Customs Update: August 22, 2019

Customs Update | August 22, 2019
Authors: Michaela Wong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

September 8-10: 2019 Business Mission to ASEAN Economic Ministers' (AEM) Meeting

September 16-18: 2019 Philippines Business Mission

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines Customs Faces Challenges in Drafting E-Commerce Rules

The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) is currently drafting its cross-border e-commerce regulations to address issues in the digital economy, which include de minimis thresholds, improving risk management and profiling system, and value-added tax registration of foreign e-commerce operations. The primary concern for the BOC is determining the liable party when online purchases violate customs laws and rules. During the July 26 Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference, the BOC discussed challenges with balancing the responsibilities of the online buyer with those of the e-commerce companies, which assert they operate only as online platforms. The bureau is also grappling with proper education for online consumers about their “ultimate importers” status, which requires payment for duties and taxes. Besides these main priorities, other issues raised by BOC include: the use of de minimis and its effect on BOC’s revenue collection, e-commerce shipments brought in as containerized shipments, BOC risk management, and prevention of smuggling.

BOC Assistant Commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla confirmed the BOC plans to work with industry stakeholders on developing the agency’s rules on cross-border e-commerce to build upon the growth of online purchases in the Philippines. This input would be included in a customs memorandum order that would be drafted at the level of the Project Management office. The Council will continue to provide updates on this regulation.

ASEAN Maintains Positive Outlook for ASEAN Single Window Adoption and RCEP

At the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum on July 30, ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi expressed optimism that by the end of 2019, all ASEAN countries will be connected through the ASEAN Single Window. He emphasized the need for ASEAN states to view themselves as partners rather than competitors, and said there has been much collaboration with businesses and other stakeholders to ensure ASW will soon be finalized. Currently, seven countries have rolled out the ASW Live Operation, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Myanmar and the Philippines are anticipated to join the Live Operation in November 2019, followed by Lao PDR in December 2019. The ASW benefits each AMS by streamlining trade procedures and documentations for government agencies while lowering costs for traders.

In his speech, Lim raised the digital economy is a key priority for AMS engagement, predicting it may generate around $1 billion within the next five years. He pushed for a digital trade agreement as part of ASEAN’s deliverables this year to encourage collaboration in this space. He also touched on the status of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), currently in its seventh year of negotiations, which he anticipates will be completed before 2020.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Southeast Asia poised for export boost from new US tariffs
EU struggles to strike trade pacts with major ASEAN countries
China’s trade, investment with ASEAN booms
RCEP expected to be finalised by year-end: ASEAN General Secretary
Upgraded ASEAN-China FTA protocol effective Aug in PH
ASEAN’s Lim optimistic about Single Window and RCEP in 2019
South Korea looks to Asean for help with Japan ‘trade war’

Indonesia
Indonesia seen returning to trade deficit in July
There's another trade war brewing as Indonesia threatens the EU
WCO lauds Indonesia’s ‘transformative’ customs reform journey
Indonesia sends seven containers of waste back to Hong Kong, France
Wanting to Reduce Imports, DPD Chairperson: Food Sovereignty Bill Must Be Guarded
Regarding Onion Import Corruption, Ombudsman Called the Ministry of Trade Not Transparent
The Government Gives Incentives from Import Duty to Parking for Electric Cars
EU imposes duties of up to 18 percent on Indonesian biodiese
Jokowi, Mahathir agree to fight EU's palm oil discrimination
Govt lacks ‘strong’ measures against palm oil barriers, says association

Laos
Laos, Indonesia elevate business cooperation
Vietnam and Laos promote border trade cooperation
Border trade offers an economic escape route
EU-Vietnam trade deal shows EU will bend human rights standards if the price is right | ASEAN Today
Stopping human trafficking in Lao
Dozens of live pangolins found hidden on bus in Vietnam
Cambodia and Laos casinos targeted for drug-trade money laundering
Tiger cubs found frozen to death in back of smuggler’s car

