Customs Update: August 23, 2018

Customs Update | August 23, 2018
Authors: Shay Wester, Angga Antagia, and Ian Saccomanno
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
August 27, Meeting with Mr. Taufik Ismail, Head of Goods Classification Section IV, Indonesia Directorate General of Customs and Excise, Jakarta: Please join us for a meeting with Mr. Taufik Ismail, the Head of Goods Classification Section IV of Indonesia Customs and Excise. The meeting will allow members to discuss issues related to goods classification, such as Harmonized System (HS) codes and pre-entry classification (Penetapan Klasifikasi Sebelum Impor/PKSI). The meeting serves as a follow up to the Council's July 31 meeting with Mr. Heru Pambudi, the Director General of Indonesia Customs and Excise.
 
September 27, U.S. - Singapore Trade Facilitation Workshop, Singapore: USTR and Singapore MFA are organizing a weeklong workshop for ASEAN government officials on September 24-28 on the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. They’re inviting our members to speak on a series of private sector panels on September 27. The governments hope to hear perspectives from manufacturers and logistics companies on TFA-related issues, including your challenges with customs systems that the TFA could address and how you envision being able to effectively interact with governments. Please contact Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org if you are interested in joining the event.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Indonesia Planning New Tariffs on Imported Goods in Effort to Lower Current Account Deficit
 
On August 14, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said the government is developing plans to apply new import tariffs to 500 classes of goods following the tariff guidelines of PMK 34/2017 on Income Tax for Imported Goods (PPh 22). The regulation’s rates are divided into several layers based on the good’s classification and the importer’s status: 2.5 percent, 5 percent, 7.5 percent, and 10 percent. Soybeans, wheat, and wheat flour, when importers use import identification numbers (API) would be charged a tariff of 2.5 percent while those without APIs would pay 7.5 percent, for example. The draft of the full regulation is currently with the Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF), headed by Suahasil Nazara. The Council understands there is not yet a firm timeline for implementation.
 
Goods covered would include consumer goods, including B2C e-commerce purchases, and capital goods for state-led projects. The government is hoping the tariffs will encourage local substitution of the products and reduce the country’s trade deficit. The capital goods tariffs are part of a plan to increase local content in infrastructure projects led by the government and State-Owned Enterprises. This policy also includes a 6-month suspension in imports of capital goods for some projects, likely significantly delaying their completion. The consumer goods tariffs will focus on products where local companies could use the increased market power to expand their production. It would likely include vegetable oils, paper, rubber, and plastics according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS). The list is under review by the Ministries of Industry, Trade, and Finance.
 
Responses to the plan from the local business community were cautious or even negative.
  • The Indonesian Employers' Association (APINDO) warned the government's plan to limit imports could reap sanctions from the World Trade Organization (WTO). APINDO also proposed the government should be very careful in determining the list of 500 goods since the domestic supply some of the commodities are insufficient.
  • KADIN, Indonesia’s Chambers of Commerce, also reminded the government to be careful to determine which commodities will be restricted.
  • The Association of Indonesian Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters and Importers said that the restrictions on imports of consumer goods were inappropriate and had the potential to slow down the growth of the consumer sector.
  • The Indonesian Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs Association (GAPMMI) said that principally the business players oppose the import restrictions, especially if the regulation includes raw materials and capital goods. The regulation might disrupt the sustainability of the food and beverage industry which now accounts for 30 percent of non-oil and gas industry.
The decision was motivated by the latest foreign sell-off of Indonesian assets that followed reports showing the current account deficit had widened in the second quarter, putting further pressure on interest rates and the Rupiah. The current account deficit was US$8 billion in the second quarter, twice the total value of consumer goods imported in the same period. Because the tariffs are so small and on such a narrow range of products, mostly in the relatively small consumer sector, it is unlikely they will have a significant short-term effect on the deficit. Ordinarily, Indonesia’s current account deficit and reliance on foreign portfolio investment to finance it is not a significant challenge. However, it did leave the country particularly exposed to last quarter’s instability in developing markets, which the government fears will continue. At the same time, foreign direct investment, which is much steadier during periods of turbulence, has been falling as election season begins.
 
