|Multilateral Trade Agreements
Gerrish: ‘We need ASEAN to do more for us’ on market access World Trade Online 31st May 2018
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish on Thursday said members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations need to do more to provide reciprocal market access to the United States while reiterating the Trump administration’s preference for bilateral trade deals and focus on reducing trade deficits. “The United States does a lot for ASEAN in terms of market access, we need ASEAN to do more for us,” Gerrish said in a speech to the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, billed as his first public remarks since taking office in March.
Can RCEP negotiations be concluded by end-2018? The ASEAN Post 29th May 2018
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) inched closer to completion last March when the ministers of all 16 countries met in Singapore for their fourth intersessional meeting. Next up on the almanac for leaders is a ministerial meeting which will be held in Tokyo on 1 July.
Chan Chun Sing: Next lap of economic integration will require Asean to be more united and creative The Online Citizen 23rd May 2018
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing stated in his keynote address at the Business Times Leaders' Forum held at the Shangri-La hotel on Monday (21 May) that with the rise in unilateralism and protectionism, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) will need to innovate and create, redefining itself as a market for ideas in addition to a production base for goods.
Mobile makers allege duty evasion in handset imports from Asean The Economic Times 24th May 2018
The domestic cellphone industry has flagged possible duty evasion in imports of the completely built unit (CBU) of mobile phones, suspected of Chinese origin, from Asean countries under the free trade route.
Asean talks boost trade cooperation, facilitation Inquirer 5th Jun 2018
Asean will further reduce barriers and deepen economic linkages among member states, while lowering business costs and creating a larger market and economies of scale for regional businesses. That was the message as delegations in charge of trade from countries in the region gathered at the 27th Coordinating Committee on Implementation of the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement and related meetings in Vientiane last week to discuss trade cooperation and import-export policy improvement.
Deputy USTR Jeffrey Gerrish Statement on APEC Trade Ministers Meeting USTR 26th May 2018
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish attended the 24th Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), hosted by Papua New Guinea on May 25-26, 2018. At the APEC MRT meeting, Ambassador Gerrish underscored the United States’ commitment to promoting free, fair, and reciprocal trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Asean at inflexion point, says Chan Chun Sing The Straits Times 22nd May 2018
Asean is at an inflexion point, as the open and rules-based multilateral trading system, regional integration and economic cooperation come under mounting pressure, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said yesterday. In his keynote speech at The Business Times Leaders' Forum held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Mr Chan told an audience of almost 300 business leaders that trade frictions between major economic players will lead to spillover effects in the region.
Union group fears for future of EU trade deal Phnom Penh Post 17th May 2018
The Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) on Wednesday issued a statement expressing its concern that the upcoming election will impact garment workers, and that if the political climate isn’t improved they could face dire consequences in the form of sanctions or boycotts. CCU noted international concern has been growing beyond the Kingdom’s borders since the detention of the CNRP’s ex-President Kem Sokha last year, and the party’s dissolution. It was also noted by the confederation that much of the outcry has come from nations that import heavily from the country’s garment and textile industry.
Indonesia to impose excise tax on liquids for e-cigarettes U.S. 5th Jun 2018
Indonesia will impose an excise tax of 57 percent on tobacco essences used for electronic cigarettes starting July 1 as part of efforts to curb consumption of tobacco products, a senior official said late on Monday.
