|Multilateral Trade Agreements
Details of a massive trade deal among 11 heavyweight economies may be announced next month CNBC 17th Oct 2017
Ten months after President Donald Trump abandoned what was pegged as the world's biggest trade deal, its surviving participants may be close to a new agreement. Details of a new Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty could emerge next month at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, meeting — the agreed upon deadline by the accord's remaining participants. There's "a reasonable chance" that leaders will actually sign a piece of paper in November or say they will sign one, Alan Bollard, executive director at the APEC Secretariat, told CNBC on Tuesday. For months, the eleven members, known as TPP-11, have held talks on how to keep their vision of a free-trade bloc alive without the United States. But tensions between countries have stalled progress — Vietnam and Malaysia, in particular, have voiced concerns now that broad access to U.S. markets is off the table.
Asia trade talks stall as TPP bounces back from Trump's blow Bloomberg 21st Sep 2017
As negotiators race to wrap up a 16-nation Asia trade pact they face a new and unexpected threat -- momentum in a rival trade deal that nine months ago appeared doomed. When President Donald Trump abandoned the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership shortly after taking office, nations turned their focus to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Now, remaining TPP members are making a concerted effort to resurrect that deal, while progress stalls on the RCEP. The goal of an agreement by end-year on the RCEP, which includes China, India and Japan, but not the U.S., won’t be met, according to its chief negotiator. Still, for Iman Pambagyo the bigger concern is some RCEP members may exit the deal to prioritize the TPP, a pact that doesn’t include China and was seen as a hedge against its growing clout in Asia.
Does an ASEAN agreement mean progress for RCEP? The Diplomat 15th Sep 2017
ASEAN economic ministers have reportedly broadly agreed to sharply reduce barriers on almost all of their product lines in a bid to make the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement a reality. Though this might represent an incremental step forward in dramatically lifting trade within an area boasting almost 40 percent of global GDP, familiar challenges still remain. According to the Philippine Trade Secretary, Ramon Lopez, Southeast Asian ministers have agreed on a few key points as they look to make progress on RCEP, which has gained even more traction following the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Lopez said nations that sign up for the free trade agreement should commit to remove barriers on at least 92 per cent of their product lines over five to ten years. He said all ten ASEAN members have signed up to this, and anything less would be unacceptable.
US-ASEAN end consultations Global Trade Magazine 22nd Sep 2017
Consultations between the ten ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the United States Trade Representative were held last week in Pasay City, Philippines. The consultations were co-chaired by Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, and Barbara Weisel, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Two-way merchandise trade between ASEAN and the US continues to grow. In 2016, merchandise trade reached $211.8 billion, which accounted for 9.5 percent of ASEAN’s total trade. That made the US the third largest trading partner of ASEAN, according to ASEAN statistics. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from the US to ASEAN amounted to $11.7 billion in 2016, placing the US as ASEAN’s third largest external source of FDI. For the United States, ASEAN is the fourth largest trading partner.
Asean a model for IP cooperation The Straits Times 21st Sep 2017
It is often taken for granted that robust intellectual property laws are fundamental to the success of innovation. In contrast, it is not widely acknowledged that relationships between nations also play a critical role. Fractious ties between nations are not conducive to the effective development and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) laws. A stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership, or even Brexit, can be harmful to progress on multilateral initiatives. In the near term, harmonisation is off the table. Achieving interoperability in IP the "Asean way" may be more realistic as a new paradigm for strengthening international relations. The Asean way involves cooperation, non-interference and mutual respect for national sovereignty to pursue diverse priorities, and at the same time, a desire to move forward together in a cooperative manner while giving due recognition to the different levels of development. This is the subject of our new book International Intellectual Property And The Asean Way: Pathways To Interoperability.
e-Commerce boosts China-ASEAN trade Live Trading News 15th Sep 2017
An increasing number of companies in ASEAN are seeing e-Commerce as a new growth engine for China-ASEAN trade. e-Commerce giants are also trying to tap into a market with a population of about 2-B and growing purchasing power. “China and ASEAN has great potential for cooperation in e-commerce,” says Qian Keming, China’s vice minister of commerce, on the sidelines of an Expo that ran from Tuesday to Friday in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Many Chinese e-Commerce companies have already launched campaigns in ASEAN, improving bi-lateral trade.
Asean unites on illegal wildlife trade Bangkok Post 14th Sep 2017
Authorities from 10 Asean members and China have pledged to join forces to combat the illegal wildlife trade. The authorities in charge of suppressing the trade announced Wednesday their commitment to crack down on it in Asia at the three-day 4th Regional Dialogue on Combating Trafficking of Wild Fauna and Flora hosted by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. About 100 representatives from Asean countries, China and international organisations such as USAID Wildlife Asia, Interpol and the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) attended the conference, which ends Friday.