Malaysia’s GST-SST Transition Scheduled for September 1
 
Malaysia will be implementing a new Sales and Services Tax (SST) in place of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on September 1 following Parliament’s passage of five bills on August 20. The new system implements a range of sales taxes on goods, generally 5 or 10 percent with many goods also exempted or given their own specific rates. These taxes will be applied to both goods sold in Malaysia and to taxable goods imported into the country. For imports, the value the tax will be applied to is the sum of the value of the goods (as prescribed under the Customs Act of 1967), the customs duty, and any applicable excise duties. Importers will be able to apply for advance valuation rulings and for duty drawback should their purchased goods be re-exported within six months. The SST establishes a separate tax on services at 6 percent, though a majority of services will actually be exempted. Customs agents, domestic flights, and couriers are, however, included as taxable services. The service tax is only domestic and does not apply to imports or exports of services. Deputy Director General of Customs Dato’ Paddy Bin Abd Halim has been managing the SST transition at the Royal Malaysian Customs Department. More information about the tax, including industry guides, registration material, and exemption applications can be found on the new MySST website.
 
In light of the reintroduction of the SST, a draft advocacy letter based on past member feedback has been drafted by the USABC. Please review the draft of the SST advocacy letter to the Malaysian Finance Ministry (attached to this update) and submit any edits or additional comments to Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org and Tina Jamaluddin at tjamaluddin@usasean.org by COB Wednesday, August 29.
 
ASEAN and EU Refocusing on Region-to-Region Free Trade Agreement
 
After attending France’s July 14 National Day Parade, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong announced that the EU and ASEAN have restarted the process to negotiate an FTA. The first step, which is being worked on now, is agreeing to a framework for the negotiations. Singapore plans to lead on this process, he said, and becomes Coordinator for ASEAN-EU relations this month (August). Negotiations have been on hold since 2009 after slow progress. Since the negotiations were halted, the EU has focused on bilateral FTAs with ASEAN members that could eventually be merged into a regional deal. The EU successfully negotiated FTAs with Vietnam and Singapore in that time while negotiations are ongoing with the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The negotiations with Malaysia and Indonesia have moved slow, partly due to efforts in Europe to apply potentially discriminatory rules against Southeast Asian palm oil. That challenge could also appear in the ASEAN-EU negotiations.
 
Beyond the EU, ASEAN is also concluding a Joint Feasibility Study on an FTA with Canada and is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eurasian Economic Union. The United States, for its part, is continuing to explore starting bilateral free trade agreements with the members of ASEAN with which it had already negotiated the TPP: Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam. Should those countries be interested in the American proposal, the negotiations would likely not begin until after they complete their CPTPP accession.
 
 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

On Tuesday, July 31, the Council held a meeting with Customs and Excise Director General Heru Pambudi and his senior staff, spending several hours reviewing private sector challenges and trade facilitation initiatives. The meeting covered e-commerce facilitation, proposed intangible goods tariffs, HS codes, new cargo manifest reporting regulations, intellectual property protection, proposed de minimis changes, plastics excise taxes, and 3D printing. The meeting was followed on August 7 by a meeting with Deputy Director for Import Customs Djanurindro Wibowo and other business associations to review the implementation of the new cargo manifest regulation, Minister of Finance Regulation No. PMK-158/PMK.04/2017. The Council is also exploring working level meetings and letters to further discuss and offer input on several other issues, including a meeting on goods classification included above in Looking Ahead.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Time to Restrict GSP Benefits to Fight Trade Mercantilism
Asean agrees to step up efforts on world's largest free-trade pact
Ideas: Moving Seamless Asean Sky forward
‘World’s First’ Trade Blockchain Launches in Singapore to Link China and ASEAN Nations
EU and ASEAN to restart FTA process: PM Lee

Cambodia
Plans for new cargo terminal in capital unveiled

Indonesia
Indonesia considers reducing imports of 500 consumer goods
How Indonesian customs is affecting cross-border B2C ecommerce
US requests WTO to allow retaliation against Indonesia
New Regulation on Business Identification Numbers for Excisable Goods
API Integration into the OSS System
Indonesia Lobbies US for Aluminum Duty Exemption
Indonesia lobbies to maintain special tariff treatment

Laos
Laos announces adoption of new Asean tariff code

Malaysia
Service Tax Bill 2018 passed by Dewan Rakyat
Smooth sailing for SST Bills
Malaysia reviewing national automotive policy, may impose curbs on car imports: PM Mahathir
Malaysia should ratify CPTPP for new economic opportunities

