Customs Update: October 25, 2018

Customs Update | October 25, 2018
Authors: Ian Saccomanno, Lucius Lee, and Shay Wester
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

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WCO workshop for Lao Customs on Combating Counterfeiting: The World Customs Organization is inviting Council members to present on intellectual property protection and product identification techniques at an upcoming training session for the Lao Department of Customs. The Joint Session with Rights Holders is scheduled for the afternoon of November 13 in Vientiane. Please contact Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org by November 6 if you are interested in presenting at the event.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
President Duterte appoints Third Customs Chief Following Drug Smuggling Scandal
 
On October 25, President Duterte transferred Philippine Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and ordered all department heads and deputy commissioners in the BOC to step down following a recent drug smuggling scandal. The new scandal, which has received attention from the House of Representatives and the national media, centers around a shipment of magnetic lifters which may have contained several tons of methamphetamine through a BOC checkpoint in July. The development marks the second time the Bureau’s leadership has been replaced following a drug smuggling scandal during the Duterte administration. The first time being when Nicanor Faeldon was replaced by Lapeña in August 2017 (covered by the Council at this link). Lapeña had previously lead the Drug Enforcement Agency and upon taking charge of the BOC, pledged to crack down on smuggling, tax evasion, and especially drug trafficking. He then quickly won praise from the country’s leadership for consistently meeting the BOC’s revenue collection targets with his crackdown.
 
Lapeña is replaced by Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator and former Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces Rey Leonardo Borja Guerrero. President Duterte indicated he would appoint another retired officer, likely from the Navy, to replace Guerrero as Marina Administrator. TESDA was previously lead by Guiling Mamondiong who recently resigned after filing his certificate of candidacy for Governor of Lanao del Sur. 
 

Singapore Launches Networked Trade Platform

On September 26, Singapore Customs formally launched the Networked Trade Platform (NTP), a new one-stop platform for all players along the trade value chain to electronically perform all trade-related regulatory procedures and transactions. The system includes government services and third-party tools for freight booking, trade finance, cargo insurance, customs declaration submission, and payments of fees. It also includes an online data repository for trade-related documents with full access control. Singapore expects the new system to increase productivity and boost the competitiveness of companies while supporting Singapore’s digitalization efforts and maintaining Singapore’s position as a hub of global trade.
The previous system, TradeXchange, will be decommissioned on October 28. TradeXchange accounts will not be transferred automatically to the NTP so companies should ensure they have set up new accounts. More information on the changeover can be found in August 27 TradeXchange decommissioning notice at this link.

Thailand Considering Amendment to the Customs Act and New Export Controls for WMD

At the end of September, Thailand held public hearings on a first tranche of amendments to the 2017 Customs Act. The consultation proposes 17 changes to the law, which can be found in the consultation document at this link. Most of these are small changes to processes for quarantine orders, certain goods seizures, freeze orders, clearance and payments of duties, bonded warehouses, transshipment, and violation penalties. More notably, it clearly defines the language on the duty assessment period in Section 19, which had previously seen varying interpretations.

The Department of Foreign Trade is also developing a new export controls law, the Act on Control of Weapons of Mass Destruction for the National Legislative Assembly. After the law is completed, regulations will follow it to describe goods that will require licensing or be subject to self-certification. Thailand is also preparing a new regulation on export controls for dual-use items for a January 1, 2019 implementation, following several delays. The Council previously covered the dual-use export controls regulation in October 2017 before it was delayed (update accessible here). With additional export control rules in the pipeline, companies should watch for additional changes or delays to this dual-use export control regulation.
 

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Customs Technology Workshop with the ASEAN Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group

On October 22, the Council held a day-long workshop alongside the October meeting of the ASEAN Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG). The event featured a series of panel discussions and breakout sessions on how emerging technologies such as blockchain, data analytics, track and trace and networked platforms could support customs processes and ASEAN economic integration, and the policy considerations for their adoption. Council member companies were joined by the Australian Border Force, the Singapore Customs Networked Trade Platform Office, and the Customs Administration of the Netherlands to discuss their latest work on digital systems and how public-private partnerships could facilitate trade and customs operations. More information about follow-up opportunities and the event’s outcomes will be distributed soon.

