Customs Update: July 11, 2019

Customs Update | July 11, 2019
Authors: Michaela Wong, Dim Mang
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

July 31, 2019: 2019 Philippines Business Mission Planning Call #1

2019 Thailand Business Mission, August 13-16, 2019, Bangkok

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Trump’s tariffs and Vietnam’s response 

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed duties of more than 400% on steel imports from Vietnam in an effort to curb businesses from buying goods that have been routed through Vietnam.  U.S.-Vietnam trade activity has soared in the first half of 2019, in large part due to an increase in products sent through Vietnam for “minor processing” before hitting the U.S. to avoid higher duties on steel products originally from South Korea and Taiwan. Customs officials have been ordered to collect cash deposits on imports of steel products produced in Vietnam using materials from South Korea and Taiwan, with some rates as high as 456.23% 

Vietnam’s annual trade surplus reached $39.5 billion last year, the highest in records going back to 1990. This is partly due to US companies evading levies through transshipment, which is when packages briefly stop at a third port where the origins are altered.  Seemingly the short-term beneficiary of the US-China trade war, the country is now facing the ire of President Trump, who stated Vietnam “takes advantage of us even worse than China”. 

President Trump’s threats of tariffs on Vietnam will hurt the growing economy, and the country has responded by stating that it will reduce its trade surplus with the United States and crack down on Chinese manufacturers who are rerouting goods through Vietnam to bypass higher tariffs.  In July, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report found that the gains from an increase in exports to the U.S. have been offset by a surge in imports from China to Vietnam since the trade dispute began.  

Philippine Customs launch 6 computer systems in modernization efforts 

On Monday, June 17, the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) launched six computer information programs as part of the government’s modernization efforts.  These systems are part of an initiative by the BOC to lessen human interaction in line with the department’s processes, as well as to cut corruption.  The BOC used in-house talent and equipment, spending less than PHP 10 million (USD 194,765) by doing so.   

The six programs are the Customs Care Program, Document Tracking System, Goods Declaration and Verification System, National Value Verification System, Alert Order Monitoring System, and the BOC Dashboard.  More details on these programs can be found here.  The systems were piloted two months prior to the launch and are in the process of being implemented nationwide.  Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero hopes that these in-house programs can lead to further expansion of Philippine investment, as well as the adoption of more robust systems and full modernization programs.   

By working with the World Bank, Guerrero believes that his department can source it and continue to implement these programs nationwide.  Full-scale modernization efforts will be funded by a loan from the World Bank, specifically the BOC’s plans to shift to a fully automated customs processing system which is required under the proposed USD 150 million loan from the Bank.

Duterte to fire Customs officials

On Friday, July 5, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he will fire 64 employees from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) due to allegations of corruption in the agency. This week, he ordered the ‘freezing’ of several Customs officials and employees in the BOC, with names scheduled to be disclosed at a later time. The “relieved” employees will not be officially dismissed until they appear at the palace for their cases to be heard, after which the office of the Ombudsman will decide whether to file charges against formally dismissed officials.

Duterte’s administration states this is a continuation of their zero-tolerance policy for corruption and according to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, “No one will be spared.” Duterte believes that the BOC is among the most corrupt agencies in the government and expressed a desire for the military to take over the bureau after a high-value drug shipment slipped past in October 2018.

The Customs Bureau is no stranger to allegations of corruption, as the agency has experienced three leadership changes in the first three years of the Duterte administration, in part due to alleged drug smuggling. The president’s plans, specifically a military “take over” of the BOC, have been strongly opposed by his critics, who believe that this is a violation of the 1987 Constitution, which states that “civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military”.  Duterte continues to urge corrupt officials to resign before his administration acts against them.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
APEC
APEC boosts confidence in e-commerce with stronger accountability system

ASEAN
ASEAN manufacturing index falls as operating conditions worsen
US Firms Actively Rerouting Goods To Southeast Asia To Avoid Trump's Tariffs
Report highlights impact of ASEAN non-tariff barriers in 3 key sectors
ASEAN leaders to adopt regional strategy for Indo-Pacific
Protesters in Thailand urge Asean leaders to ban trash imports
Trade disputes to dominate as ASEAN meets in Bangkok

Cambodia
Cambodia launches National Single Window
US fines companies exporting goods via Cambodia to dodge China tariffs

Indonesia
Indonesia to return 49 containers of waste to Europe, US
Tanjung Priok to start 24/7 operations to boost exports
Jokowi signs Government Regulation on National Export Financing
Jokowi Pushes for Speedy Export-oriented Business Licensing
Bekraf pushes for more trade deals to boost creative exports
Although the Trade Balance Surplus, Weakening Exports Still Shadowed
ASEAN ministers agree to conclude Economic Partnership agreement
APEC's goods trade tapers yet services trade picks up

Laos
Ways sought to bolster Vietnam - Laos trade turnover
Laos Swine Flu Outbreak Sees Thailand, China Ban Pig Imports
Laos Improves Trade Regulations for Foreign Companies