Hong Kong and ASEAN conclude Free Trade Agreement negotiations Hong Kong 12th Sep 2017
Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced today (September 9) the conclusion of the negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and a related Investment Agreement.The announcement was made at the 2nd ASEAN Economic Ministers-Hong Kong, China Consultations (AEM-HKC Consultations), co-chaired by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, and the Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, Mr Ramon Lopez, in Pasay City, the Philippines. Economic Ministers or their representatives of the ASEAN Member States also attended the meeting.
New MoU with Thailand on trade across the borders Khmer Times 20th Oct 2017
Cambodia and Thailand will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cross-border trade in early November to comply with Thailand’s new customs law, which is due to come into effect on November 13. The announcement of the new MoU comes after the prime ministers of both nations, meeting during the Third Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat in September, agreed to increase efforts to boost cross-border trade, attract more investment and reach $15 billion in bilateral trade by 2020. The announcement was made by Kun Nhem, the director of Cambodia’s General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), who last week led a trade delegation to Bangkok to meet his Thai counterparts and negotiate the details of the agreement on cross-border trade.
Brands offered “unique opportunity” to engage with Cambodian government to help shape country's IP system World Trademark Review 28th Sep 2017
In an exclusive interview with World Trademark Review, Ainsley Jong, goodwill ambassador for the Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCC), has called on international brands to engage with the Cambodian government to help shape the country’s brand protection environment. The invitation comes at a time of booming economic growth, with more companies expected to enter the market in the coming years. Cambodia has experienced a prolonged period of economic expansion, with growth of 6.8% expected this year and 6.9% in 2018. In terms of brand activity, however, Jong notes that “a lot of companies have not historically had an eye on Cambodia, perhaps because traditionally it was seen as a small developing market and therefore wasn’t on their radar. But Cambodia is now experiencing a lot of growth, with more investment expected – for example, through China’s ‘One Belt, One Road,’ initiative. So we are now seeing major brands start to tiptoe into Cambodia, particularly now the middle class is getting bigger”.
Discrepancies in Cambodian sand exports spark fraud allegations VOA 14th Sep 2017
An environmental group is highlighting discrepancies in Cambodian government data on exports of silica sand to Taiwan, in what the group's founder suggests may be a case of tax avoidance and economic fraud. Exports of another type of sand to Singapore were investigated after the same group exposed similar discrepancies in trade figures with that country last year. In a posting on its Facebook page late Monday, the group Mother Nature cited data from Taiwan's Customs Administration showing imports of 1.5 million tons of silica and quartz sand from Cambodia valued at more than $32 million between 2012 and 2016.
Cambodia has sole objective for US Phnom Penh Post 13th Sep 2017
Cambodia intends to submit a petition to the United States government to extend the duty-free privileges of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme to include footwear, giving local manufacturers a competitive advantage in the world’s biggest consumer market. But hopes are dimming as the submission deadline approaches and a bill proposing the exemption fails to make traction in the US Congress. The GSP Footwear Act of 2017, which was introduced to the US House of Representatives in May, proposes broadening the annual renewal of the GSP programme to include footwear for the first time since the trade privilege scheme was introduced in 1976. If passed, the act would allow certain footwear products from selected countries with Least Developed Country (LDC) status to enter the United States duty-free.
Cambodia lags Asean peers in eliminating tariffs Phnom Penh Post 12th Sep 2017
More than 96 percent of tariffs in Asean have been eliminated, but certain parts of the 10-nation economic bloc including Cambodia lag behind others in full implementation of the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga), the Ministry of Commerce said in a Facebook post yesterday.
GMAC urges Cambodian govt to offset rising labour costs Fibre2Fashion 9th Oct 2017
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) recently urged the government to help export-oriented manufacturers reduce the cost of conducting business to offset a higher minimum wage and workers benefit package due to be implemented from January 1. It requested the government to consider cutting the export management fee by half.
WCO supports Indonesian Customs to strengthen its IPR border enforcement World Customs Organization 21st Sep 2017
With the sponsorship of the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF Japan), a WCO National Workshop on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy was held for Indonesian Customs in Jakarta from 11 to 15 September 2017. The Workshop was attended by 21 Customs participants involved in IPR border enforcement. Resource speakers from the Asia/Pacific Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB A/P), China Customs and Japan Customs shared their knowledge and practices with the participants and facilitated the discussions.
Government mulls increasing ceiling on import taxes The Jakarta Post 19th Sep 2017
The government is considering to increase the ceiling for import taxes on goods purchased in other countries by travelers, currently US$250 for individuals and $1,000 per family. The issue has sparked public debate following a report about a traveler who had to pay $408 to customs officer at an airport for a bag he bought in Singapore, went viral on social media.