Myanmar
Chinese demand for Myanmar cotton could surge on trade war with US
A dozen customs officials charged after bribery complaint
Falling kyat value hurting trade, widens deficit
Border zone with China to go ahead

Philippines
BOC to craft order on regulation of foreign shipping lines
BOC chief continues to enjoy President's confidence amid shabu shipment issue
PH Customs' GPS system for containers in-transit now on its dry run
Customs to open thousands of abandoned containers after shabu discovery
BOC to replace advanced manifest system with WCO version
Enhanced Goods Declaration Verification System effective Aug 2
BOC takes lead in forming multiagency unit on port issues
Philippines, United Kingdom eyeing talks on bilateral free trade despite Brexit
House passes rice tariffication bill
Customs creates task force to lead preparations for fuel marking system
BOC launching ‘1-Assessment’ to curb corruption

Singapore
Singapore and Mercosur start free trade talks
Cross-Border Trade Streamlined for Businesses Between Australia-Singapore and Australia-Canada
Singapore ratifies CPTPP trade deal to become 3rd nation to do so after Mexico and Japan

Thailand
New Customs Act to transform Thailand into regional distribution hub
Tax boss targets online shopping 
Bans on Imported Waste Continue in Southeast Asia
Thailand scraps new economic zones and plans regional linkups
Border economies expected to retain high volumes
Striving for safer passage of goods

Vietnam
Vietnam pilots new import-export customs procedures
New process for inspection, consultation and customs valuation
Vietnam to restrict import of scrap
Vietnam makes effort to reduce logistics costs
Hà Nội promotes modernisation of warehouse management in customs process
MoIT will submit CPTPP for approval by year-end
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Time to Restrict GSP Benefits to Fight Trade Mercantilism Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 20th Aug 2018
Duty-free access to U.S. markets represents a major benefit for many trading partners that clearly do not provide fair and reasonable market access or treatment of U.S. firms and their goods and services. At the heart of the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) lies a recognition that free trade supports economic growth in developing countries, and such trade can be mutually beneficial. However, with their duty-free access to U.S. markets comes the responsibility of abiding by free and fair trade practices. Yet, a number of the developing countries that benefit from the GSP—most notably Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Thailand—have enacted a broad range of trade barriers and other market distortions that hurt U.S. firms and workers, and contravene the GSP’s requirement that they provide reasonable and fair market access to U.S. firms and their goods and services.

Asean agrees to step up efforts on world's largest free-trade pact The Straits Times 5th Aug 2018
Amid anxiety over a trade war, Asean nations and their key partners have agreed to redouble efforts to conclude a region-wide trade pact by the end of the year. The 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would, if concluded, be the world's largest free trade deal. "All 10 Asean countries and our external partners acknowledge that a multilateral, rules-based trading system, which has underpinned our progress and peace for the past 70 years is under pressure, but we need to double down on this principle," said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday at the end of a week of Asean-led meetings.

Ideas: Moving Seamless Asean Sky forward The Edge Markets 21st Jul 2018
The Seamless Asean Sky is a critical component of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). With its world-class aviation industry and central location, Malaysia has played a leading role in pursuing the notion of having a single sky in Asean. Therefore, as Anthony Loke settles into his new job as transport minister, one of his top priorities should be progressing the seamless skies policy in Asean. With Malaysia as chair of the Asean Air Transport Working Group, this is a great opportunity to show Malaysia’s leadership in delivering jobs and growth in the region.

‘World’s First’ Trade Blockchain Launches in Singapore to Link China and ASEAN Nations CCN 19th Jul 2018
A Singapore-based e-government service provider – notably owned by a government body and a port operator – has launched a blockchain platform focused on cross-border trade between ASEAN nations and China. Singapore-based CrimsonLogic, an e-government solutions provider with a presence in over 20 countries, announced [PDF] details of its ‘inclusive and extensible blockchain service’ that the company says will will ‘boost overall efficiency, security and transparency’ for global trade.

EU and ASEAN to restart FTA process: PM Lee Channel NewsAsia 15th Jul 2018
The European Union (EU) and ASEAN have agreed to restart the process of establishing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between them, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Jul 14). And as the ASEAN coordinator for ASEAN-EU relations after this August, he said that Singapore hopes to establish a framework to identify areas with potential to work out deals.