Malaysia
Customs seizes 5,255 baby tortoises destined for India
Malaysia looking into e-commerce tax
Export value of Malaysia's chocolate on the rise since 2015
Malaysia cuts off sand exports to Singapore, jeopardising expansion plans of 'wealthy' neigbhour

Myanmar
Chinese Thirst For Crude Oil Growing; Nearly Equals The Total Production Of Saudi Arabia | Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
Myanmar major contributor of smuggled gold to India
Meghalaya: Drugs seized
Myanmar to ease decades-old alcohol import ban

Philippines
No escaping burning smell in the Philippines’ ‘Plastic City’
Bureau of Customs enhances ease of doing business with 6 modern information systems
PH fuel marking program implementing rules issued
USCG: 3 Philippines ports ‘significantly improved’
Collect only authorized fees, BOC chief reminds staff
BOC issues rules on registration of customs brokers
BoC tariff questioned by meat processors group
PHL looks to export Mirage G4, Vios to Jakarta to cut trade gap
More cross-border trade, transport links in BIMP sought
PH, Indonesia talk ways to reduce trade imbalance

Singapore
A future without lost mail: Stamps with QR codes being studied in postal service overhaul
Talks ongoing for Pacific Alliance-Singapore FTA; potential partnerships for food and tech

Thailand
Curbs slash imports of plastic, e-waste
Thai exports drop for third straight month in May
Used-car import ban takes effect Dec 10
3 more countries for NSW system

Vietnam
The case of importing shoe from China labeled ‘Made in Vietnam’: TOPPER shoes are being sold on the internet
Vietnam, EU sign free trade, investment accords
U.S. Slaps Import Duties of More Than 400% on Vietnam Steel
Vietnam and the European Union sign comprehensive free trade and investment protection agreements
Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can had bilateral negotiations with Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Vietnamese, Japanese Prime Ministers hold talks
Goods infringing intellectual property rights will be sanctioned
Vietnam Buys More U.S. Goods After Trump Calls It Trade Abuser
Trade-war winner Vietnam is now a target for Trump’s tariffs
The Ministry of Finance chaired on customs management and trade facilitation in CPTPP
New tax law makes it easier to manage online businesses
One time ruling Reduce time and costs for enterprises
Exports of Vietnamese phones and ‘billion dollar’ commodity groups
Demand for container shipments in Vietnam surges amid US-China trade war
Agencies admit there is no regulation on ‘made-in-Vietnam’ products
Textile and garment industry sees great opportunities in EVFTA
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
APEC

APEC boosts confidence in e-commerce with stronger accountability system Asia Customs & Trade 24th Jun 2019
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has tapped a third accountability agent that will help assure consumers that their personal data is safe when they transact with participating e-commerce companies. In a release, the APEC said that to strengthen consumer confidence in e-commerce in the Pacific Rim region, the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system has added Schellman, a leading provider of attestation and compliance services, to its roster of accountability agents who ensure that participating firms are safeguarding consumers’ personal information while fostering growth of the digital economy.

ASEAN

ASEAN manufacturing index falls as operating conditions worsen Asia Customs & Trade 2nd Jul 2019
Manufacturing conditions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) deteriorated in June 2019 as employment fell at its quickest pace in 20 months and output recorded only marginal growth, according to the IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The PMI fell below the crucial 50.0 mark separating improvement from deterioration, posting 49.7 in June, down from 50.6 in May. It was the first slowdown at ASEAN manufacturing firms in four months, but was only fractional. In fact, five of the seven monitored countries continued to report stronger business conditions, although three of these saw growth weaken compared to the previous month.

US Firms Actively Rerouting Goods To Southeast Asia To Avoid Trump's Tariffs Business Times 27th Jun 2019
US companies who still have Chinese business partners are reportedly now finding ways to dodge Trump's tariffs by rerouting their shipments to other Southeast Asian countries. Billions of dollars worth of goods are reported being sent to countries like Vietnam, which are then sent to China masquerading as Vietnamese shipments. Following Trump's increased tariffs, raised from 10 percent to 25 percent, on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese exports, US companies have been secretly evading the added levies through a practice known as transshipment.

Report highlights impact of ASEAN non-tariff barriers in 3 key sectors Asia Customs & Trade 26th Jun 2019
Two business groups in a new report expressed concern over the large number of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the automotive, agri-food, and healthcare sectors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) in the joint report launched June 22 aired concern over the slow progress in NTB removal in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the continued impact this has on holding back intra-ASEAN trade and achieving the full benefits of economic integration.

ASEAN leaders to adopt regional strategy for Indo-Pacific Asia Customs & Trade 24th Jun 2019
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have agreed to adopt a self-developed regional strategy for closer cooperation and enhanced community building in the Indo-Pacific region amidst elevated global trade tensions. In a statement the ASEAN leaders said they have approved the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” a document that “intends to enhance ASEAN’s Community building process and to strengthen and give new momentum for existing ASEAN-led mechanisms to better face challenges and seize opportunities arising from the current and future regional and global environments.”