New Provision on Payment Postponements for Customs-and-Excise Duty Hukum Online 2nd Oct 2017
The Ministry of Finance (“Minister”) has issued Regulation No. 122/PMK.04/2017 on Payment Postponements for Import- and Export-Duty Debt and/or Administrative Sanctions in the Form of Fines (“Regulation 122/2017”)
Govt. tightens import provisions for iron, steel, alloy steel and their derivative products Hukum 15th Sep 2017
In order to introduce stricter import provisions for iron, steel, alloy steel and their derivative products (“Products”), the Ministry of Trade (“Ministry”) has issued Regulation No. 63/M-DAG/PER/8/2017 (“Regulation 63/2017”), which amends Ministry Regulation No. 82/M-DAG/PER/12/2016 on Import Provisions for Iron, Steel, Alloy Steel and Their Derivative Products (“Regulation 82/2016”)...
Laos customs officials undergo risk-based passenger selectivity training Asia Customs & Trade 6th Oct 2017
A total of 29 Laos Customs officers recently participated in a World Customs Organization Airport Compliance and Enforcement Officer workshop. The training is underpinned by enhancing risk management capabilities with a particular focus on risk-based passenger selectivity. Participants examine the elements of risk assessment, profiling and targeting, together with use of information and intelligence. Specific techniques covered include verbal and non-verbal risk assessment, questioning methodologies and systematic examination procedures for small items, hand baggage, checked baggage and search of persons. The program is mostly practical and topics are delivered through many individual and group tasks, simulation exercises and role- plays.
Laos’ first dry port moves forward to world connectivity Eleven Myanmar 3rd Oct 2017
Operated by the Savan Logistics Company Limited, Laos’ first dry port at the Savan Park Zone C in the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone is now closer to becoming a regional trans-shipment hub between Asean and China via existing linkages to regional ports. In this strategic geographical location, the country’s first Dry Port/Inland Container Depot is now connecting Laos to the world by linking with the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) between Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, mid-way between the nearest Vietnamese seaport of Danang and Thai ports in Bangkok and Laem Chabang.
Support for move to tax digital economy The Star Online 5th Oct 2017
The government’s proposal to tax the digital economy is a step in the right direction, says World Bank Group representative and country manager for Malaysia Faris Hadad-Zervos. Tax imposition on the digital economy will allow diversification of the government’s revenue sources, aside from creating more buffers for an improved fiscal management. “For Malaysia to sustain its economic momentum, it is important to have broad-based growth, buttressed by diversified sources of income for the government.
Malaysia’s customs, revenue collecting agency to co-audit all firms Asia Customs & Trade 21st Sep 2017
The Royal Malaysian Customs Department and the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) will jointly undertake an audit of all companies in Malaysia in an effort to effectively plug leakages in the system that have resulted in the government being shortchanged in revenue collection. Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said the audit will be conducted by officers from the customs department and the IRB, beginning with companies in Klang Valley, before expanding the operations nationwide, according to a report by The Star. He said the joint program will increase the effectiveness of the audit process by allowing the agencies to share information, including on companies which under-declare their corporate income and avoid paying the goods and services tax.
Customs Dept to be corporatised by January, says Treasury Sec-Gen Malaymail Online 18th Sep 2017
The Customs Department may be corporatised by January next year, after a delay due to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), said Treasury Secretary General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah. "It's in the process as we speak. By January 2018, I hope we will have a corporatised Customs Department," he said at the GST Conference 2017 here today. On March 13 this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was reported as saying the corporatisation was the government’s reward to the department due to its excellent performance, adding that the staff will also enjoy a better service scheme.
CPO export duty raised to 6% from 5.5% effective October 1: Malaysian Customs Platts 18th Sep 2017
The Malaysian Royal Customs Department has raised the export duty rate on CPO to 6% from 5.5%, effective October 1, in an announcement late Friday on the Malaysian Palm Oil Board website. The average Malaysian CPO price for October was announced at MR2,754.18/mt ($657.59/mt) by the Customs department, which falls into the 6% export duty bracket. The September average CPO price was set at MR2,677.91/mt by the Customs Department.
Customs officers hold dialogue with local businessmen BorneoPost 16th Sep 2017
An annual dialogue between the Customs Department and private sector was held at Wisma Kastam here on Tuesday. The dialogue was chaired by its deputy director general (customs and GST) Datuk Paddy Abdul Halim and vice-president of Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry(KCGCCI) Dr Christopher Ngui as the co-chairman. Goods and Services Tax (GST)- related issues and opinions were mentioned by the representatives during the dialogue and discussed effectively.
Thai PM supports Malaysia’s proposal for better port connectivity The Star 15th Sep 2017
Malaysia’s proposal for a better connectivity between Songkhla Port in southern Thailand and Penang Port has received a thumbs-up from Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. The premier said both countries would intensify discussions on the matter as it could be of mutual benefit. “We share the border, so, I think we should be joining hands. We should develop our economy together through increased connectivity such as our sea ports, customs borders and investment on both sides,” he told the media at the Government House in Bangkok on September 15.