Cambodia

Plans for new cargo terminal in capital unveiled Khmer Times 17th Jul 2018
Cargo handling capacity at Phnom Penh’s International Airport will be taken to the next level with the construction of a new cargo terminal announced by Cambodia Airports this week. The planned cargo terminal will boost the Kingdom’s international trade, according to Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, the company in charge of managing the country’s international airports.

Indonesia

Indonesia considers reducing imports of 500 consumer goods The Jakarta Post 15th Aug 2018
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said on Tuesday the Finance Ministry, together with the Industry Ministry and Trade Ministry, would team up to identify more than 500 imported consumer goods that could be replaced by local substitutes. The Finance Ministry’s fiscal policy head Suahasil Nazara said the import reduction measures for consumer goods were under discussion and that the ministry would issue a regulation on the matter.

How Indonesian customs is affecting cross-border B2C ecommerce Tech in Asia 10th Aug 2018
With a population of 650 million and an extremely fast growing middle class, Southeast Asia is fast becoming a battleground for many brands. Most are choosing to penetrate and explore the market via cross-border ecommerce, as it requires the least cost and risk. However, this may not be the best for customer experience, especially with erratic customs practices and regulations (except Singapore and, to some extent, Malaysia).

US requests WTO to allow retaliation against Indonesia Lexology 10th Aug 2018
On August 2, 2018, the United States delegation to the WTO notified the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) that The United States considers that Indonesia has failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in the dispute Indonesia — Importation of Horticultural Products, Animals, and Animal Products (DS478). Pursuant to Article 22.2 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), the United States requested authorization from the DSB to suspend concessions or other obligations with respect to Indonesia at an annual level based on a formula commensurate with the trade effects caused to the interests of the United States by the failure of Indonesia to comply with the recommendations of the DSB.

New Regulation on Business Identification Numbers for Excisable Goods Hukum Online 8th Aug 2018
The Minister of Finance (“Minister”) has issued Regulation No. 66/PMK.04/2018 on Procedures for the Granting, Suspension and Revocation of Business Identification Numbers for Excisable Goods (“Regulation 66/2018”).

API Integration into the OSS System Hukum Online 8th Aug 2018
The Minister of Trade (“Minister”) has issued Regulation No. 75 of 2018 on Importer Identification Numbers (“Regulation 75/2018”), which is an implementing regulation for Regulation of Government No. 24 of 2018 on the Electronically Integrated Business Licensing Service (“Regulation 24/2018”).

Indonesia Lobbies US for Aluminum Duty Exemption Tempo 8th Aug 2018
Enggartiasto said America charges 25 percent duty for aluminum import. "I told them that our market share in America is only 0.23 percent, and [our product] is not made in America, and is used by the American industry, including Boeing," he said.

Indonesia lobbies to maintain special tariff treatment Reuters 5th Aug 2018
Indonesia lobbied visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to keep the Southeast Asian nation on a list of countries that receive preferential trade terms, its foreign and trade ministers said on Sunday. “President Joko Widodo has delivered Indonesia’s hope that the U.S. will maintain the country’s GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) facility,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters after meeting Pompeo.

Laos

Laos announces adoption of new Asean tariff code The Nation 23rd Aug 2018
According to the announcement, posted on the Lao Trade Portal, an official website that provides information on trade services, Laos has put into practice the Asean Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature 2017 since May.

Malaysia

Service Tax Bill 2018 passed by Dewan Rakyat Hemananthani Sivanandam Martin Carvalho Rahimy Rahim & Loshana K Shagar 8th Aug 2018
The Service Tax Bill 2018 was passed in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Aug 8) without much hassle, unlike the Sales Tax Bill 2018 the day before. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Service Tax would be beneficial to the rakyat, unlike the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which was a burden. With the abolishing of GST, Lim said local and state governments can now benefit, as they no longer need to pay the 6% tax for projects. “Before this, any road project, even longkang (drainage) upgrading projects would need have the 6% added.

Smooth sailing for SST Bills The Star Online 21st Aug 2018
The Bills on the Sales and Service Tax (SST) sailed through the Dewan Negara, which is majority-controlled by the opposition, without hiccups, paving the way for the return of SST on Sept 1. The latest development put to rest fears that the Bills tabled by the Pakatan Harapan-led government could be delayed at the upper House.