EU upbeat on I-EU CEPA deal amid palm oil issue The Jakarta Post 28th May 2018
The European Union believes ongoing debate over palm oil with Indonesia will not hamper the progress of the Indonesia-European Union Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (I-EU CEPA). Vincent Guérend, EU head of delegation and ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, told The Jakarta Post that the EU did not consider palm oil to be a trade issue because he claimed that to date; neither tariff nor maximum duty had been imposed on the commodity. Indonesia strongly protested the European Parliament’s plan to phase out palm oil as a transportation fuel by 2021. “We are not specifically talking about palm oil [in EU-CEPA], because we have 15 chapters to discuss. It may be one aspect in wider issue, but from our point of view we had no problem at all. We imposed no tariff and half of palm oil [products] enters with no duty,” he said on Friday. Guérend explained that 95 percent of the I-EU CEPA covered trade issues; however he expected the agreement to also touch legal aspects such as intellectual property rights and labor, competition and public procurement laws. “We also expect to have a discussion on investment,” he said. The fifth round of I-EU-CEPA discussions is expected to be held in July. Indonesia has completed eight trade agreement deals, including with Japan and Pakistan. (bbn)
Forget US-China, Indonesia-EU trade war may be upon us South China Morning Post 27th May 2018
The European Union’s proposal to no longer recognise biofuel as a renewable energy source puts it on collision course with Malaysia and Indonesia, the two biggest players in the US$39 billion palm oil industry A trade war is looming between the European Union and the world’s biggest producers of palm oil, Indonesia and Malaysia, over proposals to strip biofuel off the menu of renewable energy sources member states may use to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Indonesia, Peru to Enter a Free Trade Agreement Jakarta Globe 25th May 2018
Indonesia and Peru agreed to step up economic cooperation during a meeting between their foreign ministers in Lima, Peru, on Wednesday (23/05). The cooperation is going to start with a trade in goods agreement (TIGA) to intensify trade engagement.
Indonesian Government revokes controversial cabotage legislation CMS Law-Now 13th Jun 2018
Following pressure from various stakeholders, the Indonesian government has revoked Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 82/2017 on the Utilisation of Indonesian Sea Carriage and Insurance for Export of Certain Goods (“Regulation 82”), which was approved in October 2017. Regulation 82 would have required exporters of coal and crude palm oil (CPO) from Indonesia (and the import of rice and goods for government procurement to Indonesia) to use vessels “controlled” by Indonesian shipping companies and to procure insurance from Indonesian insurance companies (please see our previous Law-Now article for details regarding the intended legislation).
Jokowi issues single window regulation to boost exports The Jakarta Post 12th Jun 2018
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signed Presidential Regulation No. 44/2018 on the Indonesia National Single Window (INSW), which is tasked with integrating export and import services, to boost exports. Under the regulation, the submission and the processing of data and information is managed in a single process by the INSW, according to a statement published on the Cabinet Secretariat's official website setkab.go.id on Monday.
Indonesia making preparations to join TPP Nikkei Asian Review 12th Jun 2018
Indonesia is studying the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement reached by 11 nations after the U.S. exited, with a view to joining the trade pact, Jusuf Kalla, the country's vice president, said on Tuesday. Those comments mark a turnaround in policy for the Southeast Asian nation, which had previously said that the trade pact had lost its allure without the U.S.'s participation.
Malaysia PM Mahathir urges TPP 'renegotiation' The Business Times 11th Jun 2018
Malaysia's newly-elected prime minister called on Monday for the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be "renegotiated," and urged protection for small countries in international trade. Malaysia, along with 10 other countries, pushed ahead with the TPP in March despite Donald Trump having yanked the United States out of the huge multilateral trade deal.
Malaysia expects sales surge as 0% GST kicks in The Straits Times 3rd Jun 2018
PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian businesses are anticipating a robust period ahead as consumers will be more willing to open their wallets now the goods and services tax has been effectively scrapped.
Myanmar, China to ink bilateral agreement on border trade The Myanmar Times 31st May 2018
Myanmar and the government of Yunnan, China will sign a bilateral trade agreement when U Than Myint, Minister of Commerce, visits the Kunming Trade Fair next month. The agreement, once signed, will facilitate the legal export of Myanmar produced agriculture products such as rice and sugar across the Myanmar- China border, said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary at the Ministry of Commerce. It will also come after years of restrictive trade measures taken by the Chinese in attempts to crack down on illegal border trade.
China, ASEAN enter into new era of bilateral ties in various fields Lee Yeow Chor 5th Jun 2018
An official of the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China said that China and member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN), including the Philippines, have entered into a new era of mutual cooperation and deeper understanding in various fields. Chen Yao, deputy director general of the International Liaison Bureau of the State Council Information Office, said since China started to open into the outside world, a new era of mutual ties between China and the ASEAN countries evolved in the fields of trade and commerce, tourism and mass communications.