Strategic Trade (Amendment) Act 2017 Lexology 13th Sep 2017
Following the publication of the Strategic Trade (Amendment) Act 2017 (Amending Act) in the Federal Gazette on 21 June 2017, the Malaysian Government has appointed 8 September 2017 as the date on which the changes effected under the Amending Act have come into operation.
M'sia continues to play active role in Asean non-tariff barriers issues NST Online 12th Sep 2017
Long standing issues related to non- tariff barriers (NTB) and non-tariff measures (NTM) – a bane to the regional economic integration process of the 10 Asean nations – will continue be championed by Malaysia. The International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said Malaysia continues to play an active role to resolve the issues. To date, out of the total 74 reported NTBs and NTMs, 54 cases have been resolved. Thanks to the Asean Solutions for Investments, Services, and Trade (ASSIST), an internet-based and business-friendly facility, enterprises are able to lodge complaints on any distortions.
GST: Spinning the web to catch digital services The Star 19th Oct 2017
In a recent press conference, director-general of Customs, Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam Tholasy, shared that the Royal Malaysian Customs Department has proposed amendments to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act to incorporate digital economy and e-commerce transactions.
Effective policy needed to tax income from digital advertisements The Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2017
Myanmar’s policy for taxing digital advertisements is lagging behind technology advancement in the country. Therefore, new policies enabling the collection of taxes from online and social media platforms should be implemented as soon as possible to raise the government’s revenue, officials from Internal Revenue Department and businessmen said. Facebook, which was introduced in Myanmar in late 2014, has since taken off and is now widely used as the country’s main social media platform. Due to its popularity, the volume of advertisements for goods and services on Facebook by businesses keen to engage the Myanmar audience has risen sharply. Yet, the IRD has not been able to levy taxes on the income generated by Facebook from those ads, they said.
Controlling imports in Myanmar Baker McKenzie 29th Sep 2017
After a period of noticeable inactivity, revised drafts of the trademark, design, patent, and copyright bills were submitted to parliament and consequently published for public review in late July and mid-August, prompting speculation that the bills will be passed sooner rather than later. We maintain, however, that any estimate on when the new laws will be passed remains tentative at best, and even then, details concerning how these laws will actually be implemented are even more uncertain. All said, there is still a great deal of uncertainty around the new laws and relying on existing legal options that are currently in place may be the more prudent approach.
ASEAN trade pact strengthens Myanmar’s ties with Australia, New Zealand The Myanmar Times 27th Sep 2017
THE free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand makes Myanmar products more competitive in the two biggest markets in Australasia, according to trade commissioners from Australia and New Zealand. There is a huge potential for trade to grow in the agriculture sector, as all three countries are rich in farms and fisheries. The FTA improves the efficiency, transparency and certainty in import-export processes. The AANZFTA seminar was held in Park Royal Hotel in Yangon on September 14. Shwe Sin Oo, deputy director of the Department of Trade under the Ministry of Commerce, presented an overview of certificates of origin and verification processes related to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). The Australian and New Zealand officials explained the specific trade opportunities which derive from the FTA.
Myanmar presents new trademark bill Lexology 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar has yet to produce its own specific legislation on trademarks. As a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), the nation is expected to deliver its IP laws in the near future to provide protection for trademarks, copyright, patents, and other intellectual property. From August 8-10, 2017, the draft of Myanmar’s Trade Mark Law has recently been published in newspapers for public comment. The bill is now being reviewed by the concerned Draft Law Committee of the Parliament – its approval is expected by the end of this year.
TradeNet to cover rice, 6 other goods The Manila Times 17th Oct 2017
The government’s online trade facilitation platform — expected to be rolled out this December — will initially cover seven goods that represent half of the Philippines’ total trade volume, the Finance department said. The TradeNet system will allow traders to apply for clearances covering rice, sugar, used motor vehicles, chemicals (toluene), frozen meat, medicines (for humans, animals or fish) and cured tobacco. TradeNet aims to minimize the costs of doing business and cut the processing time for import and export permits. It will also perform the functions of the country’s National Single Window (NSW). The NSW, which will be interconnected by December to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Single Window, is a regional initiative that aims to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of documents between the bloc’s 10 member-states. More goods will be added to the system once other agencies also link up with TradeNet, he said.
To avoid port congestion, PH Customs exempts certain shipments from red lane Asia Customs & Trade 13th Oct 2017
Starting October 12, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has spared several kinds of shipments from being tagged under the red lane, including those bound for Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) areas. The “purpose is to avoid congestion in our ports,” Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña told Asia Customs & Trade in a text message. He noted that a corresponding memorandum will be issued for the new directive. In addition to PEZA-bound shipments, BOC also exempted perishable/reefer shipments, except those coming from China; and importation of government agencies as well as multinationals from being tagged under the red lane. Such shipments will also no longer undergo x-ray examination and are automatically ordered for release.