Protesters in Thailand urge Asean leaders to ban trash imports The Straits Times 20th Jun 2019
Protesters in Bangkok on Thursday (June 20) dumped plastic waste in front of a government building and called on South-east Asian leaders to ban imports of trash from developed countries. The protest comes ahead of a weekend meeting of the 10-member Asean, with many countries struggling to deal with the flood of plastic waste unleashed by China's decision last year to stop importing recyclables from abroad. Countries in Asean now receive more than a quarter of global plastic waste, most of which comes from developed economies like Canada, the US, Australia and Japan.

Trade disputes to dominate as ASEAN meets in Bangkok The Jakarta Post 20th Jun 2019
Southeast Asian leaders will dissect the impact of the US-China tariff war this weekend at a Bangkok summit, with Beijing determined to drive forward a trade pact sweeping in 40 percent of global commerce -- but excluding America. Disputes in the flashpoint South China Sea and Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims are also likely to make the agenda at the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting starting Saturday in the Thai capital. But commerce will dominate, with the trade war between the world's two biggest economies pushing some major manufacturers to flee China to Southeast Asia and casting doubts over the future of free trade.

Cambodia

Cambodia launches National Single Window Asia Customs & Trade 6th Jul 2019
Cambodia has launched its National Single Window (NSW) aimed at facilitating import and export activities. Inaugurated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance late June, the NSW joined July 1, 2019 the live implementation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) to exchange Form D’s electronically, according to local reports. The NSW is an internet-based facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. Authorized agencies are allowed to register for information submitted electronically, and individual data elements will only be submitted once, according to a statement released by the ministry.

US fines companies exporting goods via Cambodia to dodge China tariffs South China Morning Post 19th Jun 2019
The United States has fined several companies for exporting goods via a Chinese-owned special economic zone in Cambodia in a bid to dodge President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports, a US embassy official said on Wednesday. “The Department of Homeland Security has inspected and fined a number of companies for evading tariffs in the United States by routing goods through Cambodia,” US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said in an emailed statement. “These companies are located in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone,” said Zwartjes, who did not name or say how many companies had been fined for avoiding the tariffs, how large the fines were, or what goods the companies had been exporting.

Indonesia

Indonesia to return 49 containers of waste to Europe, US France 24 2nd Jul 2019
Dozens of shipping containers full of waste will be returned to France and other developed countries, Indonesia said Tuesday, as Southeast Asian nations increasingly reject serving as dumping grounds for international trash. The 49 containers were loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in violation of import rules, according to customs officials on Batam island. "We are coordinating the with the importer to immediately process their return," customs office spokesman Sumarna, who goes by one name, told AFP. The waste came from the United States, Australia, France, Germany and Hong Kong, he added.

Tanjung Priok to start 24/7 operations to boost exports The Jakarta Post 8th Jul 2019
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has said that the government plans to operate Tanjung Priok Seaport in North Jakarta, the country’s largest port, for 24 hours seven days a week in trying to boost exports. He said all sections at the port – the port office, customs and excise office, immigration, port operator, banks and other stakeholders – would also be required to adjust their working hours to follow the policy.

Jokowi signs Government Regulation on National Export Financing Antara News 8th Jul 2019
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) signed a Government Regulation (PP) on the National Export Financing (PEN) Basic Policy, effective June 25, 2019. The regulation, PP No. 43 of 2019, was signed on June 18, 2019, the cabinet secretariat noted on its official website on Monday. The government perceives the urgency to have in place a policy to support the national export development program that can boost the national economy.

Jokowi Pushes for Speedy Export-oriented Business Licensing Tempo 8th Jul 2019
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pushed his cabinet ministers to accelerate licensing for export-oriented industries. “In terms of investments, maybe I have mentioned it numerous times, export-related investments, that are related to import substitution must be given permits as soon as possible. But the reality in the field isn’t like that,” said Jokowi in a plenary cabinet meeting held at the Bogor Palace on Monday.

Bekraf pushes for more trade deals to boost creative exports The Jakarta Post 1st Jul 2019
The Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) has called on the government to intensify its efforts to establish more trade deals with foreign countries to boost exports of creative products, as the country was not reaping the full potential of the creative economy. Bekraf head Triawan Munaf said the agency had set an export target for creative goods this year that was 8 percent higher, from $20 billion in 2018 to US$21.8 billion in 2019.

Although the Trade Balance Surplus, Weakening Exports Still Shadowed Katadata 24th Jun 2019
The Central Statistics Agency ( BPS ) reported a May 2019 trade balance surplus of US $ 210 million, or improved compared to the previous month's incision which recorded the worst deficit in history of US $ 2.5 billion. Despite the supply, exports that are still weakening as a whole still overshadow the trade balance. According to BPS, the May trade balance surplus was supported by an increase of 12.42% in exports compared to April 2019 to US $ 14.74 billion. This was also accompanied by a decline in imports of 5.62% to US $ 14.53 billion.

ASEAN ministers agree to conclude Economic Partnership agreement Antara News 22nd Jun 2019
Trade ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have decided to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement among ASEAN members this year. "ASEAN trade ministers have agreed and committed themselves to conclude the RCEP this year," Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said, on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday.

