France - Customs and duties
Virtually all import duties are on an ad valorem CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value basis. Minimum tariff rates apply to imports from countries that extend corresponding advantages to France. General rates, fixed at three times the minimum, are levied on imports from other countries. France adheres to the EU's common external tariff for imports. Most raw materials enter duty-free, while most manufactured goods have a tariff of 5% to 17%. The recession of the early 1980s gave rise to calls for protectionist measures (e.g., against Japanese electronic equipment), but the socialist government remained ostensibly committed to free trade principles. Observers noted, however, that cumbersome customs clearance procedures were being used to slow the entry of certain Japanese imports, notably videotape recorders, to protect French firms. There is a standard 18.6% VAT on most imports, with a reduced rate of 5.5% for basic necessities.