PH customs tweaks rules to speed up handling of alerted shipments Asia Customs & Trade 12th Oct 2017
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has revised its rules on the issuance and lifting of alert orders in order to fast-track the process and mitigate corruption. Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña signed on October 9 Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 20-2017, amending several sections of CMO 35-2015, which provides the revised rules on electronic/manual issuance and lifting of alert orders at all ports of entry. The order was issued following Lapeña’s earlier statement that stakeholders should no longer be afraid of receiving alert orders because processing the alerts will be fast-tracked to facilitate trade and avoid corruption. He had noted that customs stakeholders feared getting alert orders because “it will take an eternity before (order) is lifted.”
Lapeña reshuffles customs officials Bureau of Customs 9th Oct 2017
Eight district collectors and 30 section chiefs of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have been relieved from their posts following the earlier pronouncement of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña that he will be relieving any officer who will disregard his marching order to stop corruption and benchmarking in their respective ports.
Customs suspends orders on balikbayan boxes PhilStar 7th Oct 2017
Amidst the criticisms among overseas Filipino workers on the guidelines in availing tax-exempt privileges, the Bureau of Customs has temporarily suspended the guidelines for the implementation of the duty and tax-free privilege of consolidated balikbayan boxes. Newly-appointed Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña in a statement said the BOC is receiving numerous complaints regarding the tedious requirements of the bureau for granting of duty and tax exemption. Lapeña stated the suspension of Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016, Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 04-2017, and the registration requirements of deconsolidators.
More PH shipments to go through red lane, all to undergo xray Asia Customs & Trade 6th Oct 2017
More container shipments will be classified under the Philippine Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) red lane selectivity system, with all of these shipments now required to undergo 100% x-ray inspection. Industry reaction to the new measure is varied, with some fearing a cargo buildup and port congestion and others saying the stricter safeguard is a “normal reaction” to prevent smuggling. In a memorandum dated September 26 and signed September 29, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the mandatory 100% x-ray inspection of all shipments directed to the red lane is designed to “safeguard the revenue collection efforts of the bureau” and is “part of the intensified campaign against smuggling and other forms of violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and other related laws.”
WB designing $200M modernization plan for PH customs Asia Customs & Trade 30th Sep 2017
The World Bank (WB) is preparing a project that aims to support the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) in enhancing its efficiency, effectiveness and transparency, and revenue collection. In its Project Information Document/Integrated Safeguards Data Sheet available on its website, the Washington-based lender said the Philippines Customs and Trade Facilitation Project (PCTFP) aims to support export-led economic growth by assisting BOC in reducing trade costs, improving transparency, and increasing revenue collection.
PH Customs orders strict enforcement of underguarding Asia Customs & Trade 26th Sep 2017
Philippine customs district collectors and office heads were reminded to stringently enforce underguarding of goods from the port of discharge to the destination customs bonded warehouses (CBWs). In a memorandum dated September 14, Bureau of Customs’ Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group (AOCG) deputy commissioner Atty. Edward James Dy Buco ordered all district collectors and chiefs of offices to strictly follow a customs memorandum order dated August 4, 1994 to underguard shipments consigned to CBWs. This, the customs executive said, is to protect the interest of the government as imported goods bound for CBWs are duty- and tax-free.
PH customs and trading rules made easy with new book Asia Customs & Trade 25th Sep 2017
Customs and trade expert Atty Agaton Uvero recently authored a book that explains Philippine customs and trading rules. “Understanding International Trade, Tariff and Customs” was launched at the Makati Shangri-La before guests from the customs, trade and logistics communities, including several former Customs commissioners. The book explains major provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) or Republic Act No. 10863 (An Act Modernizing the Customs and Tariff Administration). The CMTA updates the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) and overhauls Bureau of Customs (BOC) operations. It simplifies and harmonizes customs procedures, pushes for full customs automation, and aligns the TCCP with international standards and practices, ultimately making it easier for traders, importers and exporters to comply with border requirements. It was signed into law in May 2016.
PDEA to establish a built-in office inside BOC for swift coordination UNTV News 22nd Sep 2017
The recent congressional inquiry on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment seized in Valenzuela City has revealed the problem on coordination between the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). To address this, PDEA will set up built-in offices at the BOC, to ensure faster coordination between the two government agencies. The former NCR director of PDEA and current chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Wilkins Villanueva noted it will ensure that the two agencies can closely coordinate with each other in terms of intercepting illegal drug shipments.
PDEA files drug raps vs Faeldon for P6.4-B shabu Philstar Global 19th Sep 2017
Former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon faces a string of drug and criminal charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) after P6.4 billion worth of shabu slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) from China last May. In a 23-page complaint filed yesterday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) sought the indictment of Faeldon and 11 other BOC officers for conspiracy to import illegal drugs and for protecting or coddling drug traffickers – a violation under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. It also charged them with obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree 1829 for “harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape” of the persons behind the shabu shipment, and for negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code.