Malaysia reviewing national automotive policy, may impose curbs on car imports: PM Mahathir The Straits Times 30th Jul 2018
The Malaysian government is reviewing the national automotive policy, which may include imposing conditions on the import of foreign vehicles. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in Parliament on Monday (July 30) that while the government agrees with the practice of free trade, other countries worldwide impose conditions for their own markets.

Malaysia should ratify CPTPP for new economic opportunities BorneoPost Online 26th Jul 2018
Malaysia should ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as the pact is the best platform for local companies to access economic opportunities in a new region, says Mexican Ambassador to Malaysia. The envoy said he encouraged newly-minted International Trade and Industries Minister Darell Leiking and Malaysia to ratify the CPTPP, a revision of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement which the United States withdrew from in January 2017.

Myanmar

Chinese demand for Myanmar cotton could surge on trade war with US The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
China has imported cotton from the US for the past 10 years. Last month though, US President Donald Trump imposed $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports, which includes agriculture. That sparked the ongoing trade war between the two countries, with China retaliating by slapping tariffs on agriculture imports from the US. Now, China is interested in importing Myanmar cotton, said U Aung Myint, secretary of the Cotton Product Merchant and Manufacturers Association. “Despite being able to also import cotton from India as an alternative to the US, China has offered to buy from Myanmar instead because we do not charge import duties on cotton yet,” he said.

A dozen customs officials charged after bribery complaint The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
The commission on Monday said the allegations against the customs officials under the Ministry of Planning and Finance were true. They were charged under Section 56/63 of the 2013 Anti-Corruption Commission law. Since taking office as president, U Win Myint announced that he will effectively crack down on corrupt government officials.

Falling kyat value hurting trade, widens deficit The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
While the dearer exchange rate will likely have an impact on imports and inflation as petrol, raw materials and consumer goods become more expensive, exporters should stand to gain. Yet, businesses involved in exporting say this isn’t the case. One reason is businesses must import require materials to add value to the finished product, so the higher value of the dollar eats into production costs anyway, said U Hnin Oo, vice chair of the Myanmar Shrimp Association.

Border zone with China to go ahead The Myanmar Times 17th Jul 2018
The discussions were carried out last week by the implementation body with priority made between Kachin and Shan states as they share the border with China, the ministry said. “There are some suitable locations both in Kachin and Shan states. The talks were about which one to prioritise and which one follows which,” he said.

Philippines

BOC to craft order on regulation of foreign shipping lines PortCalls Asia 23rd Aug 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has created a team that will draft a customs administrative order (CAO) on the registration and regulation of international shipping lines calling the Philippines. “We will have a separate customs administrative order which will deal specifically with regulation and registration of shipping lines,” BOC Port of Manila deputy collector for Operations Atty. Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang said in a speech during the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines general membership meeting on August 18.

BOC chief continues to enjoy President's confidence amid shabu shipment issue PortCalls Asia 13th Aug 2018
Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña still has President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust even after a shipment of illegal drugs potentially worth P6.8 billion worth may have apparently slipped past Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel. “May tiwala siya kay General Lapeña, may tiwala siya sa PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency]. Inaasahan niya na magkakaroon nang mas malapit na ugnayan ang PDEA at Bureau of Customs dahil nanggaling naman po sa PDEA itong si General Lapeña (The President trusts General Lapeña, also the PDEA. He [the President] expects closer coordination between PDEA and BOC, considering General Lapeña also came from PDEA [before being appointed BOC chief]),” Roque said in a press briefing on August 13.

PH Customs' GPS system for containers in-transit now on its dry run PortCalls Asia 12th Aug 2018
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) is pilot-testing a GPS-based container tracking system to make sure containers in transit are transferred only to the designated container yard/container freight stations (CY/CFS), and Philippine Economic Zone Authority locations. The Electronic Transit Cargo Monitoring System (ETCMS), or i-Track, is a web-based application using a GPS-lock system that allows BOC to track movements of containers, Management Information and Technology Group (MISTG) officer-in-charge deputy commissioner Jeffrey Ian Dy told Asia Customs & Trade in an interview.

Customs to open thousands of abandoned containers after shabu discovery philstar 11th Aug 2018
The Bureau of Customs has ordered the opening of all abandoned containers at the Manila International Container Port and Port of Manila following the back-to-back discovery of tons of shabu that slipped through the agency. “At present, I have directed the opening of all abandoned containers in MICP and other ports. Baka sakaling meron pa naiwan dyan,” Customs Chief Isidro Lapeña said in a press conference.