APEC's goods trade tapers yet services trade picks up Antara News 20th Jun 2019
Trade -- earlier the main driver of growth for the Pacific Rim region -- is slackening, and its moderation is having an impact on the economy, according to the latest APEC Regional Trends Analysis (ARTA). In 2018, APEC had borne witness to growth discrepancy throughout the region despite overall improvement in growth of 4.1 percent than four percent in 2017, as noted in a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat and received here on Thursday.

Laos

Ways sought to bolster Vietnam - Laos trade turnover Voice of Vietnam 4th Jul 2019
Concerned efforts would be exerted to enable Vietnam’s full-year 2019 exports to Laos to grow by 10 per cent on year.The target was mentioned at a recent border trade promotion conference held in Xiengkhuang province in Laos. The event aimed at enhancing border trade cooperation between the four Vietnamese frontier provinces of Dien Bien, Son La, Thanh Hoa, and Nghe An and the four northern localities of Laos, including Luang Prabang, Phongsaly, Houaphanh, and Xiengkhuang.

Laos Swine Flu Outbreak Sees Thailand, China Ban Pig Imports Laotian Times 24th Jun 2019
China and Thailand have both ban pork and pig product imports from Laos following the country’s first outbreak of African swine fever. The first cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been reported in Laos, with seven outbreaks across villages in Salavanh Province, leading to the deaths of 973 animals according to the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Laos Improves Trade Regulations for Foreign Companies The Laotian Times 19th Jun 2019
Foreign companies that export products to Laos will no longer require a domestic business license under new trade regulations issued by the Ministry of Commerce. Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce, issued a ministerial decision on June 6 ending the requirement for a domestic business license by foreign firms exporting products to Laos.

Malaysia

Customs seizes 5,255 baby tortoises destined for India The Star Online 26th Jun 2019
The Customs Department has seized 5,255 baby tortoises from two suspects on transit to India. In a press conference at the department's office here, Central Zone Customs assistant director-general, Datuk Zulkurnain Mohamed Yusuf said that the seizure was made on June 20 at KLIA2. "The two men had just arrived from Guangzhou, China. The checks conducted on their luggage led to the discovery of the red-eared slider tortoises. "They were kept in baskets placed in their suitcases," he said. Further inspections on the animals showed that not all survived the trip, as the suitcases had no special tools or food to keep the tortoises alive. The department estimated the total worth of the seizure to be around RM52,550.

Malaysia looking into e-commerce tax OpenGov Asia 25th Jun 2019
Malaysia’s Prime Minister reportedly stated that the country should impose an e-commerce tax against online businesses, given how their growth presently exceeds that of businesses utilising ‘traditional’ models such as physical retail stores. Speaking to reporters after the 34th ASEAN Summit gala dinner on 22 June 2019, the PM noted that governments have been collecting “less tax” as many brick-and-mortar stores have been shutting down, as many goods can be bought online now. Online business is affecting other businesses. Through direct-selling, less tax is obtained, also the tax goes to the country where the product is generated, and Malaysia is not able to make anything, he said.

Export value of Malaysia's chocolate on the rise since 2015 CNA 24th Jun 2019
Malaysian manufactured chocolates have been well received overseas with the export value showing a rise since 2015. The export value rose to RM598.09 million (US$144 million) in 2016 compared to RM470.99 million previously, primary industries minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim said on Monday (Jun 24). The export value in 2017 also rose to RM868.60 million, she added. "In 2018, the export value was even higher at RM1.03 billion, while for the first quarter of this year (January to March) it registered RM233.42 million," she added. At present, Malaysian chocolates are exported to 128 countries with key market segments being Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Japan and China.

Malaysia cuts off sand exports to Singapore, jeopardising expansion plans of 'wealthy' neigbhour The Telegraph 8th Jul 2019
Malaysia has stopped selling sea sand to Singapore, cutting off the tiny island nation’s main source of one of the key materials it needs for extensive expansion plans. Those plans include the development of the Tuas mega port, expected to be the world’s biggest container terminal. Malaysia exports roughly £277m in sand to Singapore, which accounts for around 97 per cent of its sand supplies. Singapore, a city-state of 5.6 million people, has increased its land area by a quarter since it gained independence in 1965, growing from 224 square miles to just under 280 square miles, and has largely been able to do so by using sand to reclaim coastal areas.

Myanmar

Chinese Thirst For Crude Oil Growing; Nearly Equals The Total Production Of Saudi Arabia | Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide Hellenic Shipping News 8th Jul 2019
On July 2, 2019, Reuters news agency reported that the government agencies in China (PRC) provided additional import quotas of another 56.85 million tons of crude oil by the end of this year to their largest refiners including 33 private and 10 state or provincial refiners. The total amount of permitted import quotas for 2019 in the PRC will amount to 151 million tons, which is equivalent to 3.02 million barrels per day. Over the past four years, Chinese refiners continue to influence domestic oil demand in China, which contributes to maintaining stable world prices, globally.