Duterte fires Customs deputy commissioner Sunstar 30th May 2018
Following the supposed unauthorized withdrawal of 105 shipping containers from Manila South Harbor's port, President Rodrigo Duterte fired Customs Deputy Commissioner Noel Patrick Prudente effective Wednesday, May 30. Duterte announced Prudente's dismissal in an impromptu speech he delivered Wednesday during the condemnation of smuggled luxury motor vehicles at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Port Area Manila.
PH, US looking at exploring FTA, bolstering trade and investment ties Asia Customs & Trade 27th May 2018
The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) met with a delegation from the United States to further trade and investment ties and continue exploratory discussions on a possible free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR) Jeffrey D. Gerrish in a recent meeting agreed that an FTA would be a win for both countries, as both officials acknowledged that opportunities exist under the current Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that both teams can work on to facilitate more trade immediately.
Gerrish talks bilateral trade, infrastructure projects in Manilla World Trade Online 23rd May 2018
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish met on Wednesday with senior Philippine officials in Manilla to continue talks on bilateral trade issues, USTR said in a statement. The meeting with economic ministers and others “follows up on the November 2017 meeting between President Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, during which the United States welcomed Philippine interest in deepening the bilateral trade relationship through consideration of a potential free trade agreement,” USTR said.
DOF revisits common carriers tax Malaya 12th Jun 2018
The Department of Finance (DOF) said it will review revenue regulations on the common carriers tax imposed on international air and sea cargo vessels, after it was raised by a Danish official that there is a need to do so in order to level the playing field for all participating businesses. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III assured that a review will be conducted after Denmark’s Minister of Industry, Business, and Financial Affairs Brian Mikkelsen raised the issue during the meeting. Under Republic Act 10378, international carriers are exempted from paying the three percent common carriers tax imposed on passengers, but not on cargo.
The Philippines' FTA with the European Free Trade Association Enters into Force in June ASEAN Business News 30th May 2018
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) will enter into force for Switzerland and the Philippines on June 1, 2018. In March this year, the Philippines’ Senate ratified the FTA with the EFTA as part of the country’s strategy to gain a stronger foothold in the European market. The EFTA comprises of some of the world’s wealthiest nations – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Once implemented, the agreement will be the Philippines’ second bilateral FTA after the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) in 2008.
PH Customs engages Webb Fontaine to improve electronic-to-mobile system Asia Customs & Trade 27th May 2018
The Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) Management Information System and Technology Group (MISTG) is implementing projects and measures to enhance the performance of the bureau’s electronic-to-mobile (e2m) system over the next five years. MISTG deputy commissioner Noel Patrick Prudente, in a Lower House Committee on Ways and Means hearing on May 21, said BOC has tapped Dubai-based customs solutions provider Webb Fontaine to do maintenance and upgrade works on the e2m.
Customs tightens rules to avoid entry of high-risk cargoes into PH Manila Bulletin News 17th May 2018
Shipping lines and airlines are now required to submit advance cargo manifest to the Bureau of Customs in a bid to protect the country’s borders from the entry of high-risk cargoes. Cargo manifest or Inward Foreign Manifest (IFM) contains the detailed list of cargo on board the vessel or aircraft including information on the goods such as transport document numbers, consignors, consignees, marks and numbers, number and kind of packages, weight, description, quantity of the goods, and the destination.
Faster customs clearance for goods exported by Singapore firms to Australia The Business Times 31st May 2018
Companies that have been certified by the Singapore Customs for adhering to robust security practices can now enjoy a faster customs clearance process for goods that they export to Australia, the agency for trade facilitation and revenue enforcement said on Thursday. In addition to the faster clearance process, certified Singapore firms will also be subject to reduced documentary and cargo inspections. The same will be applied to Australian companies that are certified by the Australian Border Force (ABF) for goods that they export to Singapore.
Fears grow over waste imports Bangkok Post 3rd Jun 2018
Plastic waste from 35 countries is being imported into Thailand, said deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta after the latest discovery of containers loaded with smuggled rubbish in Chon Buri. The deputy national police was referring to the 58 tonnes of plastic rubbish intercepted at Laem Chabang Port on Wednesday.
