FBR Greenlights Conditional Sharing of Confidential Trade Data

FBR Greenlights Conditional Sharing of Confidential Trade Data

Karachi, January 11, 2024 – The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has granted Customs authorities the authority to share confidential trade data under specific conditions for the tax year 2024.

The updated Customs Act, 1969, released by the FBR, outlines the framework for conditional sharing of sensitive trade information.

The FBR’s directive underscores the importance of confidentiality in trade-related matters while recognizing the need for sharing data within specified parameters. According to the provisions outlined in the updated Customs Act, all trade information amassed by Customs during the clearance of goods will be treated as confidential. However, the FBR has identified specific scenarios in which this confidential information can be shared:

(a) Statistical Purposes: The Customs department and other government organizations are permitted to use the data for statistical purposes.

(b) Comparison and Evidence: The information can be utilized by the appropriate officer of customs for the purpose of comparison and as evidence against other imports and exports.

(c) Legal Proceedings: The data may be produced as evidence before a legal forum or an organization explicitly authorized by the Federal Government.

(d) Agreed Data Contents: Sharing of data is allowed to the extent of agreed data contents under a memorandum of understanding, bilateral, regional, multilateral agreements, or conventions.

(e) Public Disclosure of Valuation Data: Limited public disclosure of valuation data is permissible, including descriptions of items, origin, currency, declared and assessed unit values, without revealing the name and address of the importer or exporter or their suppliers.

It is important to note that any disclosure, publishing, or dissemination of trade information related to any person, except as provided in the specified conditions, without explicit permission, is deemed an offense under the updated Customs Act.

This decision by the FBR aims to strike a balance between the imperative of maintaining confidentiality in trade-related matters and the necessity of sharing information for legitimate purposes such as statistical analysis, legal proceedings, and international agreements. The specified conditions ensure that sensitive information remains protected while allowing for collaboration and comparison in accordance with legal and international standards.

The move is expected to benefit government departments, customs authorities, and organizations involved in trade-related activities by fostering a more streamlined and informed approach. The conditional sharing of confidential trade data aligns with contemporary practices in data governance, where transparency is coupled with stringent safeguards to protect the interests of businesses and individuals involved in international trade. As the tax year progresses, the impact and effectiveness of this initiative will be closely monitored, and adjustments may be made to further refine the balance between transparency and confidentiality in the realm of trade data sharing.