Turkey-Singapore FTA enters into force 1 October 2017 Lexology 18th Sep 2017
The Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) will enter into force on 1 October 2017. The TRSFTA consists of 18 numbered chapters and a separate Rules of Origin Protocol with annexes. With respect to goods, tariff preferences and duty rates are set forth in Chapter 2 and Annex 2-A. For entry into force, the following items originating from Turkey are eligible for preferential treatment tariff when imported from Turkey into Singapore under the TRSFTA: stout/porter, beer including ale, medicated samsu or other samsu (under the HS codes 22030010, 22030090, 22089010, 22089020, 22089030 and 22089040). The Customs duties for all other goods imported from Turkey into Singapore are already zero. Many Singapore originating goods will have phased in preference rates when imported into Turkey.
HMRC hires Singapore team to advise on ‘blue-sky’ customs upgrade Civil Service World 15th Sep 2017
The team that created a “one-stop-shop” system to streamline Singapore’s international trade arrangements has been hired by HM Revenue & Customs to advise on the potential to introduce a similar post-Brexit system for the UK. HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson said the creation of a “single window” for all import and export related interaction with government departments and agencies was a piece of “blue-sky thinking” the tax-collection agency was currently exploring as part of the Brexit process. Talking to MPs on the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, Thompson said that the department had looked at a range of different countries’ relationships with the EU and other nations as part of its exploration of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Email offering tax refunds a scam: Iras Today Online 12th Sep 2017
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) has warned the public against clicking on a scam email that promises tax refunds and is made to look like it came from the tax authority. The email, titled Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore-Refund-Online-Confirmation, has been circulating online, it said in a press release yesterday. Those who receive the email are told that they are eligible to receive a tax refund, and all they have to do is to click on a link provided to download and complete a form. The Iras warns online users not to respond to the email or click on the link. The authority says they should delete it and refrain from opening it. They should also scan their computers or mobile devices with anti-virus programmes.
Dept open to ideas on new Customs law The Nation 11th Oct 2017
Director-General of the Customs Department Kulit Sombatsiri yesterday met with members of foreign chambers of commerce and explained to them the new law, which will come into force on November 13. “From now on, we are changing ourselves from a trade regulator to a trade facilitator,” Kulit said. Under the new law, customs clearance for transit goods (goods transported to other countries via Thailand) will be completed within 30 days instead of 90 days, he said. Thailand has already reached an agreement with Laos on customs clearance of transit goods.
Growth of Thai SMEs hinges on streamlining customs The Nation 18th Sep 2017
The health of Thailand’s economy depends on the health of its small businesses. Small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) make up 98.5 per cent of Thailand’s businesses, and ecommerce SMEs contribute over 30 per cent of our total exports. To stay healthy, however, requires more than just greater digital capabilities; SMEs also need a more streamlined approach to customs and regulation if they want to grow globally.
To fight wildlife crime, experts say 'follow the money' San Francisco Chronicle 17th Sep 2017
In most cases, the conviction of a Thai man trafficking rhino horns through a bizarre scheme that involved hiring prostitutes to pose as trophy hunters would have marked the end of the story. But investigators took an unusual, next step — deciding to "follow the money" that helped bankroll the South African operation. That led to a court order last year to seize Chumlong Lemtongthai's Thai bank accounts and other assets, including a house worth $142,000, to shut him down.
Cigarettes, alcohol and sugary drinks to cost more in Thailand The Straits Times 17th Sep 2017
New excise taxes in Thailand have affected prices across industries ranging from beverages to cars, with the new tax regime causing higher prices for some items but lower prices for others. Thailand's Excise Department expects to collect additional tax revenue of 12 billion baht (S$487 million) from the changes. New excise taxes will cause "moderate" rises in the prices of alcoholic beverages, sugary drinks and cigarettes, the director general of the Excise Department, Somchai Poolsavasdi, said on Saturday (Sept 16).
Importation of Counterfeit Goods into Thailand Under the New Customs Act Lexology 14th Sep 2017
The new Customs Act, which was published in the Government Gazette will become effective on 13 November 2017. This Act will replace the current Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926) and its subsequent amendments. Key changes in the new Customs Act include provisions on the limitation period on post-clearance audit timelines, criminal penalties for offenses, presumed liability for company directors and/or authorized persons, the timeframe for consideration by the Appeals Committee, and many other points.
Customs orders tax collectors to declare assets Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2017
The Customs Department is requiring senior officials responsible for tax collection to declare their assets to the Finance Ministry in a bid to increase transparency. Targeted officials must declare their assets when their positions change, said director-general Kulit Sombatsiri. He said the requirement relies on the director-general's mandate and has nothing to do with the National Anti-Corruption Commission's law, which stipulates that high-ranking state officials and ministers declare their assets and liabilities when they receive a promotion or change positions.