ASEAN Customs Survey on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Implementation

The ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) are currently surveying the private sector’s views on progress implementing the World Trade Organization – Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA) in the ASEAN Member States, with support from USABC. The survey was developed by Singapore Customs with advice from USABC and several member companies and we strongly encourage all members engaged in cross-border goods trade to take the time to record their experiences in the survey for every country they do business in. The data the Secretariat gathers will be used in ASEAN customs meetings to benchmark ASEAN's progress and develop trade facilitation policy responses. Please enter your responses to the survey via this SurveyMonkey link by October 31.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
EU-Vietnam deal seen as 'stepping stone' for agreement with ASEAN, says Commission
US-China tensions make Asian free-trade deal ‘a priority’

Brunei
Brunei continues to improve maritime situation nationally

Cambodia
Cambodia talks fail to end trade sanction threat, EU says

Indonesia
VN, Indonesia aim for breakthroughs in economic ties
Indonesia, Switzerland committed to concluding IE-CEPA
Government to increase airport tax: Minister
Govt: Luxury Tax to Boost Car Export

Laos
Cross-border zone in North could boost trade links

Malaysia
Malaysia, Thailand cross-border trading to be round-the-clock, says Dr M
Malaysia to identify NTMs and cut cost of compliance 25%
PAC to close case on ‘missing’ GST returns
Indonesia, Sabah to work together to curb smuggling as barter trade takes off
Govt mulls digital tax on e-commerce biz
Malaysia keeps Nov crude palm oil export tax at zero pct

Philippines
Port congestion: what's the real score?
BOC rolls out implementing rules for consolidated balikbayan box shipments
New rules out on 1-Assessment nationwide implementation
BOC issues rules implementing PH-EFTA free trade agreement
Duterte 'promotes' Lapeña to TESDA; ex-AFP chief Guerrero to head Customs
Philippines' Duterte boosts imports to fight inflation

Singapore
New digital trade platform to streamline end-to-end trade processes
Singapore Customs posts changes to the prohibition of imports, exports, transshipments and goods in transit from or to North Korea
EU emerges as champion of free trade with Singapore deal

Thailand
Customs to tighten up watch on couriers of brand-name products
Thailand taken off ivory trade watch list
Cabinet approves Hong Kong office

Vietnam
Highlight on documents posted on e-customs Portal in 1st week of Oct, 2018
Implementation of National Single Window for entry or exit procedures of vessels at Long Binh inland sea port
Vietnam to host 13th ASEM Customs DG-Commissioners Meeting
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

EU-Vietnam deal seen as 'stepping stone' for agreement with ASEAN, says Commission euractiv 17th Oct 2018
The EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said on Wednesday (17 October) that the “ambitious” trade deal made with Vietnam could “pave the way” for an agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), despite scepticism on the other side. The college of commissioners adopted the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreement on Wednesday (17 October). Now the deal has to be ratified by the Council and the European Parliament.

US-China tensions make Asian free-trade deal ‘a priority’ South China Morning Post 11th Oct 2018
The US-China trade war gives Southeast Asia fresh impetus to wrap up negotiations on a Beijing-backed free-trade deal that has been in the works for five years, Malaysia’s top trade negotiator has said. Norazman Ayob’s comments at the South China Morning Post ’s China Conference in Kuala Lumpur echoed suggestions by regional leaders including Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong that the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership may be finalised by the end of the year, after 23 rounds of negotiations stretching back to 2012.

Brunei

Brunei continues to improve maritime situation nationally Borneo Bulletin Online 22nd Oct 2018
Shipping constitutes more than 80 per cent of world trade, transporting goods and services to people and communities worldwide, said Minister of Communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof in a message to mark World Maritime Day 2018.

Cambodia

Cambodia talks fail to end trade sanction threat, EU says Reuters 19th Oct 2018
Cambodia failed on Friday to allay criticisms of authoritarianism and rights abuses that threaten the country’s duty-free trading access to the European Union, the EU’s top diplomat said after talks with its premier. Brussels began a formal procedure this month to strip Cambodia of its special trade status, worth billions of euros a year, following July elections that returned strongman Hun Sen to power after 30 years in office and gave his party all parliamentary seats.

