Multilateral Trade Agreements
TPP text released via New Zealand The Rakyat Post 5th Nov 2015
The long-awaited text of a landmark US-backed Pacific trade deal was released today, revealing the details of a pact aimed at freeing up commerce in 40% of the world’s economy but criticised for its opacity. The text is available at www.mfat.govt.nz/Treaties-and-International-Law/01-Treaties-for-which-NZ... and also at the Malaysian International Trade and Industry website at www.fta.miti.gov.my/index.php/pages/view/tppa from 6pm today (Malaysia time). If ratified, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be a legacy-defining achievement for US president Barack Obama and his administration’s pivot to Asia, aimed at countering China’s rising economic and political influence. China has responded with its own Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed 16-nation free-trade area including India that would be the world’s biggest such bloc, encompassing 3.4 billion people.
Why the TPP is good for small businesses Fortune 27th Oct 2015
As Congress evaluates the details of what could be the world’s biggest trade deal yet in the coming months, one of the most crucial components that often gets overlooked is the agreement’s focus on small and medium-sized businesses. The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents an unparalleled opportunity for the global economy. The deal is the largest and most substantial free trade agreement in history, connecting 12 global economies, 40% of GDP and 800 million consumers across the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region. For the first time in any trade agreement, TPP includes a chapter focused on addressing trade barriers that disproportionately challenge small business, including complex trade paperwork, opaque customs regulations, and the slow delivery of small shipments. Collectively, these improvements through TPP should help small- and medium-sized companies expand their international business or make the decision to go global in the first place.
Merging Asian trade blocs 'best' way to include China: Robb Nikkei 22nd Oct 2015
Even with the recent conclusion to talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, some issues still loom, among them how to bring China into the trade bloc. In an interview with The Nikkei on Wednesday, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said he sees the "best pathway" to that end in another regional trade pact Beijing is already on board with. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, consisting of 16 nations, overlaps somewhat with the TPP. Japan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and three others are involved in crafting both the TPP and the RCEP. But the U.S. belongs to only the TPP group, while China, India and South Korea are part of only the RCEP group.
Automation key to customs efficiency The Phnom Penh Post 29th Oct 2015
Private-sector enterprises urged Cambodia’s Customs Department yesterday to introduce an online application and payment system for shipments, rather than the manual method used currently that eats into time and resources. At a luncheon jointly organised by CAMFEBA and the American Chamber of Commerce, a Tax Department official said a strategy was in place to improve customs clearance operations and establish a single-window system, though the department was waiting for funding to implement it. “We are developing the program and hope to have it in the future,” said Sang Sinavith, deputy director for planning, technique and international affairs at the General Department of Taxation.
Cambodia port authority hits the road to sell IPO to investors JOC 27th Oct 2015
Cambodia’s Phnomh Penh Autonomous Port has launched a roadshow to lure investors for its Dec. 11 stock market listing aimed at raising funds for expansion to cope with rising trade volumes. The state-owned port authority, operator of the country’s second largest container port, Phnom Penh, is seeking to raise up to $6.4 million by floating 20 percent of the company on the Cambodian Securities Exchange (CSX). If successful, the listing would make PPAP just the third company to list on the Cambodian bourse. Around 4.1 million shares are being offered to investors, 40 percent of which are expected to be taken up by institutions. “So far 80 percent of the offering has been booked,” said Han Kyung Tae, managing director of Yuanta Securities, the sole underwriter, book runner and lead manager for the IPO. “We secured about 70 percent of the offering from our clients, and another 10 percent was allocated for PPAP’s employee stock ownership plan. We expect much more investment and are very confident the IPO will be successful.”
Indonesia to tighten supervision to check illegal imports: Finance Minister Antara 9th Nov 2015
Indonesia has vowed to tighten supervision to check illegal import and export of commodities after seizing illegally-imported textile products and illegally-exported mineral and coal products, a minister said. Four containers of illegally-imported textile products and 80 containers of illegally-exported mineral and coal products were seized, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said. "The Customs and Excise Directorate General will do its best to prevent illegal import and export of commodities because these practices threaten Indonesias economy," the minister said at a press briefing here Monday. In preventing smuggling in Indonesia, the Customs and Excise Directorate General needs to work in synergy with and support from ministries and authorized institutions closely related to the trade, he said.
Moody's: TPP Membership Can Be 'Positive' for Indonesia Jakarta Globe 2nd Nov 2015
Indonesia's entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact spearheaded by the US, would be "credit positive" to the country's sovereignty, mitigating the negative effects of lower commodity prices on the country's exports and wider economy, a recent memo from rating agency Mood's Investor Services said. Indonesia, which currently boasts an investment-grade rating of Baa3 and a stable outlook from Moody's, has been struggling with a lackluster trade performance as exports — more than half of which are commodity goods — fell 13 percent year-on-year to $115 million as of September. In the memo released Monday, analysts from Moody's noted that the TPP would expand the country's export base, which would increase the contribution of free trade agreements to total exports to 76 percent from the current 66 percent.
