April 12, 2016—Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos in March signed a new Customs Decree that will facilitate trade processes and improve economic competitiveness.
The decree strengthens protections against risky cargo while facilitating the clearance of items that do not represent risk, increases the use of electronic payments, and promotes voluntary compliance with customs obligations.
Nathan Associates has supported the development of the new decree since 2012 through the USAID Free Trade Implementation Activity (FTIA), or Facilitando Comercio, and a predecessor USAID project, the Peru and Andean Trade Capacity Building Program.
The FTIA project team played a critical role in drafting the decree’s sections on expedited shipments, advance rulings, and cargo release, which must meet commitments under the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA).
In 2012, Nathan conducted a time-release study which found that cargo in Colombia’s Port of Buenaventura, which handles 60 percent of the country’s imports, took on average more than 200 hours to clear customs. The new decree and pending regulations are expected to reduce the time required for cargo release and expedited shipments to 48 hours and 6 hours, respectively—time commitments established in the CTPA.
The FTIA project is advancing customs’ compliance efforts at an operational level and assisting the government in formulating part of its agenda for similar commitments made under the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.