BOC to replace advanced manifest system with WCO version PortCalls Asia 8th Aug 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is set to introduce a new system to replace its advanced manifest system (AMS), whose implementation is currently on hold due to issues raised by stakeholders. The BOC took note of concerns raised by stakeholders on the AMS, especially the requirement to scan the documents and convert them to PDF copies. Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, in a memorandum last May 29, ordered the AMS suspended following only a few weeks of implementation, in the interest of service and “to further test the readiness” of the system.

Enhanced Goods Declaration Verification System effective Aug 2 PortCalls Asia 23rd Jul 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will roll out on Aug 2 the Enhanced Goods Declaration Verification System (eGDVS) also known as “1-Assessment” initially at the ports of Subic, Clark and Batangas. Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 10-2018, the guidelines for implementing EGDVS, was signed by Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña on July 12.

BOC takes lead in forming multiagency unit on port issues PortCalls Asia 20th Jul 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is spearheading the creation of an interagency body composed of government agencies and port stakeholders and users that will address issues hounding the private sector. The proposal to create an interagency body followed a two-day port users’ summit conducted by BOC that tackled issues affecting stakeholders and that came up with proposed solutions.

Philippines, United Kingdom eyeing talks on bilateral free trade despite Brexit Manila Standard 16th Jul 2018
The Philippines and the United Kingdom are preparing for a bilateral free trade partnership despite the latter’s decision to leave the European Union. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Monday, Manila and London would hold preparatory meetings for the bilateral framework. He said the Embassy of the United Kingdom in the Philippines led by Ambassador Daniel Pruce started its own preparation for the talks. “They appreciate the strong campaigns of government on anti-competition policies, ease of doing business, regulatory reforms, and MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises] training,” said Lopez.

House passes rice tariffication bill CNN 14th Aug 2018
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) — The House of Representatives has passed a bill lifting limits to rice imports and replacing it with a general tariff. Two hundred lawmakers passed House Bill 7735, or the proposed Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act, on third and final reading Tuesday. Only seven voted against, while two abstained. President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned the bill as a priority during his State of the Nation Address.

Customs creates task force to lead preparations for fuel marking system BusinessMirror 6th Aug 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has created a task force to oversee the preparation of the fuel marking system or the implementation of the anti-oil smuggling scheme, a key plank of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. Pursuant to Customs Special Order (CSO) 49-2018, the Fuel Marking Task Force, chaired by the bureau’s Enforcement Group and cochaired by its Intelligence Group, shall formulate and prepare relevant administrative issuances subject to the approval of the customs commissioner or the secretary of finance.

BOC launching ‘1-Assessment’ to curb corruption Manila Bulletin News 20th Jul 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will launch and implement an electronic system that operates with lesser human intervention in the declaration of imported goods next month to weed out irregularities and corruption. The Enhanced Goods Declaration Verification System (EGDVS), also known as ‘1-Assessment,’ will be launched August 2, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena said.

Singapore

Singapore and Mercosur start free trade talks The Straits Times 25th Jul 2018
Singapore and South American customs union Mercosur have started negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), officials announced on Monday on the sidelines of the 13th Pacific Alliance Summit held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mercosur comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with a collective market of more than 260 million people and a gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion (S$3.4 trillion).

Cross-Border Trade Streamlined for Businesses Between Australia-Singapore and Australia-Canada Lexology 18th Jul 2018
Businesses in Singapore and Australia will have increased opportunities for streamlined trade under a new Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) that was signed on 31 May 2018. This will create better access to global markets for businesses participating in the Australian Trusted Traders (ATT) program or Singaporean Secure Trade Partnership (STP) program.

Singapore ratifies CPTPP trade deal to become 3rd nation to do so after Mexico and Japan The Business Times 19th Jul 2018
Singapore has ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), becoming the third nation to do so after Mexico and Japan. The Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement on Thursday that the CPTPP is a high-quality agreement that will reduce market barriers as well as foster trade in a combined market of 500 million people with a gross domestic product of US$10 trillion (S$13 trillion).