Govt told to be neutral on export restrictions Jakarta Post 2nd Nov 2015
The government would be better using a diplomatic approach rather than imposing retaliatory measures in response to restrictive trade practices conducted by Indonesia’s trading partners, an international trade observer has said. Niki Bavenda Sari, a researcher with the Trade Ministry’s board of trade policy study and development, said recently that restrictive trade measures should not be met by similar restrictive practices, as they could backfire. “The government needs to be neutral and try to understand the reasons behind the enactment of restrictive measures on local products,” she said during the dissemination of a trade-related policy review. However, the government also needed to negotiate with trading partners imposing restrictive measures on Indonesian products to maintain its export targets.
Trade Ministry defends new timber export policy The Jakarta Post 30th Oct 2015
The Trade Ministry has defended its stance on a revised regulation annulling the timber legality verification system (SVLK) requirement for exporting 15 downstream products of timber, saying that exporters are still obliged to show proof of environmentally certified material. Trade Ministry’s expert for foreign trade policy, Arlinda, said on Thursday her ministry strongly supported the SVLK system, meaning that every exported wood product had to be sourced from timber with legal certification. “For certain products, small to medium-sized exporters are required to prove that their raw materials are sourced from legal timber [without SVLK],” she said, adding that the new regulation was aimed at simplify the previous one.
Democrats Join Chorus of Criticism Over Indonesia’s Planned Entry Into TPP The Jakarta Globe 29th Oct 2015
The party of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has criticized Indonesia’s current leader, Joko Widodo, for committing the country to the US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade pact that his predecessor refused to sign up to. The Democratic Party says Indonesia is not yet ready to face the competition that joining the pact would entail, citing inadequate infrastructure and low public awareness about the TPP and its costs and benefits. “Are Indonesians and the national economy really ready for this?” asked Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, the former president’s son and a senior member of the Democratic Party. “How about our domestic infrastructure? Has the government asked for the public’s opinion, especially those involved in the national economy, about the possible impact of the TPP on Indonesia in the future?”
Indonesia in No State to Join Trans-Pacific Partnership, Stakeholders Caution The Jakarta Globe 28th Oct 2015
Indonesia should learn from previous trade deals before jumping into the US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, analysts say, citing the lack of competitiveness of the country’s manufacturing sector. “The TPP trade deal can increase trade volume among its members, but can we take a big portion of that trade?” Lana Soelistianingsih, an economist at Samuel Sekuritas and lecturer at University of Indonesia’s School of Economics, said on Wednesday. “Countries with manufacturing-based exports will be able to perform better in this partnership,” she added. Her comments came in response to President Joko Widodo’s statement after a meeting with US President Barack Obama on Monday that Indonesia was committed to joining the TPP. The country’s main business lobby has also cautioned the government to approach the deal with national interests foremost in mind.
Indonesia Wants to Join TPP: President Jokowi The Diplomat 27th Oct 2015
Indonesia intends to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the country’s president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told an audience while on his inaugural visit to Washington, D.C. on Monday. “Indonesia intends to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Jokowi said to rousing applause, repeating his remarks twice at a roundtable and dinner reception October 26 organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S.-Indonesia Society. Jokowi said that he had discussed many serious issues with U.S. President Barack Obama when the two leaders held a summit earlier today at the White House, making specific reference to the South China Sea. But he used the opportunity to reinforce the message he had delivered earlier today that Indonesia wanted to make its intentions clear about joining the TPP.
‘Buying mission’ scheme encourages export deals Jakarta Post 24th Oct 2015
The Trade Ministry’s sophomore buying mission scheme has encouraged more foreign importers to ink deals with local exporters, says an official. According to data from the ministry, the scheme has facilitated trade contracts worth up to US$110.7 million so far this year. The buying mission closed deals worth around $50 million in the previous year. The ministry’s director of promotion and image development Pradnyawati explained on Friday that the buying mission scheme aimed at facilitating prospective foreign importers to come to the country and close deals with local traders by reimbursing airfares and accommodation costs incurred during the visits. The scheme is a joint cooperation of the ministry’s overseas representatives, Indonesian trade attaches and Indonesian Trade Promotion Centers (ITPCs). “Up until the third day of the Trade Expo Indonesia, traders have entered into several contracts worth $52.7 million [of the total value],” she said. Seven Indonesian exporters had signed trade contracts worth more than $8 million with five buyers from Malaysia, Australia, Japan and the US on Wednesday, the expo’s first day. Eleven exporters on Thursday followed suit by closing deals worth around $40.5 million with seven importers from Malaysia, Belgium and Canada.
Boost to govt coffers The Star Online 5th Nov 2015
The hike in the excise duty on tobacco products in Malaysia is expected to help alleviate pressure on the Government’s revenue amid the current weak oil price environment. According to some economists, while taxes on tobacco products in general only account for less than 2% of total Government revenue, the excise duty hike of 42.9% could turn out to be one of the more effective avenues to boost its coffers. At least one economist expects the excise duty collection from the tobacco, cigarettes and cigars segment to increase by up to RM400mil next year due to the recently announced hike.
Smugglers not going to have it easy The Star 3rd Nov 2015
Smugglers will not have an easy time now that the number of border security personnel has been increased 10-fold under a new multi-agency force. From only a 909-strong workforce serving the anti-smuggling unit now, the agency will have about 10,000 people to mobilise and monitor the borders along the northern part of the peninsula, thanks to the various agencies that have been roped in for the purpose. Apart from police, the Border Security Agency – which came into effect administratively starting yesterday – will comprise Customs, immigration, the army’s border regiment personnel and enforcement officers from the Malaysia Kenaf and Tobacco Board. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was a significant achievement as the setting up of the agency did not require additional cost nor the creation of new posts.
