Products under tariff quotas

Member: 

Basic information

1

Outline of the system

Import licences issued by the Treaty Application Department (DAT) of the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade (MIFIC) are required for the administration of the import tariff quotas granted by Nicaragua within the framework of its WTO commitments and current free trade agreements (FTAs). MIFIC is the authority responsible for the administration of such quotas.
The tariff quotas are administered under the licensing system established by ministerial
decisions which regulate the procedures governing applications for quota allocation, quota
distribution and monitoring and control of products subject to quotas. All these legal instruments are published in the Official Journal (La Gaceta) and/or in the national press, and on the MIFIC website (www.mific.gob.ni).

2

Product coverage

The import quota allocation system is based on the issuing of non-automatic licences for
products entering Nicaraguan customs territory under tariff quotas, for which a preferential import duty (DAI) lower than the current tariff is paid.
Products under tariff quotas - See Products

Nature of licensing

Automatic

3

If Automatic, administrative purpose

Non-Automatic

4

If Non-Automatic, description of the notified Non-Automatic Licensing regime

5

Products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

Import licensing applies to products subject to import tariff quotas in accordance with
multilateral WTO commitments and current FTAs. Its purpose is to ensure more effective control of the volume of products entering the country at preferential tariffs under import tariff quotas, while providing a means of monitoring actual rates of fill for quotas allocated to parties to which licences have been issued.

6

Questions for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

See answers 6.1-6.11

7

The system applies to products originating from which country?

The system applies to goods originating in and coming from all WTO Members (in the case
of commitments bound in the WTO) and countries with which Nicaragua has FTAs. Among the products bound by Nicaragua in the WTO, the only ones concerned are powdered milk and rice, since the applied tariff for all other products subject to quotas is lower than the bound tariff in Nicaragua's Schedule XXIX.

8

Expected duration of licensing procedure

Eligibility of applicants

12

Is there a system of registration of persons or firms permitted to engage in importation?

13

What persons or firms are eligible to apply for a licence?

All natural and legal persons domiciled in Nicaragua are eligible to apply for a tariff quota
import licence provided that they fulfil the requirements established in the respective ministerial decisions.

14

Is there a registration fee?

15

Is there a published list of authorized importers?

Contact point for information on eligibility

16

Ministry/Authority

17

Address

18

Telephone

19

Fax

20

E-mail address

21

Website

22

Contact officer

Submission of an application

23

Administrative body(ies) for submission of an application

Documentation requirements

24

What information is required in applications?

Applications must contain the following information:
(a) Name or business name of the natural person or legal entity, as appropriate;
(b) address, telephone number, e-mail address and/or fax number to which notifications
may be sent;
(c) description of the quota in which the applicant wishes to participate;
(d) the volume sought, indicating the tariff heading(s);
(e) photocopy of card showing taxpayers' registration number, certified by a public
notary;
(f) legal entities must also attach photocopies, duly certified by a public notary, of the
following: their articles of incorporation, as registered in the Public Business
Register; a document showing proof of sufficient authority; and their
representative's identity card;
(g) natural persons must also attach photocopies, duly certified by a public notary, of the
certificate showing that they are registered as a business person in the Public Business
Register and of their identity card.

25

What documents is the importer required to supply with the application?

Interested parties are not required to submit the documents referred to in points (e), (f) and (g) if they have already submitted that information to the DAT in a previous application and if there are no changes in the circumstances reflected in those documents at the time of submitting the new application. The ministerial decisions and respective notices are available on the MIFIC website (www.mific.gob.ni).

Window of submission of an application

26

How far in advance of importation must application for a licence be made?

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

27

Are there any limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence can be made? If so, explain

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

Issuing the license

28

Can a licence be granted immediately on request?

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

29

Can licences be obtained within a shorter time-limit or for goods arriving at the port without a licence

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

30

Which administrative body is responsible for approving application of licences?

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

31

Must the applications be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval?

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

32

Are there any other conditions attached to the issue of a licence?

There are no conditions attached to the issuing of licences other than those laid down in the
respective ministerial decisions.

Fees and other administrative charges

33

Is there any licensing fee or administrative charge?

The import licence application process is free of charge.

34

What is the amount of the fee or charge?

35

Is there any deposit or advance payment required associated with the issue of licences?

The issuing of import licences is not subject to a deposit or advance payment.

36

Amount or rate?

37

Is it refundable?

38

What is the period of retention?

39

What is the purpose of this requirement?