Myanmar major contributor of smuggled gold to India The Asian Age 5th Jul 2019
If the records of seizure of gold by customs and other related agencies in the Northeast were any indicator, Myanmar, which was earlier known for the trade of illegal arms, is now turning into a major transit point of smuggled gold to India. The customs sleuths seized 3,223 kg gold worth Rs 974 crore in 2017-18 which is the only 5-10 per cent of the total illegal trade that could be detected and seized. According to a conservative estimate of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the total market of smuggled gold in India is nothing less than Rs 9,000 crore.

Meghalaya: Drugs seized The Statesman 1st Jul 2019
Even as the world observed International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking last week, the rise in cases of drug abuse and trafficking has become a major cause of concern for Meghalaya, says a report in the Guwahati-based Assam Tribune. Several narcotics-related cases have been registered during the last one year. Apart from the state police, Customs officials have made huge seizures. From 2018 till date, the Shillong-based Commissionerate of Customs (Preventive), NE Region, has seized 1.37 kg of heroin. Apart from that 12.6 kg opium, 1.6 kg cocaine, 0.47 gm morphine, 2306.08 kg ganja and 3, 24,024 methamphetamine tablets and 303 bottles of phensedyl were seized.

Myanmar to ease decades-old alcohol import ban The Myanmar Times 19th Jun 2019
Assistant secretary U Khin Maung Lwin told The Myanmar Times that the ministry is currently drafting a bill allowing the import of foreign spirits. After the bill is finalised based on inputs from different departments, it will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office for input. The liberalisation is expected to pave the way for more direct foreign investment in the beverage industry and hit the thriving black market. The restriction on alcohol imports has resulted in massive quantities of foreign alcohol being smuggled into Myanmar, fuelling illicit trade. Customs department data suggests that 1.3 million litres of distilled spirits valued at almost US$8 million was legally imported in 2017-18.

Philippines

No escaping burning smell in the Philippines’ ‘Plastic City’ South China Morning Post 8th Jul 2019
As noon approaches in Valenzuela City and residents prepare to have lunch, a pungent smell of melted plastic swirls through the air, killing everyone’s appetite. “It gets suffocating in the evening. We have to close our windows despite the heat and bury our noses under our blankets when we sleep,” said Rosalie Esplana, 40. The area on the outskirts of the Philippine capital of Manila, has been dubbed Plastic City. Its ramshackle streets are home to tiny houses sandwiched next to large factories, belching out fumes. Residents have been plagued by foul odours, which they claim come from a neighbouring recycling plant, STC Enterprises. Locals allege emissions from the plant have caused several residents to develop a lingering cough – a claim the plant owners deny.

Bureau of Customs enhances ease of doing business with 6 modern information systems OpenGov Asia 8th Jul 2019
The Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) had recently launched six (6) modern information systems that are aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business with the Agency and reduce red tape and eliminate corruption. These systems were created to eliminate or lessen human interaction in line with the Agency’s processes, as well as cut the avenues for corruption. According to a recent report, the six computer systems form part of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero’s 10-point priority program for 2019.

PH fuel marking program implementing rules issued Asia Customs & Trade 6th Jul 2019
The Philippine government has finally released implementing guidelines for the fuel marking program designed to curb oil smuggling and plug revenue losses arising from illegal importation or misdeclaration of petroleum products. Joint Circular (JC) No. 01-2019 gives customs and internal revenue officers police powers to search premises, vehicles or vessels when there is probable cause or verified information that adulterated or diluted fuel is produced or stored in the facility. JC 01-2019 implements the mandatory marking of refined, manufactured, or imported gasoline, diesel and kerosene in the Philippines, including those withdrawn from freeport zones to be introduced into the country, after taxes and duties have been paid.

USCG: 3 Philippines ports ‘significantly improved’ Asia Cargo News 1st Jul 2019
Three of the Philippine’s container ports have been judged significantly improved in the conduct of the United States Coast Guard’s International Port Security Program (IPSP) following a recent visit by the USCG. The three are the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC), Davao International Container Terminal (DICT) and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), the Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement. “We appreciate the USCG team for the visit and the assessment, as this will give us the baseline for our security standards as maritime trading partners. We value all efforts that will further enhance our interdependence leading to mutual prosperity,” said transportation secretary Arthur Tugade.

Collect only authorized fees, BOC chief reminds staff PortCalls Asia 20th Jun 2019
Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero has ordered all Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials and employees to collect only authorized fees and charges from the transacting public. Under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 30-2019, with the subject “Allowed Fees and Charges Imposed by the Bureau of Customs”, the Customs chief said any unauthorized collection or illegal imposition of fees and charges “shall be criminally and administratively charged and punished to the full extent of the law.” The existing fees and charges are listed as an annex to CMO 30-2019. The order was signed on June 18.

BOC issues rules on registration of customs brokers Asia Customs & Trade 19th Jun 2019
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has released guidelines on the registration of customs brokers and their representatives transacting with the customs agency. Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2019, signed by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on April 26 and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on May 6, contains many similar rules from previous regulations, including the need for customs brokers who lodge and process goods declaration at the BOC to register and obtain a Certificate of Registration (COR) from the customs bureau.