Malaysia talks up potential of TPP Global Trade Review 28th Oct 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could help transform Malaysia’s sluggish exports sector, speakers at an event in Kuala Lumpur unanimously agreed. Discussing the various regional and inter-regional initiatives that Malaysia is to become involved in over the next few years (the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the One Belt One Road project base, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Asian Economic Community), Tim Warren, regional head Asia Pacific, credit and political risk at Zurich, said that the TPP was the one that could dominate them all. Warren explained that the agreement would remove existing tariffs among some of Malaysia’s closest trading partners, but said the real benefit could come from the opening up of new markets, particularly those in Latin America.
Myanmar-China border trade tops $3 bn Eleven 10th Nov 2015
The border trade between Myanmar and China has topped US$3 billion this year, which is about $200 million more than last year’s value during the same period. The border trade hubs in Muse, Lweje, Chinshwehal and Kanpitetee all process transactions with China, with Muse processing the highest trade volume. Myanmar has signed border trade contracts with India, Thailand, China and Bangladesh. Myanmar exports agricultural products, animal products, mineral extracts, forest products and industrial finished products. The country imports commodities, industrial raw materials and capital goods. Mobile investigation units are also combating illegal smuggling at border gates.
Burma Vote Boosts Hopes of Lifting Sanctions, With a Big 'If' The Irrawaddy 10th Nov 2015
The United States on Monday welcomed Burma’s election as a victory for the people, and the vote appeared to raise prospects of a further lifting of US sanctions—provided the military accepts the results. While highlighting encouraging signs from Sunday’s poll, Washington remained cautious and said it would watch for the democratic process to move forward before lifting more sanctions, which still target more than 100 individuals and businesses and limit US investment in Burma. Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party conceded defeat on Monday in the country’s first free general election in 25 years. The opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that could ensure it forms the next government.
India calls end to barter trade at Myanmar border Myanmar Times 9th Nov 2015
India’s central bank said it had made the decision “in consultation with the Government of India”. The circular replaces rules issued in 1997 allowing border trade to be settled through the barter system. Under the existing system,traders can exchange goods worth less than US$20,000 including pulses and beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, bamboo, forest products (excluding teak), tobacco and other commodities. “Barter trade was initially permitted to facilitate exchange of locally produced commodities along the Indo-Myanmar border,” said the November 5 notice. “As such, these transactions were not captured in the banking system or reflected in the trade statistics. However, over a period of time the trade basket has diversified and adequate banking presence is in place to support normal trade with Myanmar.”
Sanctions Fears Choke Nascent US Trade with Myanmar Myanmar Business Today 8th Nov 2015
Western banks are cutting trade finance in Myanmar after learning that part of the country's main port is controlled by a man blacklisted by Washington, threatening to stop nascent U.S. economic ties with the Southeast Asian nation in their tracks. U.S. shipments to Myanmar have slowed to a crawl in recent months, after several banks including Citigroup Inc, Bank of America, HSBC and PNC Financial curtailed their financial backing of trade with the country, according to sanctions lawyers and other people familiar with the matter. Studying trade documents, Citigroup noticed in June that the Port of Yangon's main terminal is controlled by Steven Law, who is subject to U.S. sanctions because of his alleged ties to Myanmar's military, they said. Citi then alerted other banks, and their compliance officers warned that further financing could violate remaining U.S. sanctions, according to several sources, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
White House adviser hints Myanmar vote could lead to US sanctions relief Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2015
Senior national security aide Ben Rhodes, who recently returned from Myanmar, said some electoral problems were likely but a broadly fair vote could provide an economic and diplomatic boon. “Obviously it will impact how we look at sanctions,” Mr Rhodes said, hitting at what he called a misperception that Myanmar had already received the full benefit of better ties with Washington. President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to engage with Myanmar’s rulers, concluding that the longstanding US policy of isolating the military juntas they oversaw had not borne fruit. In 2012 and 2014 Mr Obama visited the country, a major gamble with his reputation should the election prove to be a sham. Mr Rhodes insisted the inclusion of entities and individuals from the country formerly known as Burma on the US “Specially Designated Nationals” sanctions list had a “chilling effect” on investors.
Trade Volume Dips in First Half of 2015-16 Myanmar Business Today 29th Oct 2015
During the first six months of the current fiscal year, which started in April, trade volume dropped $865 million over the same period last year, a nearly six percent drop. Most of this fall occurred in September this year, which accounted for $642 million in decreased volume, as opposed to $223 million in the previous five months combined. “It is true that the trade volume is lower than last year. Both exports and imports have decreased. Imports have decreased due to a stronger dollar. The export of finished products has also decreased. This is compounded by the temporary ban on rice exports,” Dr Maung Aung, advisor to the Ministry of Commerce, told Myanmar Business Today. The decrease in finished products exports is partially due to employee reductions and reduced volume of some garment factories after the minimum wages law was enacted. Some garment factories failed to fulfill foreign orders. Moreover, some businesses are waiting the results of general election to import or export goods.