Refusal of an application

40

Under what circumstances may an application for a licence be refused other than failure to meet the ordinary criteria?

An application for a quota allocation will be rejected if it is incomplete or submitted in an
untimely fashion, or if it contains errors, blots or smudges, or serious omissions in respect of the information or requirements provided for in the respective ministerial decisions.

41

Are the reasons for any refusal given to applicants?

If the examination of an application reveals errors and omissions that could justify its rejection, the applicant is notified of these and given two working days to correct or supplement the relevant information and resubmit the application.

42

Have applicants a right of appeal in the event of refusal to issue a licence?

If the application is submitted incorrectly a second time, it will be eliminated from the
allocation process.

43

If so, to what bodies and under what procedures?

Importation

44

Are there any limitations as to the period of year during which importation may be made?

Import licences do not apply in cases where there is no quantitative limit on the importation
of a product.

45

What documents are required upon actual importation?

The DAT will issue an import licence to the beneficiaries of the allocated quota. A copy of
this licence is sent to the Directorate-General of Customs Services (DGA) for registration and
administration purposes. The beneficiaries must present the DGA with the original and valid import licence issued by the DAT in order to make partial or total imports under the allocated quota.
When using the import licence registered with the DGA, beneficiaries must comply with the
applicable provisions relating inter alia to customs matters, taxation, and plant, animal and public health.

46

Are there any other administrative procedures, apart from import licensing and similar administrative procedures, required prior to importation?

Imports are not subject to any other administrative procedures, except for those relating to
customs matters, taxation, and plant, animal and public health.

Conditions of licensing

47

What is the period of validity of a licence? Can the validity be extended? How?

A licence is valid for the duration of the quota import period and may not be extended.

48

Is there any penalty for the non-utilization of a licence or a portion of a licence?

Any licence that is not used during its period of validity must be returned to the DAT within
15 calendar days following its expiry (a licence is considered not to have been used when no imports have been made). Failing this, the allocation of the volume indicated on the licence for the current period will be lost.
If a beneficiary uses less than 90 per cent of the total volume allocated to it in the preceding
period, it will only be entitled, in the subsequent period, to the volume actually imported in the preceding period. The respective ministerial decisions provide for a quota return process, under which the beneficiaries must, within the first three working days of September, confirm in writing to the DAT the portions of the quotas assigned to them for the corresponding year that they intend to use. Any returned portion(s) the utilization of which remains unconfirmed will immediately be made available to any interested natural or legal person through a written announcement circulated nationally. In other words, if a beneficiary uses this return mechanism, utilization of the allotted quota will be assessed on the basis of the volume initially allocated less the portion returned.
If the documents submitted by a beneficiary in connection with the allocation of quotas contain incorrect information and if that information is crucial for the allocation of the quota in question, the beneficiary will lose the quota allotted for that year and will not be entitled to participate in the allocation of that quota for the following year.
Any beneficiary that transfers or negotiates an import licence will lose the quota assigned for
that year and will not be entitled to participate in the allocation of the quota in question for the following year.

49

Are licences transferable between importers? If so, are any limitations or conditions attached to such transfer?

Import licences may not be transferred among importers.

Foreign Exchange

50

Is foreign exchange automatically provided by the banking authorities for goods to be imported?

There is no relation between the import licensing regime and the foreign exchange system.

51

Is a licence required as a condition to obtaining foreign exchange?

52

Is foreign exchange always available to cover licences issued?

53

What formalities must be fulfilled for obtaining the foreign exchange?

The following questions are only for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports (whether applicable globally or to a limited number of countries or whether established bilaterally or unilaterally)

6.1

Where is information on allocation and formalities for licences published? Is the overall amount published? The amount allocated to goods from each country? The maximum amount allocated to each importer? How to request any exceptions or derogations from the licensing requirement?

Nicaragua's import tariff quotas in the WTO and under current FTAs are allocated and distributed pursuant to the ministerial decisions published in Nicaragua's Official Journal and the national press, and on the MIFIC website (www.mific.gob.ni). These decisions contain provisions relating to the volumes of available quotas, tariff headings, product description, period of validity, period for the submission of applications, countries of origin, and requirements to be met by parties wishing to submit applications. The amounts allocated to importers are not published, as this information is considered confidential under Law No. 621 (Law on Access to Public Information), published in Official Journal No. 118 of 22 June 2007. Details concerning the overall volumes allocated are made available on the MIFIC website (www.mific.gob.ni) only at the request of the exporting countries and their trade representatives. There are no exceptions or derogations from the procedures established in the ministerial decisions in force.

