other issues presently form the biggest obstacle to a smooth low-cost international trading environment.

Tackling differences in customs regulation will benefit businesses of all sizes and in particular SMEs. Simplification and harmonisation of customs procedures will reduce administrative costs for companies and allow them to dedicate human resources to tasks that are critical for their business model. The Trade Facilitation Agreement reached by the WTO in December 2013 is an important step in this direction.

Internally, effective implementation of the Union Customs Code (UCC) should entail real simplification and cost benefits for companies. As top priorities we need workable rules of non-preferential origin, more tangible facilitation for trustworthy companies (authorised economic operators), no changes to customs valuation, and simpler and streamlined customs clearance procedures including centralised clearance and self-assessment. Only a successful and uniform implementation can effectively translate into less administrative burden and costs for companies, especially SMEs.


Elena Suárez Sánchez

Senior Adviser
+32 2 237 65 04
Last updated: 6 July 2016