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Customs valuation methods to prove that price agreements between related parties are not affected

by Dr. Michael Landwehr

This paper deals with the possibilities of proof under customs value law, which can be used to prove or disprove the influence of price agreements between related parties to the contract of sale. International legal sources and interpretation methods according to the Vienna Convention on Contracts (WVK) are the subject of the study.

The author explores the methodological approach of a systematic examination of the arm's length principle in the GATT Customs Value Code. In doing so, he makes use of the principle of systematic integration under international law according to Art. 31 (3) lit. c) WVK. From this, he derives a regulatory contribution to the implementation of arm's length settlement in the GATT Customs Valuation Code.

Subsequently, the author develops a generally valid verification scheme to concretize the normative purpose of the arm's length principle in the GATT Customs Value Code. The treatment of relatedness cases under customs value law is thus placed on a new basis under international law. In particular, the OECD transfer pricing guidelines are becoming increasingly important in this customs value-based proof of the non-influence of price agreements between associated companies. Price influences as a result of transfer price adjustments are also addressed, as is the benefit of transfer pricing documentation under customs law in connection with the examination of the circumstances surrounding the purchase transaction.

In addition, the author critically examines the relationship between the transaction value under customs law and the transfer price under tax law as well as the harmonisation proposals made by international organisations (e.g. ICC).

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