I am thinking of beginning an import/export business.How will the local Pakistani customs law have an impact on my foreign dealings?

The Customs Act 1969, as amended by The Prevention of Smuggling Ordinance 1977 Ch. VI (Amendment of Customs Act 1969), consolidates and amends law relating to levy and collection of customs duties and also provides for other allied matters. This Act repeals (a) The Sea Customs Act 1878, (b) Inland Bonded Warehouse Act 1896 and (c) Land Customs Act 1924.

The Central Board of Revenue which is the Chief Customs authority may appoint officers of Customs or may entrust, either conditionally or unconditionally any functions of any officer of Customs under this Act to any officer of Federal or Provincial Government.Under this Act, Federal Government has power from time to time by notification to prohibit or restrict bringing or taking by air, sea or land goods of any specified description into or out of Pakistan. Contravention of this section would make goods liable to detention and confiscation by Customs authorities.

The Act provides for levying of customs duties at rates prescribed under Finance Act, passed annually or under any law for time being in force on: (a) Goods imported into or exported from Pakistan; (b) goods brought from any foreign country to any Customs Station and without payment of duty there transshipped or transported for, or hence carried to and imported at, any other Customs Stations; and (c) goods brought in bond from one Customs Station to another.

The Federal Government has general power to exempt from customs duties any goods imported into or exported from Pakistan.The Central Board of Revenue has power to declare certain places as Customs Ports or Customs airports or Land Customs Stations.

Federal Government may by special order in each case recording such circumstances exempt any goods from payment of whole or any part of customs duties chargeable thereon. Under S.R.O. 1972 Federal Government exempted samples of no commercial value from whole of customs duty leviable thereon on export from Pakistan.

Where goods are imported only temporarily with a view to subsequent re-exportation, Chief Customs authority has power to exempt them from duty subject to such limitations and conditions as it sees fit to impose on such goods either by generally prescribed rules or in any particular case by special order.

Where prescribed goods of such class or description which are intended to be used in production, manufacture, repair or refitting are imported into Pakistan, Chief Customs authority with previous sanction of Federal Government and subject to such terms and conditions as it sees fit to impose, may either exempt goods from duty or authorize repayment in full or in part of duty already paid.

Where goods capable of being easily identified are imported into Pakistan and upon which customs duties have been paid on importation are exported to any place outside Pakistan seven-eighths of such duties shall be repaid as drawback, subject to following conditions: (a) Goods are identified to satisfaction of an officer of Customs not below rank of Assistant Collector of Customs at same Customs Station, through which goods had been imported; and (b) goods are entered for export within two years of date of their importation as shown by records of Customs House or if such time is extended by Central Board of Revenue or Collector of Customs for sufficient cause within such extended time. Provided that Collector of Customs shall not extend time beyond three years of importation of such goods.

Federal Government has powers to make rules according to which repayment of duty as drawback will be allowed on such goods as are taken into use between importation and re-exportation.

Any conveyance entering Pakistan from any place outside Pakistan must call or land in first place at a Customs Station and deliver within 24 hours import manifest to appropriate Customs Officer.

Penalties for offences in above act range in specified cases to a maximum fine of Rs. 10,000, confiscation of conveyance and/or goods, a penalty not exceeding ten times the value of goods and/or imprisonment not exceeding six years on conviction before a Magistrate. New provisions on Alternate Dispute Resolution have been incorporated into law to provide for efficient and quick mode of determination of disputes.

Countervailing Duties Ordinance 2001 gives effect to provisions of Arts. VI and XVI of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and to Agreement on Subsidies & Countervailing Measures. Ordinance amends law relating to imposition of countervailing duties to offset such subsidies to provide framework for investigation and determination of such subsidies and injury in respect of goods imported into Pakistan and ancillary matters thereto. Anti-dumping Ordinance 2000 amends and consolidates laws relating to imposition of anti-dumping duties. National Tariff Commission can impose anti-dumping measures on products imported into Pakistan if investigated product is dumped within meaning of Ordinance or injury is being caused to domestic industry.

By Import of Goods (Development Surcharge) Ordinance, 1984, development surcharge of three rupees and 50 paisa per ton is to be levied and collected on all goods other than food grains, fertilizers and petroleum products, imported through Karachi customs port.