BoC tariff questioned by meat processors group The Manila Times Online 8th Jul 2019
A group of meat processors has demanded the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to return the excessive amount of duties and taxes collected by the bureau from their importation of mechanically deboned meat (MDM). In a letter to BoC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) asked the agency to revert to the 5-percent tariff on MDM, the raw materials used to produce hotdogs, sausages and canned meat products.

PHL looks to export Mirage G4, Vios to Jakarta to cut trade gap BusinessMirror 26th Jun 2019
The Philippines is eyeing to export Mitsubishi Mirage G4 and Toyota Vios, as well as automobile parts, to Indonesia to trim the trade gap between the two economies. On the sidelines of 34th Asean Summit last week, Indonesia agreed to import more agricultural products and automobile parts from the Philippines. The deal was reached after Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez raised before Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita the widening trade gap between Manila and Jakarta. Lopez also noted Indonesia is one of the Southeast Asian powerhouses in vehicle production and that even the Philippines imports the Toyota Fortuner from it.

More cross-border trade, transport links in BIMP sought Asia Customs & Trade 25th Jun 2019
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to adopt a common set of standards for non-convention ship operations and to increase maritime and air linkages for greater mobility and cross-border trade in the sub-region. Duterte also asked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to speed up discussions on the barter trade system between the Philippines and Malaysia. “I earnestly ask His Excellency the Prime Minister of Malaysia for our two countries to fast track negotiations on the barter trade system as this promises livelihood and income to small communities along border areas,” Duterte said during his intervention at the recent 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines–East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit in Malaysia.

PH, Indonesia talk ways to reduce trade imbalance Asia Customs & Trade 25th Jun 2019
The Philippines is looking to bridge its trade gap with Indonesia by exporting more agricultural products and automobile parts, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Philippines, through Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, discussed trade opportunities with his Indonesian counterpart, Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita. The ministers also agreed to organize a business matching session in Indonesia possibly around August or September 2019.

Singapore

A future without lost mail: Stamps with QR codes being studied in postal service overhaul The Straits Times 8th Jul 2019
Lost mail may one day be a thing of the past, if SingPost's ambitious plan to track all postal items here comes to fruition. It is working on a stamp prototype with QR codes that will enable mail articles to be scanned and tracked throughout the delivery process, SingPost's Singapore head and chief executive of postal services Vincent Phang told The Straits Times. "Once a sender locks in this stamp, say, through an app, it codes the sender's and recipient's information to the QR code," he said. "We can even explore sending some form of notification to the recipient to say there's something coming to him." While only a minority of mail can currently be tracked, "we see a future where every delivery is a trackable delivery", he added.

Talks ongoing for Pacific Alliance-Singapore FTA; potential partnerships for food and tech The Straits Times 6th Jul 2019
Negotiations on the Pacific Alliance-Singapore free trade agreement (FTA) are under way, involving a grouping of four countries - Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru - which Singapore traded $5.9 billion in goods with last year. Highlighting the importance of connectivity between Singapore and the alliance of the four Latin American nations at the 14th Pacific Alliance Summit, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said an FTA between both parties opens investment opportunities across a range of sectors.

Thailand

Curbs slash imports of plastic, e-waste Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2019
Imports of plastic and electronic waste have declined sharply after the government curbed imports of foreign waste, says the Customs Department. Plastic waste imported to Thailand fell to 174,000 tonnes during the five months to May from 571,000 tonnes for the full year of 2018, while e-waste import volume plunged to 12,200 tonnes in the January-May period from 51,500 tonnes last year, said Krisada Chinavicharana, director-general of the Customs Department. Southeast Asian countries have become a dumping ground for plastic and high-tech trash shipped from advanced economies like Japan, Europe, Canada and the US after China imposed a ban on such imports.

Thai exports drop for third straight month in May Asia Customs & Trade 24th Jun 2019
Thailand’s customs-cleared exports dropped for a third straight month in May, down 5.79% from a year earlier, after contracting 2.57% in April, mainly due to lower shipments of cars and parts, electronics, and oil, the Thai Ministry of Commerce said. Thai shipments to China fell 7.2% year-on-year in May, while exports to the U.S. climbed 7.85%, a ministry official said. Meanwhile, imports contracted 0.64% in May from a year earlier, after falling 0.72% in the prior month. In January-May, exports fell 2.7% annually, while imports dipped 0.99%. With this development, Thailand’s export sector has raised its concern over the trade war between the United States and China, which, along with the world economic slowdown, has been attributed to the decline in the volume of export cargoes.

Used-car import ban takes effect Dec 10 Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
Imports of second-hand vehicles will no longer be allowed after Dec 9 this year as authorities step up curbs on fraud, irregularities, corruption and pollution, according to the Commerce Ministry. Currently, people can bring in used cars from abroad but they have to apply for import permits from the ministry first. The ministerial order on the ban, published in the Royal Gazette on June 13, takes effect 180 days later, or on Dec 10.