Indonesia

VN, Indonesia aim for breakthroughs in economic ties VietNamNews 13th Oct 2018
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have stressed the need to create breakthroughs in bilateral economic cooperation, making it the main pillar of the strategic partnership between Viet Nam and Indonesia. During their talks in Bali, Indonesia, on October 12, the leaders exchanged views on orientations to deepen bilateral ties and elevate cooperation between the two countries to new heights, bringing tangible benefits to their peoples.

Indonesia, Switzerland committed to concluding IE-CEPA The Jakarta Post 15th Oct 2018
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has said Indonesia and Switzerland are committed to concluding the negotiations on the Indonesia-European Free Trade Association Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IE-CEPA).

Government to increase airport tax: Minister The Jakarta Post 2nd Oct 2018
The government plans to increase fees for airplane passenger services, widely known as airport taxes, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said in Jakarta on Monday.

Govt: Luxury Tax to Boost Car Export Tempo 25th Sep 2018
The Industry Ministry revealed it will discuss the luxury vehicle tax (PPnBM) in a limited meeting as the proposal related to the tax scheme has yet to see an improvement.

Laos

Cross-border zone in North could boost trade links Bangkok Post 24th Sep 2018
The government is studying the feasibility of establishing a cross-border economic zone in the Golden Triangle under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation scheme to expand economic links for Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China.

Malaysia

Malaysia, Thailand cross-border trading to be round-the-clock, says Dr M Malay Mail 24th Oct 2018
Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to open up their borders for 24-hour cross-border trading, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced today. Putrajaya will also be constructing two bridges connecting Kelantan to the border to encourage the trade, he told a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Thailand’s Government House here.

Malaysia to identify NTMs and cut cost of compliance 25% Asia Customs & Trade 22nd Oct 2018
Malaysia is working to reduce the cost of compliance for exporters and importers by 25% using database from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that identifies and compiles non-tariff measures (NTMs), said a senior consultant of the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC).

PAC to close case on ‘missing’ GST returns The Star Online 24th Oct 2018
The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) expects to wind up its proceedings with regard to the “missing” RM19.4bil Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit returns by the end of this Parliament meeting in December.

Indonesia, Sabah to work together to curb smuggling as barter trade takes off The Star Online 22nd Oct 2018
Indonesia and Sabah have agreed to work together to curb smuggling activities as barter trade commences in Tawau.

Govt mulls digital tax on e-commerce biz The Edge Markets 18th Oct 2018
The government is seeking to diversify its revenue source in a bid to increase contribution from indirect taxes and non-tax revenues, according to the Mid-term Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan 2016-2020 released today. Thanks to the continued growth of e-commerce and sharing economy activities, the government will explore imposing tax on these online transactions.

Malaysia keeps Nov crude palm oil export tax at zero pct The Edge Markets 17th Oct 2018
Malaysia maintained its export tax on crude palm oil for November at zero percent, according to a circular on the Malaysian Palm Oil Board's website on Wednesday, citing the national customs department.

Philippines

Port congestion: what's the real score? PortCalls Asia 24th Oct 2018
Is there port congestion at Manila’s international terminals? For the Philippine government, there is none, only a high level of terminal yard utilization. Stakeholders, however, are not inclined to believe this, pointing out that shipping lines are imposing port congestion-related surcharges (masquerading as “peak season surcharge”, according to some), and noting the long queue of trucks going inside the terminals.

BOC rolls out implementing rules for consolidated balikbayan box shipments PortCalls Asia 22nd Oct 2018
Just in time for the holidays, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has issued rules for the simplified customs clearance procedures covering consolidated shipment of balikbayan (personal effects) boxes entered through any port of entry, sent to families or relatives by qualified Filipinos while abroad (QFWAs).

New rules out on 1-Assessment nationwide implementation PortCalls Asia 17th Oct 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has released guidelines for the nationwide implementation of 1-Assessment, a web-based queue management application that provides bias-free assessment by randomly assigning appraisers and examiners to filed goods declarations. Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on October 11 signed Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 17-2018 to implement in all ports 1-Assessment, formerly called the enhanced goods declaration verification system (EGDVS).

BOC issues rules implementing PH-EFTA free trade agreement PortCalls Asia 1st Oct 2018
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has released guidelines on the implementation of the free trade agreement (FTA) between the country and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The guidelines follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing last month of Executive Order (EO) No. 61 series of 2018, which modifies the rates of import duty on certain imported articles to implement Philippine tariff commitments under the PH-EFTA FTA.