EU–Myanmar trade grows despite restrictions Eleven 27th Oct 2015
The Ministry of Commerce has reported that within six months of the 2015-16 fiscal year, around US$325 million worth of trade occurred between Myanmar and the European Union (EU). Up until September, imports from the EU reached US$185 million while exports to the EU were US$143 million. “Now Russia has also given us rights in the GSP [generalised system of preferences]. Myanmar now has a lot of trade opportunities but even though nine countries have given us permission, such as Russia, Turkey, Norway and Australia, we have not yet the capacity to properly supply the demands of those markets. They want to buy mounds of rice and clothes but they are strict in quality control,” said Dr Maung Aung, adviser to the commerce ministry. A trader said: “In order for our country to achieve a portion of the market share, we have long ways to go. The key players with the most trade are our neighbouring countries and while the EU has given us opportunities through GSP, we still face restrictions in exporting our products.”
China-Myanmar trade booming Eleven 27th Oct 2015
According to Yang Xiuping, secretary general of the Asean-China centre, operations worth US$12.2 billion have been completed out of the projected US$18.5 billion. She said that China would strive towards boosting trade between the two countries and seek the cooperation of Myanmar to combat illegal trade. Win Win Myo, deputy director of commerce, said: “Even though some of her data does not exactly match our official records, it is definite that the Myanmar-China trade is growing year by year. We mainly export to China natural gas, jade, agricultural products, garments and minerals. The imports are machines, metal work, motor vehicles and their parts as well as mobile phones and spare parts for the imports. There are more than 7,700 trade channels between the two nations and there are some items that are tax-free for us to export to them. I would ask that the nations step up cooperation in combating illegal trade.” In 2014, China-Myanmar trade totalled US$25 billion so far in 2015, China had already invested US$3.9 billion in electric power, mining, oil and gas sector as well as transport.
Myanmar increases imports of palm oil to meet demand mizzima 27th Oct 2015
Myanmar imported 400,000 tons of palm oil annually to fill demand of edible oil as an alternative, according to a Xinhua report on October 25. The increase in palm oil imports is due to a lacklustre production of locally produced cooking oils. Domestic edible oil produced from peanuts is 500,000 tons a year, while edible oil consumption is 900,000 tons, according to the Edible Oil Dealers' Association. The association attributed the low edible oil production to a drop in the number of peanut oil mills in operation nationwide. Since 2011, the Myanmar authorities have granted private companies permission to import palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia in a bid to meet the demand.
Border Trade Plans Leave Thai Locals in Flux Bangkok Post 26th Oct 2015
Walk through any farmland in Mae Sot district’s Tha Sai Luat at the end of the rainy season this year and you’re unlikely to step on ripening produce. You’re more likely to encounter muddy, empty land. “Most land owners are hesitant to plant crops at the moment so their farmland is lying empty for a while,” said farmer Sombat Ngamdee, 53. Farmland at this time of the year—the beginning of harvesting season—was once filled with produce waiting to be harvested. But since the government announced the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tak earlier this year, Mr Sombat said farmers such as himself have been afraid to invest in farming as they have no idea if they will have to leave their land. Mr Sombat backs the SEZ in Tak, first proposed in 2004, as he believes it will bring opportunities to local people. However, the decision by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government last year to set up SEZs across the country, and use Section 44 of the interim charter to implement the project on May 15 this year, came unexpectedly.
Animal Feed Traders Seek Increase in Import Quota Myanmar Business Today 23rd Oct 2015
The price of animal feed is rising on the local market and greater imports of animal feed will be permitted in order to control the price, said Dr Thet Hmu, chairman of Myanmar Animal Feed Producers Association. “We will sell imported animal feed on the local market. Local production of animal feed is still strong but we are just trying to meet the market demand,” said Dr Thet Mu. “Recent nationwide floods have destroyed raw materials for animal feed such as paddy and corn. Roads have been destroyed and it is hard to transport the goods. Prices of raw materials are high and sometimes difficult to source.” Fish and shrimp feed are currently imported from India, Argentina and Brazil. Bran from India and instant food bar from Vietnam will be imported soon, Dr Thet Mu added. “Fish farms have been flooded and also due to fish feed shortages, owners culled their fish from farms before they were mature. Now there are more than enough fish on the market,” said U Win Kyaing, secretary of Myanmar Fisheries Federation.
Trade, Production Statistics Available on New Government Data Site The Irrawaddy 23rd Oct 2015
The Burmese government this week launched a new website making available for the first time a raft of data sets containing some of the country’s vital statistics on international trade, domestic production and finance. The Myanmar Statistical Information Service (MMSIS) database has been developed by the Central Statistics Organization in collaboration with the South Korean aid agency, KOICA. It contains a range of data drawn from various government departments: from the total number of seats in Burma’s cinemas (16,999) to the number of working elephants being used in the timber trade (815 in Sagaing Division alone). At a launch event to mark International Statistics Day in Naypyidaw, Minister for National Planning and Economic Development Dr. Kan Zaw admitted that quantitative data was at present in “short supply” in Burma, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar “He added that collecting data about what Myanmar’s society may look like in 2020 will prove extremely useful in planning for the future,” the state-run newspaper reported. Local and international businesses will likely be most interested in the details provided about the economic conditions in the country.