3 more countries for NSW system Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
The Customs Department aims to link the National Single Window (NSW) with three more countries this year, expanding the electronic exchange system of trade-related data. The additional three countries are Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines, said director-general Krisada Chinavicharana. Cambodia started a trial run for the NSW with Thailand at the beginning of July, he said. The Customs Department is also developing the NSW electronic exchange system for China and South Korea, aiming to ease trade with these countries

Vietnam

The case of importing shoe from China labeled ‘Made in Vietnam’: TOPPER shoes are being sold on the internet Customs News 10th Jul 2019
TOPPER shoes are still advertised for online sale with the information of exported goods to Argentina. As the news published by Customs News, Hai Phong Customs is clarifying a violation sign of one container of shoes imported temporarily from China. Specifically, there was a white stamp with the words ‘MADE IN VIETNAM’ attached with the information written in Argentina inside the shoe branded TOPPER. The shipment was declared by Lac Lac Co., Ltd (address in Hanoi) to implement temporary import and re-export procedures with information of sports shoes of all kinds in Vietnam.

Vietnam, EU sign free trade, investment accords Asia Customs & Trade 3rd Jul 2019
The European Union (EU) and Vietnam have inked a trade deal that underscores the two sides’ commitment to free trade and economic cooperation in the face of rising protectionism and trade conflicts. Vietnam and the EU signed the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) on June 30 in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi. Amid growing protectionism, security challenges, and difficulties facing global trade, the signing of the two agreements opens a new horizon for a larger and more comprehensive cooperation and stronger trade between Vietnam and the EU, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said after the signing.

U.S. Slaps Import Duties of More Than 400% on Vietnam Steel Bloomberg 3rd Jul 2019
The U.S. Commerce Department imposed duties of more than 400% on steel imports from Vietnam, accusing some businesses of shipping products from the Southeast Asian nation to evade the levies in a further escalation of tension between the two trading partners. In three preliminary circumvention rulings on Vietnamese steel, the Commerce Department said certain products produced in South Korea and Taiwan were shipped to Vietnam for minor processing before being exported to U.S. as corrosion-resistant steel products and cold-rolled steel. Customs officials have been ordered to collect cash deposits at rates as high as 456.23% on imports of the steel products produced in Vietnam using material from South Korea and Taiwan.

Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can had bilateral negotiations with Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Customs News 1st Jul 2019
Outside the 133th/134th meetings of the annual conference of Customs cooperation coucil (World Customs Organisation – WCO) held from 27 to 29 June 2019 at the headquarters of the WCO in Brussels, Belgium, on June 28, Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can had a bilateral negotiation with Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. At the meeting, the two parties informed each other on the completion of internal procedures for the preparation of the signing of the Government-level Agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in the customs field at the meeting of the senior leaders of the two countries in the future.

Vietnamese, Japanese Prime Ministers hold talks Customs News 1st Jul 2019
PM Phuc congratulated Japanese people on the great event of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne and the successful organisation of the 14th G20 Summit in Osaka. He affirmed that Vietnam always considers Japan an important, long-term and reliable partner. For his part, PM Abe highly valued Vietnam’s position, role and external achievements over the past time, as well as its initiatives and active contributions to the G20 Summit. He described the over 330,000-strong overseas Vietnamese community in Japan as an “invaluable mutual property” of the two countries’ relations.

Goods infringing intellectual property rights will be sanctioned Customs News 1st Jul 2019
The General Department of Vietnam Customs will sanction firms involved with goods infringing intellectual property rights for problems related to handling confiscated goods according to administrative procedures by Binh Duong Customs Department for CHAMPION trademark. According to Binh Duong Customs Department, when handling confiscated goods according to administrative procedures, there is a case of H.Seven Textile Co., Ltd storing import and export goods without legal documents in Customs operation areas, violating the provisions at Point a, Clause 2, Article 12 of Decree 127/2013/ND-CP that has been amended and supplemented in Clause 9, Article 1 of Decree 45/2016/ND-CP.

Vietnam Buys More U.S. Goods After Trump Calls It Trade Abuser Bloomberg 29th Jun 2019
Vietnam is buying more U.S. goods to help it reduce a $39.5 billion surplus, after President Donald Trump called the country a trade abuser. “Vietnam has made great efforts to improve the trade balance between the two countries, increasing imports,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement late Friday. Vietnam is improving investment conditions for U.S. companies while encouraging Vietnamese businesses to invest in the U.S., Hang said. Trump, asked this week on Fox Business Network if he wanted to impose tariffs on Vietnam, said: “Well, we’re in discussions with Vietnam.” He described the Southeast Asian nation as “almost the single worst abuser of everybody.”

Trade-war winner Vietnam is now a target for Trump’s tariffs The Star Online 27th Jun 2019
Vietnam’s recent fame as a big winner of the U.S.-China trade war may be bringing it unwanted attention from President Donald Trump. When asked in an interview with Fox Business Network if he wanted to impose tariffs on Vietnam, Trump said: "Well, we’re in discussions with Vietnam. Vietnam is almost the single worst -- that’s much smaller than China, much -- but it’s almost the single worst abuser of everybody.” Just last month, the U.S. Treasury added Vietnam to a watchlist of countries it’s monitoring for possible currency manipulation. The nation's benchmark VN Index slumped 1.7% Thursday, to the lowest since Feb. 12.

