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Unlocking Trade: Key Revisions in Customs Code for Seamless Business Operations

In the ever-evolving landscape of international trade, staying informed about regulatory changes is paramount. The recent amendment to Article 94 of Law No. 22,415, commonly known as the Customs Code, introduces pivotal modifications aimed at streamlining and securing commercial activities. Let’s delve into the intricacies of these changes, ensuring you’re well-equipped for the dynamic world of global commerce.

Article 94: Empowering Trade, Ensuring Compliance

1. Restrictions on Individuals Engaged in Import-Export Activities

a) Criminal History and Trade Operations
Individuals with a history of conviction for customs, tax, or pension-related offenses face restrictions. The prohibition remains until double the maximum penalty period has elapsed since the completion of the sentence.

b) Association with Convicted Entities
Those who were unlimitedly responsible partners, directors, or administrators of a convicted entity under the offenses mentioned in point 1 are barred. Exceptions apply if they can prove their innocence or opposition to the illicit act.

c) Processing Woes
Individuals with confirmed legal proceedings or under investigation by the ADMINISTRACIÓN FEDERAL DE INGRESOS PÚBLICOS face restrictions until absolved. However, they may operate if customs authorities accept sufficient guarantees to safeguard fiscal interests.

d) Financial Setbacks
Bankrupt individuals and those judicially restricted from managing or disposing of their assets are ineligible for trade operations.

2. Corporate Limitations in Import-Export Ventures

a) Legal Entities Under Scrutiny
Corporate entities and their directors, administrators, or unlimitedly responsible partners facing judicial processes or convictions for customs, tax, or pension-related offenses are suspended. The suspension persists unless the accused resigns within forty (40) days of customs service notification or until acquitted. Exceptions exist if the customs service allows the corporate entity to provide adequate guarantees for fiscal interests.

b) Bankruptcy Struggles
Entities declared bankrupt cannot engage in import-export operations.

c) Administrative Scrutiny
Entities under administrative inquiry face preventive suspension, not exceeding forty-five (45) days, extendable once. This suspension may persist until the final resolution of the administrative inquiry, subject to customs service acceptance of adequate guarantees.

d) Repeated Misconduct
Entities engaging in repeated sanctioned misconduct or serious violations jeopardizing customs service security are prohibited from continued trade operations.

Repealing Obsolete Provisions

In a significant move, Articles 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, and 107 of Law No. 22,415 (Customs Code) are hereby repealed.

Article 100: Director’s Directive Powers Disciplinary Measures

The Director General of Customs possesses discretionary powers to impose sanctions based on the severity of the offense, the damage caused or potentially caused, and the individual’s track record.

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a) Warning
For minor infractions, a simple warning may suffice.

b) Suspension or Prohibition
Serious violations may result in suspension or prohibition from conducting foreign trade operations.

Article 103: Administrative Inquiry Process Refinement

Streamlined Administrative Summons

Within the framework defined in Article 100(b), the Customs General Directorate must initiate an administrative inquiry. Following necessary investigations, the involved party receives a ten (10)-day notice to present a defense and submit relevant evidence.

Article 119: Strengthening Enforcement Measures

Heightened Vigilance

Customs service agents and, within their respective jurisdictions, security and police forces have the authority to identify and inspect individuals, goods, and transportation, acting on suspicions of customs offenses. Prompt action includes apprehension, seizure, or interception of goods within forty-eight (48) hours, transferring them to competent authorities.

Article 120 bis: Embracing Digital Evolution

Digital Transformation Mandate

The National Executive Power must implement procedures simplifying obligations for stakeholders in foreign trade activities. Leveraging information technologies, automation, and communication for electronic information exchange is essential.

Digital Signatures for Efficiency

Digital signatures, duly certified, or electronic signatures are legally equivalent to handwritten signatures. This applies to customs officials and individuals involved in the customs process. Requirements for handwritten signatures can be replaced by passwords, digital, or electronic signatures for computer-based trade activities.

Contingency Measures

Provisions for contingency procedures in case of electronic system failures are established. In such instances, the Customs General Directorate may authorize manual submission of documents temporarily. However, these actions must be integrated into electronic systems once normalcy is restored.

Regulatory Framework

The Customs General Directorate and relevant authorities will establish supplementary rules and procedures governing the emission, transfer, digitization, use, and control of information related to these operations.

In conclusion, these amendments not only fortify regulatory frameworks but also propel customs procedures into the digital era, fostering efficiency and compliance in international trade. Stay abreast of these changes to navigate the global trade landscape with confidence.

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