Duterte 'promotes' Lapeña to TESDA; ex-AFP chief Guerrero to head Customs Philippine Star 25th Oct 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte announced on that he would move embattled Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Lapeña removal comes just a day after he acknowledged that magnetic lifters seized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in August may have contained at least P6.8 billion worth in methamphetamine hydrocholoride (shabu). Lapeña will be replaced at the BOC by former Armed Forces chief and current Marina Administration Administrator Leonardo Rey Guerrero, who was named to the post in April.

Philippines' Duterte boosts imports to fight inflation Nikkei Asian Review 25th Sep 2018
Stubbornly high inflation has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order government agencies to step up food imports while enlisting police to crack down on price manipulators. Duterte, in an executive order signed on Sept. 21 but made public on Tuesday, directed the Department of Trade and Industry, National Food Authority and Sugar Regulatory Administration to ease restrictions on food imports and lift nontariff barriers to make commodities immediately available to consumers. Officials said last week that the move will eliminate middlemen who bloat prices.

Singapore

New digital trade platform to streamline end-to-end trade processes Channel NewsAsia 25th Oct 2018
Digitising trade documentation and processes will help raise productivity, boost competitiveness and create new opportunities, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday (Sep 26) at the unveiling of the new Networked Trade Platform (NTP). Currently, a single trade can involve over 25 parties, generating 30 to 40 documents, as well as requiring 60 to 70 per cent of information to be manually re-entered at least once.

Singapore Customs posts changes to the prohibition of imports, exports, transshipments and goods in transit from or to North Korea Baker McKenzie 18th Oct 2018
On 16 October 2018, Singapore Customs posted Circular No. 10/2018 which announces updated regulations governing the prohibition of imports, exports, transshipments and goods in transit from or to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). Under Regulation 6(1)(b) of the Regulation of Imports and Exports Regulations, the importation into, exportation from, or transhipment or transit through Singapore of any goods which will contravene the decisions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in resolutions made under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, are prohibited.

EU emerges as champion of free trade with Singapore deal South China Morning Post 20th Oct 2018
The European Union and Singapore signed the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which will boost services, improve market access, and see tariffs between both parties eliminated in five years.

Thailand

Customs to tighten up watch on couriers of brand-name products Thai PBS 24th Sep 2018
The Customs Department will set up an intelligence gathering centre to keep track on people posing as passengers but in fact are couriers smuggling in brand-name products from overseas.   These people often have customers who give them advance orders.

Thailand taken off ivory trade watch list The Nation 5th Oct 2018
 Somkiat Sunthornpitakkul, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation's Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Division revealed the improved status on Friday. The decision was made at the 70th meeting of the CITES standing committee that was held from October 1 to 5 in Russia. CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Cabinet approves Hong Kong office Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
The cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill to protect and offer privileges to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Thailand to improve economic ties and link the country to China's new overseas investment strategy. Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the PM's Office Minister, said the draft bill also covers an exemption of value-added tax (VAT) and personal income tax waivers to officials who work for the new office.

Vietnam

Highlight on documents posted on e-customs Portal in 1st week of Oct, 2018 Vietnam Customs 23rd Oct 2018
From 01 to 05 Oct, 2018, the e-Customs Portal has been updated with some documents on policy for goods purchased from inland areas into the specific customs area, rules of origin in the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Area Agreement; e-transactions on digital signatures and digital signature authentic services.

Implementation of National Single Window for entry or exit procedures of vessels at Long Binh inland sea port Vietnam Customs 5th Oct 2018
The General Department of Vietnam Customs officially announced that procedures of vessels on entry or exit at Long Binh inland seaport would be operated through the National Single Window system (Long Binh inland seaport at Long Binh Ward, District 9, Ho Chi Minh City) Accordingly, all shipping lines, agents, forwarders will carry out declaration procedures related to vessels on exit and entry at the Long Binh inland seaport including the e-manifest through the National Single Window Portal at https://vnsw.gov.vn from 05th Oct. 2018. When declaring on the NSW Portal, the declarants must use the digital signature.

Vietnam to host 13th ASEM Customs DG-Commissioners Meeting VietnamPlus 24th Oct 2018
The General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) will host the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Customs Directors-General and Commissioners Meeting in October 2019. The GDVC plans to propose some priorities to be added into the ASEM customs action