Manila port congestion ‘very likely’ to recur – gov’t study PortCalls Asia 10th Nov 2015
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies in its latest economic policy monitor report titled “Effective Regulations for Sustainable Growth” said the Manila port congestion problem last year escalated “due to lack of rigorous analysis of policy options and lack of proper coordination with stakeholders” and that it would likely recur due to growing cargo volume. Photo courtesy of Manila International Container Terminal operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. The congestion at the Port of Manila in 2014 sharply demonstrated the extent of damage that poorly planned and badly coordinated policymaking can inflict on the Philippine economy, according to a government think tank. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), in its latest economic policy monitor report titled “Effective Regulations for Sustainable Growth”, said the congestion problem last year escalated “due to lack of rigorous analysis of policy options and lack of proper coordination with stakeholders” and that it would likely recur due to growing cargo volume.
Manila ports to soon allow automatic TABS booking for paid cargoes PortCalls Asia 9th Nov 2015
Shipments that have registered with the online cargo release system (OLRS) and have paid terminal and shipping charges are soon to get automatic booking under the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) at Manila ports. This development follows the signing on November 7 of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Manila South Harbor operator Asian Terminals Inc, the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Aduana Business Club, Inc. (ABCI). The MOU orders ATI to “confer with its system developer (1-Stop) and ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services, Inc.) on opportunities to modify its TABS on or before 9 November 2015 to allow automatic booking upon registration with the OLRS and payment of arrastre, wharfage, storage and shipping line charges.”
BoC expects modernization bills passed into law by year’s end Business World 8th Nov 2015
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) is anticipating the passage of a measure allowing upgrades to its charter by the end of the year as the country gears towards regional economic integration. A new Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) is pending before Congress which aims to upgrade Customs systems and automate transactions in a bid to better curb smuggling while fast-tracking import procedures. “The CMTA at the House has been approved on third reading. In the Senate, it’s drawing closer. I hope it can be finished, undergo a (bicameral conference), then be signed into law... I think it might be the President’s Christmas gift to us,” Customs Commissioner Alberto D. Lina told reporters last week in Filipino. “I think it will be smooth sailing.” “We really need that so that we can apply it in time for the ASEAN [Integration]. We have already committed so it’s a matter of complying.”
Customs braces for another month of missed target Business World 8th Nov 2015
Customs collections likely remained off-target by more than a fourth last month, according to preliminary data the bureau released to journalists late last week. The Bureau of Customs (BoC) raked in about P31.8 billion in October, 26% short of a P43-billion target. Year-to-date, Customs collections stood at P299 billion. The bureau has been reeling from lower collections on oil imports, which contribute nearly a fifth to the bureau’s total take, as world oil prices that were halved from a year ago until September barely recovered in October. Twelve of 17 Customs port collectors in the country were unable to meet collection targets as of the third week of October, the bureau said in a statement, while adding that it expects some recovery in collections as Christmas nears. “We expect a significant increase... from the ongoing influx of shipments for the holidays,” the statement read.
Customs sets more stringent import valuations to stem revenue decline The Philippine Star 8th Nov 2015
The Bureau of Customs will implement a rigorous valuation system for goods imported into the country to arrest the decline in its monthly collections. In a statement, the bureau said it was undertaking a stringent valuation method for certain imported products such as oil, rice and steel amid the continued downward trend in import prices globally. Low prices result into low valuations. The BOC has consistently missed its monthly collection targets this year. In September, the agency, which accounts for a fifth of state revenues, collected P32.65 billion, down 0.8 percent from last year’s P32.9 billion. It also fell more than a fifth its monthly goal of P41.11 billion. This brought total collections for January to September to P268.23 billion, up 0.9 percent year on year. The amount, however, was way below the bureau’s P314.17 billion target for the nine-month period.
Online payment system soon to be adopted in Manila port Business Mirror 7th Nov 2015
Companies or individuals who do business at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) can soon make all port-related payments online that aims to facilitate trade transactions. The MICT is preparing to implement the second phase of the ACTS Billing System, that allows customers to pay their port charges online. “This will soon give you an option to transact remotely and to no longer require coming to the port,” MICT told port users in an advisory. Launched in April, the billing system enhances the customer payment experience by cutting the procedure into five quick and easy steps. Self-service kiosks are provided at the billing lounge, where processors can now lodge in all shipment details and get their queuing numbers. Once number is up, they simply go to teller to pay and get their receipts and gate passes.
E-customs system helpful to businesses: survey VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
The Japanese-supported e-customs system VNACCS/VCIS is highly accurate and helps businesses save time, manpower and expenses, as viewed by a majority of companies in a recent survey. Au Anh Tuan, Deputy Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs’ Customs Control and Supervision Management Department, revealed the information at a meeting to garner businesses’ feedback on the system in Hanoi on November 3. The survey was conducted on about 500 companies operating in different industries like processing, manufacturing and logistics to learn about hindrances to the implementation of the Vietnam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System and the Vietnam Customs Information System (VNACCS/VCIS), he said.
Customs chief eyes weighing of import cargo inside ports, truck registration with BOC Business Mirror 30th Oct 2015
Customs Commissioner Alberto D. Lina also wants cargoes to undergo x-ray right after they are unloaded from a vessel. Lina said he will soon issue a memo that requires terminal operators to weigh import containers within the port before their discharge. At the same time, he announced plans to require trucks to register with the Bureau of Custom come January 2016. During the Government and Private Sector Coordinating Conference on Port Area Traffic Management on October 14, Lina agreed with the suggestion of truckers to have import containers that are subject to weighing mandatorily weighed within the terminals, and not by the roadside.