Rejig set for 'zero duty' on Chinese EVs Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2017
The government plans to revise its free trade agreement (FTA) with China concerning a zero import duty for electric vehicles (EVs) as it affects its incentives to attract EV manufacturers to invest in Thailand, says the Customs Department. Kobsak Phutrakul, assistant minister to the Prime Minister's Office, will chair next week's meeting on revising the China-Thailand FTA to prevent it from affecting EV investment, said customs director-general Kulit Sombatsiri. The lack of an import duty will discourage other EV manufacturers who have higher tax liabilities, he said.
Customs claims B4bn in luxury car duties Bangkok Post 13th Sep 2017
The Customs Department will claim 4.2 billion baht in import duties for 250 luxury cars from importers as part of its effort to crack down on tax evasion. The 250 cars are among 300 luxury vehicles seized by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and examined by the Customs Department to determine if they were taxed correctly, said Chaiyut Kumkun, the department's spokesman. After the investigation, the department will require the importers to pay import duties worth 4.2 billion baht, he said.
Assigning Director of International Cooperation Department Customs News 23rd Oct 2017
In the morning of 20/10/2017, at the headquarter of General Department of Vietnam Customs, Deputy Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Cong Binh presided over the ceremony to announce the Decision 3389/QĐ-TCHQ dated 16/10/2017 of General Department of Vietnam Customs about the terminable assignment for Mr. Đao Đuc Hai, Deputy Director of Quang Ninh Customs Department to be new Director of International Cooperation Department, General Department of Customs since 16/10/2017. Deputy Director General Nguyen Cong Binh stressed that, in the context that the customs sector is decisively reformed modernization, improve management efficiency, especially the expansion of international relations, the missions and responsibilities of the Director of the International Cooperation Department are very important. Furthermore, Deputy Director General, as the new leader of the International Cooperation Department, the head of the unit must gather and maintain the unity in the unit in order to fulfil the political tasks which have been assigned by the General Department of Customs.
Customs and Border Guard collaborate to facilitate the border circulation Customs News 21st Oct 2017
Over past five years, General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) and the Border Guard Command have carried out synchronously professional measures to manage, protect the national border and ensure the security of the border areas. The two forces have maintained and performed well the inspection and control of entry and exit, export and import and implemented many essential, synchronous flexible solutions in administrative reform to simplify the Customs procedures, border guard procedures and creating favourable conditions for border circulation activities at border gates, contributing to boosting socio-economic development and international integration of the country. According to the Border Guard Command, in the past five years (from 2012 until now), the collaboration between Customs and Border Guard has played an important role as a basis for advising and proposing to the Party and the State in the management and protection of territorial sovereignty, control of national border security, successfully implementation of plans and budget revenue targets , also expanding foreign affairs and international integration of Vietnam.
Vietnam customs says drug runners shifting to airfreight Asia Customs & Trade 16th Oct 2017
More and more drug traffickers are turning to aviation to transport drugs in response to tighter security measures from local customs and police, customs officials of Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City in Vietnam said. Pham Quoc Hung, deputy director of HCM’s Customs Department, said transporting drugs as airfreight packages and by express delivery has increased from the beginning of the year as smugglers seek to circumvent customs inspections, according to a report from Vietnam News Agency. In the first nine months of the year, HCM City customs uncovered 14 cases of drug smuggling with a total of 28 kilograms of methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine. On September 19, customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM detected three suspicious-looking packages sent from the U.S. to northern Hai Phong City. They checked and found that the packages contained 7.3 kilos of marijuana flowers packed in vacuum nylon bags and hidden in a used box of raisins. They also discovered packages of drugs hidden inside clothes and personal belongings.
VN issues rules on customs handling of aircraft entry, exit info through NSW Asia Customs & Trade 9th Oct 2017
The Vietnamese government has released the rules on the customs processing via the National Single Window (NSW) of information that pertains to the entry, exit, and transit of air carriers, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs. The Prime Minister issued Decision no.43/2017/QD-TTg on September 26, 2017, addressed to state management agencies at airports, and to agencies, organizations, and individuals involved in the handling through NSW of the entry, exit, and transit documents of airplanes at international airports. On the exit procedure for aircraft, the declarants must input pertinent information or documents through the NSW portal, including the commodities declaration and master airway bill for aircraft carrying export goods; list of passengers for aircraft with passengers; list of flight crew; and flight information and booking reference number.
Vietnam customs to launch national cargo control system Asia Customs & Trade 4th Oct 2017
The General Department of Vietnam Customs will soon be implementing across the country the electronic cargo control system that it is currently piloting at select seaports and airports. The department said the system was piloted in August at the Haiphong Customs Department to cover seaports, and is scheduled to be piloted at the Hanoi Customs Department this October for airports. After this, the system will be deployed at all customs branches nationwide, bringing a host of benefits to customs offices and private sector stakeholders alike, especially to the business community, said the agency.