The Ministry of Finance chaired on customs management and trade facilitation in CPTPP Customs News 25th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed a decision to assign focal point agencies for implementing the Comprehensive and Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is in charge of implementing the following contents: Initial provisions and general definitions; cross-border trade in services; competition policy; cooperation and strengthen capacity; improve competitiveness and facilitate business operations; rules of origin and procedures for certification of origin; safeguarding measures; and temporary entry for businessmen.

New tax law makes it easier to manage online businesses Customs News 21st Jun 2019
On June 13, the amended Law on Tax Administration was officially approved by the National Assembly. One of the significant changes inthis law is about tax on e-commerce. Ms. Ta Thi Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of the Tax Administration Department of small and medium enterprises and individual and business households, General Department of Taxation spoke more about this change. With changes in the amended Tax Administration Law approved by the National Assembly and expected to be applied from July 1, 2020, how will tax administration with online businesses change?

One time ruling Reduce time and costs for enterprises Customs News 20th Jun 2019
As one of the first enterprises registering one-time ruling at Customs Branch at Saigon Port Zone 1, Pham Tien Luc, staff of accounting division of Rong Viet Company said, after the ruling result for taxable value on imported gas cookers, the imported goods of the company no longer use the price ruling as the previous times but use the result of first ruling for customs clearance. "This is very convenient, helping the company save time and costs, because the company no longer had to move a lot and wait and the goods are cleared right after completing specialised inspection procedures" said Luc. Although one-time ruling brings many benefits, the application time of one-time ruling results is from 60-90 days, which is too short and needs to be considered to be applied from six to 12 months to create more favourable conditions for enterprises.

Exports of Vietnamese phones and ‘billion dollar’ commodity groups Customs News 19th Jun 2019
By the end of May, the country’s total exports reached over US$101 billion, up 7.1%, equivalent to US$6.7 billion, over the same period in 2018. The major export commodity groups with the sharpest growth are computers, electronic products and components increasing by US$1.45 billion, corresponding to an increase of 13.1%; textiles and garments increasing by US$1.26 billion, corresponding to an increase of 11.5%; footwear increasing US$864 million, corresponding to an increase of 13.8%; wood and wood products increasing by US$636 million, corresponding to an increase of 18.8% .

Demand for container shipments in Vietnam surges amid US-China trade war VietNamNet 8th Jul 2019
The number of container equivalents of goods shipped in and out of Vietnam annually may reach 23 million by 2025, up 64% in 2019. The number of containers handled in Vietnam will be on the rise along with the ongoing US-Sino trade war, Japanese trading house Sumitomo has predicted.  About 14 million container equivalents of goods are shipped in and out of Vietnam annually. With a growth rate of 7%, the number is expected to reach 23 million by 2025, Nikkei quoted a Sumitomo source as saying. Meanwhile, Vietnamese stock brokerage MBS said in a recent report that Vietnam would see more demand for logistics services thanks to an annual growth rate of 10% in exports set for the next three to five years. Vietnam has 1,600 ships with a total capacity of 7.8 million tons, the fourth biggest in Southeast Asia, VnExpress quoted MBS report.

Agencies admit there is no regulation on ‘made-in-Vietnam’ products VietNamNet 7th Jul 2019
Vietnam has no regulations on criteria for goods to be labeled ‘made in Vietnam’, so consumers have no basis to distinguish ‘made in Vietnam’ and foreign-made products. Government agencies have started an investigation into Asanzo electronic products following allegations that the manufacturer is importing Chinese products and selling them as its own, or made-in-Vietnam, products. Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the Asanzo plant only assembled televisions using components imported from China, whereas other home appliances sold by Asanzo were finished products purchased directly from China. Asanzo chair Pham Van Tam, at the meeting with the local press, said this claim is incorrect, though he admitted he uses Chinese components for his products.

Textile and garment industry sees great opportunities in EVFTA VietNamNet 6th Jul 2019
A number of industries that make products for export, including textiles and garments, are expected to change for the better if they can take full advantage of the value chain from EVFTA. The EU-Vietnam FTA was signed in Hanoi on June 30 after nine years of negotiation. The EU has committed to remove 85 percent of tariff lines on Vietnam’s exports soon after the agreement takes effect, while the number of tariff lines to be removed after seven years of the FTA implementation will be 99 percent. The EU is the second largest textile and garment market for Vietnam with annual growth rate of 7-10 percent, just after the US. In 2018, Vietnam exported $4 billion worth of textiles and garments to the EU.According to deputy chair of the Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association (Vitas), Truong Van Cam, the current tariff on Vietnam’s textiles and garments is 9.6 percent. But when EVFTA takes effect, the tariff will be gradually cut to zero percent within seven years. Vietnam has reasons to hope that the textile and garment export turnover may hit$40 billion with EVFTA. In its latest report, Rong Viet Securities predicted that large garment companies such as Sai Gon Garment, TNG, May 10 and Viet Tien will see considerable growth in number of orders when EVFTA takes effect.