Sept. customs collections down Manila Standard Today 29th Oct 2015
The Bureau of Customs said Thursday collection in September fell 0.8 percent to P32.65 billion from P32.91 billion year-on-year due to lower oil prices. The figure is also 21 percent short of the P41.1-billion target for the month. Total value of importation in September decreased 5.4 percent while volume grew 20.5 percent. Non-oil revenues climbed 11.3 percent to P26.59 billion while collections from petroleum products decreased 33 percent to P6 billion. Revenues in the nine-month period rose 0.9 percent to P268.23 billion, but were 14.6 percent, or P45.942 billion, short of the target of P314.171 billion. Non-oil collections from January to September increased 13.2 percent year-on-year to P218.85 billion. Both volume and imports rose 16 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
Excise tax collections up 16% in 9 months The Philippine Star 28th Oct 2015
Government’s excise tax collections went up 16 percent in the first nine months from a year ago level, data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue showed. Total excise tax collections from all sin products amounted to P90.98 billion from January to September, up P12.61 billion from P78.37 billion in the same period last year. BIR revenue from excise taxes slapped on tobacco products went up 18 percent to P61.35 billion from P51.83 billion recorded last year. Excise taxes gathered from fermented liquors, meanwhile, rose 14 percent to P20.27 billion from P17.82 billion. The tax agency also saw taxes collected from distilled spirits rising by seven percent to P9.35 billion as of September from P8.71 billion in the same period in 2014.
Importers warned over vague declaration Business World 28th Oct 2015
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has flagged several importers for failing to provide detailed descriptions for goods brought into the country. In its latest Customs Watch ad published in newspapers yesterday, the bureau pointed out four foreign firms who failed to comply with the government’s rule covering import declarations. Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 28-2007 requires all companies to provide detailed descriptions of imported articles for the government to impose the right taxes. “Importers are required to describe import entries in sufficient detail to enable articles to be identified under the proper tariff classification,” the notice reads. “Do importers follow this rule?” Based on their import declarations for August, four firms only made use of one-word descriptions for their product shipments, against other companies who provided the full physical characteristics.
Lawmakers, former Customs head push pre-shipment inspection of import cargo The Philippine Star 27th Oct 2015
The passage of a proposed measure that seeks to modernize and align the country’s customs procedures with global best practices has hit a snag as lawmakers are in a bind over the Advance Customs Clearance provision of the bill. The Customs and Modernization and Tarifff Act, which was passed by the Lower House in third reading, faces uncertain future with lawmakers at loggerheads over a provision that calls for a voluntary pre-shipment inspection for all containerized cargoes. Some lawmakers have expressed concern over a proposal to revive pre-shipment inspection for Philippine-bound shipments, saying this could become another burden to legitimate businesses in the country. Buhay party list Rep. Lito Atienza, who sponsored the inclusion of the advance customs clearance provision in the CMTA, clarified the pre-shipment inspection scheme is voluntary and therefore the business sector has a choice.
Manila domestic port to adopt container booking system in 2016 PortCalls Asia 26th Oct 2015
Port operator Manila North Harbour Port, Inc. (MNHPI) will roll out the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS), along with other automation projects, at Manila’s domestic port next year. MNHPI chief executive officer Richard Barclay, on the sidelines of the Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia (PASIA) Annual Conference on October 22, told PortCalls the company is discussing with Australian IT company 1-Stop Connections Pty Ltd the adoption of TABS at the Manila North Harbor by the end of the first quarter of 2016. 1-Stop Connections earlier implemented TABS, an online system that enables port stakeholders to select time slots for delivering and withdrawing cargoes at Manila’s two international terminals, the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and Manila South Harbor.
Constitutional limits hampering PH’s TPP bid Philippine Daily Inquirer 23rd Oct 2015
The Philippines’ bid to join the newly-minted Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement may be hampered by provisions in the Constitution, particularly the restrictions on foreign ownership, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Monday. Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said the Philippines was aware of the possible high level commitments that the United States-led landmark deal will require. He said current limitations in the Constitution may not be in line with the TPP’s thrust. He said the Philippines remained highly interested in being part of the deal, but there were concerns over the challenging chapters in the TPP. These include provisions on intellectual property rights, government procurement, and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which the country must resolve if and when it enters negotiations with member countries. Article 7 of the Constitution provides that foreigners are prohibited from owning more than 40 percent of businesses and real properties in the country.
Singapore introduces handbook on rules of origin for FTAs PortCalls Asia 9th Nov 2015
In a recent advisory, Singapore Customs announced the release on its website of a new handbook on specific rules of origin (ROOs) as they apply to various free trade agreements (FTAs) to which the city state is a signatory. The notice dated November 6, 2015 advises manufacturers and traders that transact with the agency to refer to the newly launched guide “Rules of Origin for Preferential Certificates of Origin” to help them understand the ROOs of various FTAs to which Singapore is a member. “As a registered manufacturer with Singapore Customs, you are required to ensure that there is a valid ‘Verification of Cost Statement’ letter or ‘Letter of Acknowledgement’ letter for the product before you submit an application through TradeNet® to apply for a Certificate of Origin (CO),” the advisory, issued by Goh Yeow Meng, head of the Tariffs and Trade Services Branch of Singapore Customs, stated.
