Ⅴ. The Import and Export Tariff
(Ⅰ) The Definition
The tariff is a tariff rate table of customs duty of the imported and exported goods dutiable or free from duty formulated, released and implemented through the legislative procedures in conformity with the national tariff policies and economic policies. It is the legal basis on which the customs levy the customs duty and is also the specific embodiment of the tariff policies of a country.
Generally, the tariff consists of two parts, i.e. tariff nomenclature and tariff rate. The tariff nomenclature mainly includes the description of goods and the corresponding code called tariff number, which is known as the heading and subheading; the subheading is acquired by the further division of tariff heading. The heading divided further into the subheading is called the transitional heading, which is only playing the role of delimitation of the range of commodity with no tariff rate set. The practical heading refers to the heading and subheading with tariff rate set. Typically, the tariff nomenclature also includes the explanatory notes to describe the category, chapter, heading and subheading of the range of commodity and the classification rules of commodity. The tariff rate is a part of tariff policy, which reflects the policy of customs duty of the country. One column or several columns of tariff rate are listed in the tariff to show the different treatment of customs duty for different goods or different countries.
The difference between tariff rates under each heading is called “grade difference”, each step called a tariff scale. Single, two or more tariff rates can be set under a specific heading, namely “single-column-rate”, “mutiple-column-rate”. The amount of difference, the complexity and the number of the columns all depend on the tariff policy of a specific country.
(Ⅱ) The Classification of Tariff
There are many divisions for the tariff. The division by the setup of tariff rate is as follows:
1. Single Tariff & Complex Tariff
The tariff system can be divided into the single tariff and the complex tariff. The single tariff refers to the tariff system with each heading consisting of only one tariff rate, upon which the duty is levied on the goods from any countries without discrimination. Over the past few decades, the single tariff has been abandoned by more and more countries because it can hardly reflect the discriminatory treatment with different countries. At present, only few countries adopt this kind of tariff system.
The complex tariff, also called the multiple-schedule tariff, refers to the tariff setting with two or more rates under one heading, suitable for different countries or regions. The rates can be further specified as the “general rate” (also known as “common rate”) and “agreement rate” (also known as “preferential rate”), in all, abbreviated as double-column rates. It is set to show different tariff treatment between those countries with and others without mutual-favored trade compact or agreement with the nation, for some economic and political purposes. Triple-column, four-column or even more columns can be set up to accomodate different countries or regions, aiming to share international market, monoplize national market, and foster monoplization in markets home or abroad. At present, the triple-column tariff rate is adopted by most of the developed countries, with the following arrangemnt:
l the first column - the general rate (the common rate), also the highest one, applies to countries with no diplomatic relations and mutual-favored trade compact or agreement;
l the second column - the MFN (Most Favored Nation) rate, also called the mutual-favored rate, applies to countries with bilateral or multilateral favored trade compact or agreement;
l the third column - the GSP (Generalized System of Preference) rate, rate reduced or canceled further from the MFN rate, applies to the developing countries enjoying the GSP treatment.
The multiple-schedule setting enjoys high flexibility and a discriminatory characteristic, which can better reflect the tariff policies of a nation. It is adopted by China at present.
2. Autonomous Tariff and Conventional Tariff
The tariff can also be divided into autonomous tariff and conventional tariff by the authority of stipulation of tariff rate.
All the tariff rates that are laid down autonomously according to the conditions of domestic financial, economical, social development by the government of the country and the adjustment of which is not subject to the foreign convention are called the autonomous tariff or state-set tariff, which can be divided into the autonomous and single tariff, the autonomous and maximum-minimum tariff and the autonomous and multiple tariff according to the column of tariff rate. The autonomous and single tariff is to levy duty in conformity with the single tariff rate prescribed by the country for all the imported goods without division of trade target, which, of all tariff systems, is the earliest and simplest and applicable to the countries carrying out the policy of free trade. The autonomous and maximum-minimum tariff refers to the tariff system in which the country works out the maximum and minimum tariff rate autonomously for the same heading, namely, working out the maximum and minimum tariff rate for all the headings or part of the headings separately. The maximum tariff rate is applicable to the countries with which that country has not signed trade or mutual benefits agreement; the minimum tariff to the countries with which that country has signed trade or mutual benefits agreement. The autonomous and multiple tariff is a tariff system in which the country works out three or more kinds of tariff rate for the same tariff heading autonomously, which can fit in with the complicated economic situations and international environment and contribute to the implementation of the complicated economic and trade policies, but it is comparatively complicated and often discriminatory.
The conventional tariff refers to the tariff rate set jointly by two or more than two countries through concluding the unilateral or multilateral trade agreement rather than by one country autonomously. The change and revision of the tariff rate must be subject to the convention. Generally speaking, the commodity items concerned in the relevant tariff rate in the conventional tariff are normally restricted to a certain range rather than covering all the items of imports. Therefore, this kind of tariff adopts duplicate tariff. The conventional tariff is divided into three kinds—bilateral conventional tariff, multilateral conventional tariff and unilateral conventional tariff according to the conventional method. The bilateral conventional tariff refers to the tariff system in which two or more than two countries with sovereignty reduce the tariff rate mutually through negotiation and signing agreement in order to promote their own development in trade. The multilateral conventional tariff refers to the tariff system in which all the contracting countries are striving for their own development and establishing a smooth trade channel by sweeping away the obstacles from the demand for the domestic economic and political development. The unilateral conventional tariff, also called the non-autonomous conventional tariff, is a tariff system in which one country reduces the tariff rate for the goods imported from another country to facilitate the imports while that country does not reduce the tariff rate in return. That is, one country obtains the benefits from the conventional tariff without paying the corresponding price while the other makes sacrifice for the conventional tariff without getting due compensation. In this instance, the rights and obligations belong to different countries rather than enjoyed by each country, which, in reality, is unequal, compulsory and predatory.
At present, the tariff applied in our country is a kind of conventional tariff.
The tariff can be divided into the import tariff and export tariff according to the target of duty collection. Any of the tariffs with the import tariff rate set only is called the import tariff while any of the tariffs with the export tariff rate set only called the export tariff. The import and export tariff refers to the tariff when the import and export tariff combined together, namely, the import and export tariff rate are set at the same time.
At present, the tariff applied in our country falls into the category of the import and export tariff.