Starting register online tax payment 24/7 Customs News 2nd Oct 2017
From 26/9/2017, the General Department of Vietnam Customs will receive the registration, updating relevant information for taxpayers when registering to participate in electronic tax payment 24/7 at the website of the General Department of Vietnam Customs (address: https://epayment.customs.gov.vn/epaymentportal/login) To participate in this new tax payment process, taxpayers have to register by using digital signatures that used for declaring Customs procedures for paying taxes and updating information on authorized debit bank account when using 24/7 tax payment and clearance; register email, phone number of the taxpayer. Taxpayers declare customs procedures on the electronic customs clearance system of the Customs authority. After completely declaring, the system will automatically determine the amount of payment for each tax types, account, code and name of Customs office, code, and the name of the treasury where the declaration is made.
Progress on special zones law to ease investment Customs News 1st Oct 2017
The Department for Economic Zones Management of the Ministry of Planning and Investment is in the process of completing the draft Law on Special Administrative-Economic Units, with adjustments being made in terms of local operations, organisation, administration and foreign investment incentives. Tran Huy Dong, Director General of the DEZM, said the draft law is an important legal framework for the establishment, development, management and operation of three special administrative units: Van Don in Quang Ninh province, Northern Van Phong in Khanh Hoa province and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province. Its policies will focus on building a particularly favourable business environment by greater opening of the market in the special zones and regulating investment conditions in attractive industries, especially for foreign investors.
Vietnam scraps significant number of business conditions Nhan Dan 22nd Sep 2017
The decision was made by Minister Tran Tuan Anh, on September 20, with 752 rules to be abolished, higher than the initial target of 612. Previously in October 2016, the MOIT also conducted a round of streamlining business requirements by slashing 15 administrative procedures and simplifying another 108, amongst a total of 443 procedures on review.
Vietnam advancing: customs modernization, business environment, economic competitiveness Customs News 20th Sep 2017
Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya met the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, H.E. Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, at WCO Headquarters on Monday 18 September 2017. The Deputy Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation including a number of Vice Ministers. They discussed a wide range of topics relating to economic competitiveness and Customs modernization during the meeting. The Deputy Prime Minister introduced current initiatives of Vietnam for trade facilitation and Customs modernization, in particular the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as well as the National Single Window and ASEAN Single Window.
Deputy Prime Minister agrees with proposals of the Ministry of Finance in implementing Decision 15 Customs News 19th Sep 2017
The Office of the Government has issued a document on the direction of the Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue agreeing with the Ministry of Finance’s proposals related to a unified application for regulations on entry border gate in Decision 15/2017 /QD-TTg as well as obstacles in applying to goods sent via postal and express delivery services. Accordingly, the Deputy Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Finance to specifically guide the implementation, ensure the unified application, remove obstacles in the implementation and achieve management target.
70 new procedures of Ministry of Health will be connected to Single Window Customs News 18th Sep 2017
Those new procedures of Ministry of Health that will connect to Single Window mechanism focus on 4 areas including pharmaceuticals - cosmetic; Preventive healthcare; Food safety; Medical equipment. According to Decision 3972/QĐ-BYT issued by Ministry of Health about Action plan for implementing Single Window and ASEAN Single Window of Ministry of Health till year of 2020, in the period of 2017 – 2018, the ministry will officially open implementation nationwide for 5 procedures that have been connected and add 70 new procedures to single window mechanism. In that, the field of pharmaceuticals – cosmetic has the most number of procedures with 32 administrative procedures; next is medical equipment with 19 procedures; preventive healthcare has 14 procedures; food safety has 5 procedures.
Vietnam signs up to ratify international TIR haulage convention The Loadstar 18th Sep 2017
Vietnam’s accession to the international haulage TIR Convention has taken a step closer after it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the International Road Transport Union (IRU). The decision to ratify the TIR convention follows similar announcements over the past two months from several other countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and the UAE. Administered by the IRU, the UN convention allows goods to be outlined in a TIR carnet and sealed in load compartments. Customs verify the carnet and check the seals, with no need for physical checking of the contents. This enables trucks to pass through countries without being opened at borders, cutting customs clearance from days to hours.
Vietnam to introduce customs bond to facilitate customs clearance Vietnam Briefing 12th Sep 2017
Vietnam will be introducing a customs bond system to facilitate customs clearance and reform import and export procedures. The joint project launched by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF) and Vietnam Private Sector Forum (VPSF) on 1st September will help in modernizing the import and export administrative procedures. GATF will work with local government agencies and monitor the Vietnam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System (VNACCS) and Vietnam Customs Information System (VCIS) to assist in implementing the new system.