Thailand to squeeze Vietnam on car checks Bangkok Post 2nd Jun 2018
Thailand aims to put pressure on Vietnam for its non-tariff barriers on completely built-up (CBU) cars exported from Thailand. The issue was serious enough that Thai exporters suspended their car shipments after Vietnam tightened inspections for all CBUs at seaports since early this year. CBU cars are required to be tested to meet environmental and emissions standards at a Vietnamese laboratory.
EEC Act Takes Effect Baker McKenzie 21st May 2018
Following on from our recent alert, the Act for the Eastern Special Development Zone (commonly called the Eastern Economic Corridor or “EEC”) was published in the Royal Gazette on 14 May 2018 and took effect on 15 May 2018. There are ten targeted industries for the EEC: next-generation automotive, intelligent electronics, tourism for high-income tourists and medical tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food processing, robotics, logistics and aviation, biofuels and biochemical, digital, and holistic medical and health services.
USTR Launches Review of Thailand’s GSP Eligibility Based on Concerns with Market Access for U.S. Pork United States Trade Representative 17th May 2018
The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced today that it is accepting a petition from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) challenging Thailand’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade preference program.
Seafood exports face barriers vietnamnews.vn 13th Jun 2018
The seafood companies should work closer with various ministries such as trade and industry and foreign affairs to overcome trade barriers that hinder Vietnamese seafood exports, a top agriculture official said. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Trần Thanh Nam, speaking at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) in HCM City yesterday, praised its efforts in the last two decades to apprise seafood producers about the market situation, advocate favourable policies for them and help exporters overcome technical barriers in major markets like the US and EU.
Abandoned imports pile up at City ports vietnamnews.vn 30th May 2018
Following China’s ban on import of plastic wastes, a lot of them are coming instead to Việt Nam, but with consignees failing to claim shipments, the wastes are piling up at ports including in HCM City. As of late May 389 containers arriving in 6,801 consignments are lying in ports for more than 90 days without being claimed by their owners, a customs official told Người lao động (The labourer) newspaper.
FTA - An effective driver of exports Nhan Dan 30th May 2018
As one of the Vietnam's key export goods, garment and textile is one of the sectors to have gained high export turnover in recent years. Vice President of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), Truong Van Cam, said that FTAs have played an important role in boosting the growth of garment and textile exports.
The door for Vietnamese products to US market narrows markets.businessinsider.com 28th May 2018
Vietnamese exporters have been warned that it will be more difficult to export products to the US as the US administration has increased local production protection and tightened control over imports.\ Exporters have been warned it would be more difficult to export products to the US
New regulations on processing goods for foreign merchants Vietnam Investment Review 28th May 2018
As for goods on the list of conditional business lines, only the traders who fully meet the statutory conditions in producing and trading the listed product are eligible to process for exports overseas. As for the goods imported in the form of designation of traders under the management of the State Bank of Vietnam, the processing of commodities will be implemented in accordance with the regulations of the State Bank of Vietnam.
US slaps steep import duties on Chinese steel shipped from Vietnam The Business Times 23rd May 2018
The US Commerce Department on Monday slapped heavy import duties on steel products from Vietnam that originated in China after a final finding they evaded US anti-dumping and anti-subsidy orders.
EVFTA - a push for Vietnam-EU economic relations VietnamNet 22nd May 2018
The upcoming valid EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will create a strong driving force for fostering Vietnam – EU comprehensive economic partnership via the abolition of 99 percent of import tariffs in the next 7-10 years. Other delegates said the Polish government strongly supports the deal and ranks Vietnam among the five priority markets, adding that Polish firms will be at an advantage when doing business in Vietnam.
Deputy USTR Gerrish Discusses Trade Issues with Deputy Prime Minister Hue, Senior Vietnamese Officials United States Trade Representative 23rd May 2018
Deputy United States Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish on May 22, 2018 held wide-ranging discussions with Vietnamese government officials on ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship, resolve priority issues, and reduce the U.S. bilateral goods trade deficit with Vietnam.
Policy stability and transparency needed in SEZ law Saigon Times 22nd May 2018
A law on special economic zones (SEZs) should be built in a way that ensures the stability and transparency of policies and creates a healthy environment for local and foreign investors, according to information at a conference in Hanoi on May 18. SEZs will help attract foreign direct investment, intellects, new technologies and modern management know-how, and promote trade and international integration.