6.2

Is the size of the quota determined: on yearly, six-monthly or quarterly basis? Are there cases where the size of quota is determined on a yearly basis but licences are issued for imports on a six-monthly or quarterly basis? In the latter case, is it necessary for importers to apply for a fresh licence on a six-monthly or quarterly basis?

The size of the quotas established in the various trade agreements is determined on a yearly
basis in accordance with the commitments set forth in Nicaragua's Schedule XXIX (Part I –
Section I-B, Tariff quotas) and, in the case of FTAs, the negotiated volume. For tariff quotas
introduced because of lack of supply, size is determined according to needs for the supply of raw materials and agricultural inputs. Import licences may be used for partial or total shipments until the allocated volume has been used up.

6.3

Are licences allocated for certain goods partly or only to domestic producers of like goods? What steps are taken to ensure that licences allocated are actually used for imports? Are unused allocations added to quotas for a succeeding period? Are names of importers to whom licences have been allocated made known to governments and export promotion bodies of exporting countries upon request? If not, for what reason? (Indicate products to which replies relate)

Import licences are granted to interested parties, whether natural or legal persons, that fulfil
the requirements laid down in the ministerial decisions, regardless of whether or not they are
producers of like goods. Unused allotments are not added to the corresponding quota for the
following year. Governments or export promotion bodies of exporting countries are not notified directly of the allocation of quotas, as this is considered confidential information under Law No. 621 (Law on Access to Public Information), published in Official Journal No. 118 of 22 June 2007.

6.4

From the time of announcing the opening of quotas, as indicated in I above, what is the period of time allowed for the submission of applications for licences?

Time-limits for the submission of applications are set forth in the ministerial decisions and the notices announcing the opening of quotas.

6.5

What are the minimum and maximum lengths of time for processing applications?

Once the ministerial decisions and notices have been published, interested parties have a
period of between three and ten working days, as of the working day following the date of
publication, to submit their applications. Once the deadline for submitting applications has expired, the competent authority has between four and ten working days to review the applications, followed by three additional working days to issue the respective import licence to the beneficiaries of the quota.

6.6

How much time remains, at a minimum, between the granting of licences and the date of opening of the period of importation?

Once issued, import licences may be used immediately and are valid for the period of
importation relevant to the corresponding quota, except in the case of the first yearly allocation of the tariff quotas bound by Nicaragua in the WTO and existing FTAs. These are allocated approximately two weeks before the quota import period, which runs from 1 January to 31 December each year.

6.7

Is consideration of licence applications effected by a single administrative organ? Or must the application be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval? If so, which? Does the importer have to approach more than one administrative organ?

Applications for import licences are examined solely by the MIFIC's Treaty Application
Department.

6.8

If the demand for licences cannot be fully satisfied, on what basis is the allocation to applicants made? First come, first served? Past performance? Is there a maximum amount to be allocated per applicant and if so, on what basis is it determined? What provision is made for new importers? Are applications examined simultaneously or on receipt?

Quotas are allocated on the basis of three criteria: first, on the basis of the percentage distribution of the total quota among historical importers, with smaller quota amounts allocated to new importers; second, on the basis of the chronological order in which applications are submitted; and third, on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to a minimum allocation volume. The third method is used if amounts are still available following the initial allocation, in which case they are announced in the various notices referred to in the ministerial decisions. Under no circumstances is the volume allocated greater than the one requested. Applications are examined on receipt.

6.9

In the case of bilateral quotas or export restraint arrangements where export permits are issued by exporting countries, are import licences also required? If so, are licences issued automatically?

With regard to bilateral export quotas or export restraint arrangements, Nicaragua does not currently issue export licences. Countries which grant bilateral export quotas are responsible for administering them in accordance with the commitments negotiated under the respective FTAs.
Nicaragua only sets aside a volume of sugar for export under the quota granted to it by the United States within the WTO framework, and on this basis the United States issues a licence for use of the quota. The same procedure is applied with regard to the sugar quota granted by China (Chinese Taipei).

6.10

In cases where imports are allocated on the basis of export permits only, how is the importing country informed of the effect given by the exporting countries to the understanding between the two countries?

No export permits are required from exporting countries.

6.11

Are there products for which licences are issued on condition that goods should be exported and not sold in the domestic market?

There are no products for which licences are granted only on condition that they are exported
and not sold in the domestic market.