Upgraded China-Singapore FTA The Straits Times 7th Nov 2015
Singapore businesses can look forward to greater protection for their investments in China, fewer barriers to investing in China and more access to China's services sector. This will be the outcome once both countries conclude talks on the review of the current China-Singapore free trade agreement (CSFTA) , targeted for next year. Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang exchanged letters with his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng on Saturday to officially start talks to broaden the scope of the pact first signed in 2008. "A forward-looking, substantive and comprehensive upgrade of the CSFTA will enhance support for ongoing and future collaborations between Singapore and China," said Mr Lim.
Time to face harsh reality on trade Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2015
With its economy faltering, Thailand seems to have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Caught off guard by the world's economic slowdown, falling oil and farm prices, and the weak currencies of certain trade partners, Thailand now faces mounting protective requirements and non-tariff measures from several importing countries. They centre on accusations of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, human trafficking, child labour and mistreating animals, with the latest allegation that monkeys are being exploited on coconut plantations.
Shippers expect 2016 exports to grow by 2% Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2015
Exporters have an optimistic view for 2016, predicting resumed growth of 2% after shipments fell in each of the last three years The Thai National Shippers’ Council projects exports to reach US$220 billion in 2016, as government policies to restructure the economy and trade strategies bring fruitful results. The council predicts a contraction of 5% for exports in 2015, with total value of $216 billion, according to chairman Nopporn Thepsithar. He said Thai exporters should closely monitor external risk as the global economy might recover slower than anticipated because of the adjustment of the global financial system to the New Normal. Regional conflicts and natural disasters are also factors that could affect global economic recovery and Thai exports, Mr Nopporn said.
Prayut trade pacts decision next month Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2015
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called the first meeting of the International Trade Development Committee to tackle tepid Thai exports. The premier will declare Thailand's official stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the meeting, scheduled for Dec 9. His announcement will dictate Thailand's economic and trade development for the next five years. Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee said the committee's first meeting will gather information and suggestions about Thai exports raised by the private sector during the "Prime Minister Meets CEOs" series.
Somkid: Japan to help Thailand join TPP Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2015
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Monday that Japan has pledged its support in helping Thailand join a US-led Pacific trade accord. Mr Somkid said he had been given the assurance during a meeting with Hiroto Izumi, special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and added that he is now keen to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite domestic opposition. Among the fears being expressed in Thailand is higher medicine prices, which result from intellectual-property rights protection under the TPP agreement. "Japan is willing to support Thailand to enter the TPP," Mr Somkid said. "Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn was assigned to look into the matter. However, those internal obstacles also need to be tackled gradually.
US 'welcomes' Thailand to join TPP Bangkok Post 31st Oct 2015
The United States “would welcome with open arms” Thailand’s ruling junta wanting the country to participate in the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact without waiting for the return of a full democratic government to the country, the newly appointed US ambassador to Thailand said on Friday. But the normalisation of relations with its partner and ally of more than a century will only take place after an elected civilian government is installed, Glyn Davies told the Bangkok Post. “If they are interested, all they have to do is pick up the phone and knock on the door. We are ready to talk about it,” said the 58-year-old career diplomat, referring to the 12-nation free trade agreement, which was agreed by Asia-Pacific trade negotiators earlier this month. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who received a courtesy call from Mr Davies on Thursday, has said Thailand has until 2017 to carefully consider if it is necessary to join the TPP, whose combined economic activity accounts for 40% of the global economy.
PM urges caution on Thailand joining TPP Bangkok Post 24th Oct 2015
Thailand will carefully consider if it is necessary to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backed by the United States, as the country is in talks regarding another major trade pact involving China, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says. Speaking during his weekly televised address on Friday night, Gen Prayut said the Commerce Ministry recently invited representatives from three major private sector organisations to discuss the impact of the TPP which comprises 12 countries. The private organisations are the Thai Bankers' Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Thai Industries. The ministry said the organisations agreed that Thailand should join the TPP as it would benefit the country, particularly in terms of investment, despite the fact that some business operators harboured concerns over the impact on some goods exports, Gen Prayut said.
Vietnam firms expect Customs improvements Customs Today 4th Nov 2015
Businesses expect further improvements in customs clearance to promote management efficiency while creating convenience in cross border trade, a conference heard yesterday. Held by the General Department of Customs, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and USAID’s Governance for Inclusive Growth Programme, the conference aimed to review the Viet Nam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (VNACCS/VCIS) after one and a half years in operation and listen to the opinions of firms to improve the system. According to Dao Thi Thu Thuy from the General Department of Customs, a survey of more than 300 businesses revealed that 95 per cent of them were satisfied and very satisfied with the automated customs clearance system. A representative from Brother Industries Viet Nam said that the system helped save time, human resource and money spent in customs declaration, estimated to save around 100 hours and more than US$12,000 per month for his company.