Thailand

New Customs Act to transform Thailand into regional distribution hub Pattaya Mail 26th Jul 2018
The Thai Chamber of Commerce has held a seminar to raise awareness about the new Customs Act B.E. 2560 among Thai importers and exporters to ensure they have correct understanding. The seminar aimed to educate import and export business operators about certain changes made to the customs law, particularly regarding a duty free zone. The Customs Act now recognizes areas where imported goods are waiting to be shipped to third country duty free zones, hoping to promote Thailand as a regional trading and distribution hub.

Tax boss targets online shopping  The Nation 23rd Aug 2018
The Customs Department has stepped up its tax collection for online shopping and provided more convenient services for taxpayers, Kulit Sombatsiri, director general of the Customs Department, said on Thursday. E-shopping for foreign goods had led to tariff collection worth about Bt5 million every month, he said.

Bans on Imported Waste Continue in Southeast Asia Lexology 20th Aug 2018
On August 16, 2018, Reuters reported that Thailand plans to ban imports of a variety of scrap electronics within the next six months and recycled plastic within the next two years. The Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Kanchanarat, cites environmental and health concerns as the reason for the ban.

Thailand scraps new economic zones and plans regional linkups Nikkei Asian Review 15th Aug 2018
The Thai government is revamping its special economic zone strategy and pushing for links with those in neighboring countries, hoping to improve access within the region and secure tariff-free entrance for its goods into the European Union. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak recently said government agencies are drafting plans to develop some border areas, with the goals of boosting exports and providing jobs to narrow the urban-rural inequality gap.

Border economies expected to retain high volumes Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
Thailand's border trade remains on course for healthy growth after rising 6.8% year-on-year in the first half of the year amid higher demand for Thai goods. According to Wanchai Varavithya, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, overall border trade, including transit trade, amounted to 679 billion baht in the first half. Transit trade comprises businesses connected with the passage of goods through a country to their destination.

Striving for safer passage of goods Bangkok Post 22nd Jul 2018
The European Union (EU) has commissioned Thailand to conduct training workshops for the transportation of dangerous goods in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), as part of a move to get the entire sub-region to adopt United Nations-based safety regulations for road-based logistics operations.

Vietnam

Vietnam pilots new import-export customs procedures Asia Customs & Trade 22nd Aug 2018
The General Department of Vietnam Customs has announced the conduct this month of test runs for new customs procedures on imported and exported goods at a number of the agency’s customs branches. In a statement August 20, the agency said the piloting of the new customs processes for exported and imported products is in line with the implementation of the latest relevant regulations from the Ministry of Finance.

New process for inspection, consultation and customs valuation VietlawOnline 16th Jul 2018
This process only applies to consignments subject to documentary inspection, physical inspection. One of the new points of this process is the separation between order of, procedures for, inspection, consultation and customs valuation with regard to goods without and without sales contracts.

Vietnam to restrict import of scrap VietNamNet 6th Aug 2018
The General Department of Viet Nam Customs (CGD) will study and submit to the Ministry of Finance a proposal to the Government to restrict imports of scrap materials and move towards a ban on scrap imports to Vietnam. According to Au Anh Tuan, acting director of the Customs Supervision and Management Department, after China banned the import of 24 types of scrap, the amount imported to Vietnam in 2017 and the first five months of 2018 has increased. Additionally, some enterprises had forged scrap import permits.

Vietnam makes effort to reduce logistics costs Vietnam Net 25th Jul 2018
Since the start of his term, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has consistently emphasised the goal of perfecting the institutions, of which comprehensive administrative reform is a part. And such a bold resolve has exerted a positive impact on the economy. Vietnam’s logistics costs are equivalent to 20.9% of its GDP. In 2017 Vietnam’s total export-import value reached over US$400 billion for the first time, with exports up by more than 20%. In the first half of 2018, exports were estimated at nearly US$114 billion, up 16% over the same period of last year, while imports also rose by 10% to over US$111 billion.

Hà Nội promotes modernisation of warehouse management in customs process vietnamnews.vn 25th Jul 2018
The Customs Department of Hà Nội has been implementing solutions to remove difficulties and promote modern management of warehouse and customs clearance sites. According to the department, 24 out of 31 warehouses managed by the department have not reached requirements on business conditions for tax-exemption goods, warehouses and places of customs clearance, inspection and supervision.

MoIT will submit CPTPP for approval by year-end Việt Nam News 20th Jul 2018
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is preparing necessary documents to submit the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to the National Assembly for approval by the end of this year. This information was provided by Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang during the regular press conference held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 19.