Ratification of Vietnam-EU free trade pact to take two years Tuoi Tre News 2nd Nov 2015
It will take all the member states of the European Union (EU) about two years to ratify the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, an EU ambassador said in a recent press meeting in Hanoi. "This is an important time for leaders of those EU members to prepare for the implementation process," Bruno Angelet, the new ambassador and head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said at the meeting on Wednesday. On August 4 Vietnam and the EU reached agreement in principle for a free trade pact after concluding three years of negotiations, with a view to ensuring an effective environment for trade and investment relations. However, this does not mean that dialogue will stop, as there is a lot of work to do in the two-year period, Angelet said. This will be the time for all 28 member states to finalize all related legal and technical issues, and enable all parties to fully understand the rights and obligations related to the accord, he added. All EU member states have longed for the finalization of the deal, which is expected to create a new wave of investment in Vietnam, especially from high-quality and high value-added resources in the EU, he said. The group wants to promote investment cooperation between its member states and Vietnam, and lauded the Southeast Asian country's role in the cooperation between the EU and ASEAN, Angelet added “We have the political will to enable the accord to be signed and ratified,” local news website VnExpress quoted the ambassador as saying.
Tien Sa port set for major upgrade VietnamPlus 29th Oct 2015
Da Nang port, the largest in central Vietnam, will invest 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD) for the second phase upgrade of Tien Sa port in the second quarter next year. Chairman of Da Nang Port Company Nguyen Thu told Vietnam News that the upgrade was aimed at raising the port's standards to an international level in the coming years. "We have raised funds ourselves and via shareholders for the second phase of Tien Sa port's upgrade in the 2016-18 period. The port was designed to handle 14 million tonnes of cargo, including 800,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit), in 2025," Thu said. "We decided not to use Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds for the port, and hope to accelerate the construction process to begin operations soon," he said.
Vietnam mulls new import tariff on alloy steel after fraud warning Voice of Vietnam 27th Oct 2015
The Ministry of Finance is considering changing a tax regulation following concerns that the rule has been abused by Chinese exporters to ship a large amount of steel to Vietnam without paying duties. Currently imported steel with at least 0.3% of chrome content will be exempt from tarriffs, but the ministry wants to introduce a 10% tax. The proposal is now awaiting feedback from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and other relevant agencies. It came after the Vietnam Steel Association voiced concerns over strong increases in Chinese-imported alloy steel billets recently. Chinese exporters claim their products contain 0.3%-0.4% chrome content, thus getting import duty exemption under Vietnam's existing laws, the association said.
EVFTA opportunities for Vietnamese businesses Voice of Vietnam 26th Oct 2015
On October 26, Ho Chi Minh City hosted a seminar discussing future opportunities and challenges for local administrations and businesses as a result of the signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). Those in attendance included Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung, Ambassador and head of the EU delegation to Vietnam Bruno Angelet, and President of the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam Nicola Connoly. European and Vietnamese experts proposed specific measures to increase the awareness and ability of local administrations and businesses, who will play a decisive role in implementing the agreement.
Vietnam seafood businesses look forward to TPP Than Nien News 23rd Oct 2015
With nearly half of their exports going to the 11 other countries that are set to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Vietnam, seafood businesses have become the latest supporters of the controversial and secretive free trade agreement. In its recent analysis of the likely impacts of the TPP, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said local seafood exporters would benefit since the signatories are set to reduce or eliminate 90 percent of import taxes.
Vietnam plans cargo limit to divert ships from HCMC to underutilised Cai Mep-Thi Vai Seatrade Maritime News 22nd Oct 2015
Vietnam Maritime Administration will submit a plan to the transport ministry relating to the diversion of cargoes from the congested Ho Chi Minh City port to the underutilised Cai Mep-Thi Vai deepwater port complex. The plan proposes to limit the amount of goods that can pass through ports in Ho Chi Minh City, hence diverting some ships to the larger, nearby port complex. The plan will then be handed to the National Assembly for approval, according to Bui Thien Thu, deputy chief of Vietnam Maritime Administration, cited by Saigon Times Online. He said the transport ministry has been trying to encourage shipping lines to move to Cai Mep-Thi Vai, Vietnam’s largest port complex opened in May 2009, but severely underutilised due mainly to the lack of connecting hinterland facilities.
VN reconsiders trade laws to aid integration Viet Nam News 22nd Oct 2015
Lawmakers yesterday heard a report on the draft revised law on export and import tariffs at the 10th session of the 13th National Assembly presented by Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung. According to the report, participants agreed on the need to revise the law to create a complete and synchronous legal framework. The law's revision will stimulate production development and exports and be in line with the integration process. This will also make the law more transparent and create conditions for socio-economic development. The revised draft law comprises 22 Clauses grouping 5 chapters including common regulations; tax calculation basis and time, and tariff; anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard duties; tax exemption and reduction, and refund; and execution clauses. According to the Finance Minister, one of the main revised contents of the draft law is the encouragement and protection of domestic production and trading in accordance with development orientations of Viet Nam's international commitments. The draft law also upgrades and supplements some regulations on anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard taxes to protect local production from the negative impacts of integration. Chapter 3 adds provisions on conditions, principles, jurisdiction and time limits to apply the above duties on the basis of inheriting regulations in three current ordinances. Clause 15 says that in case Viet Nam's benefits in international treaties are compromised, the Government will ask the National Assembly to apply other suitable safeguard tax measures.