Malaysia
Activists urge customs to ban palm oil imports from Malaysia's FGV

Myanmar
Expect closer ASEAN integration on trade by year end: official
Myanmar Liquor Association urges stricter control over grey market
Stakeholders want temporary ban on refined-sugar imports
FDA declares imported flu vaccines sold online illegal

Philippines
Various issues weigh on PH customs as it drafts e-commerce rules
Implementation of PH fuel marking program starts
EO extends to 3 years zero duty on PH imports of capital equipment

Thailand
Thailand unveils $10bn stimulus package to ease trade war pain
Shipments spring to life
Cross-border trade provides bright spot as exports falter
 Stronger baht, US-China war still affecting border trade

Vietnam
Hanoi narrows 'made in Vietnam' to block Chinese detours
Approximately 553,000 records processed through National Single Window
VN production sees sharpest rise for eight months in July
Customs sector improves effectiveness of international cooperation on smuggling
Deputy PM urges for continuous reforms to facilitate trade
Vietnam Garment Makers Face Hitches in Lucrative EU Trade Deal
US tops H1 chicken exports to Vietnam
China tightens veggie and fruit import requirements for Vietnam
MoIT considers safeguard measures for apparel sector under CPTPP
Vietnamese origin of steel products needs to be transparent
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Southeast Asia poised for export boost from new US tariffs Nikkei Asian Review 12th Aug 2019
Southeast Asia will likely enjoy a boost in exports from the new U.S. tariffs on China announced recently, with more companies diverting production and shipments through the region in order to avoid higher rates. But the trade war could prove a double-edged sword. Shipments to China, Southeast Asia's biggest trading partner, are seen suffering, and it is unclear how the region will fare once the dust has settled. On Aug. 1, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese products starting Sept. 1, which is expected to affect a wide range of consumer goods such as clothing and shoes. Southeast Asian businesses see big opportunities in the likely drop in Chinese shipments.

EU struggles to strike trade pacts with major ASEAN countries Nikkei Asian Review 4th Aug 2019
After the European Union secured free trade agreements this year with Singapore and Vietnam, there is even greater incentive for other large Southeast Asian economies to speed up the pace of clinching their own trade pacts, but negotiations with the EU are certain to prove difficult. Separate talks with Indonesia and the Philippines are ongoing, but are hindered by Jakarta's objections over an EU plan to ban imports of palm oil, and Europe's concerns with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war against drugs and alleged human rights abuses. Meanwhile, trade talks with Malaysia -- where the palm oil ban also is a contentious issue -- and Thailand have been stalled for years. Still, the EU is pressing ahead. The body's trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, noted in June that the deal with Vietnam was "an important milestone" that could augur faster negotiations for the four other countries.

China’s trade, investment with ASEAN booms Global Times 1st Aug 2019
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has replaced the US to be the second-biggest trade partner of China in the first half of 2019, while China remained the biggest trade partner of the bloc for the 10th consecutive year, customs data showed. The figures highlighted closer regional cooperation in a time of rising global protectionism and unilateralism. Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN member countries increased 4.2 percent to reach $291.9 billion in the first six months of this year, Li Chenggang, an official of China's Ministry of Commerce, told a press briefing of the State Council on Wednesday.

RCEP expected to be finalised by year-end: ASEAN General Secretary vietnamnews.vn 1st Aug 2019
ASEAN General Secretary Dato Lim Jock Hoi has expressed his optimism over the likelihood that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between 10 ASEAN member countries and six partners will be finalised by the end of the year. RCEP is considered the world’s largest regional trade agreement as it covers a market of almost half of the world’s population and around one third of global gross domestic product. There are 27 rounds of RCEP negotiations over the past seven years but “we don’t want to go beyond that, if we don’t do it this year, it will be very difficult for us to go beyond next year,” Hoi said. According to the General Secretary, political difficulties have already been resolved and under the situation of trade tension among economic giants, there is urgency for all ASEAN members to push the agreement to its conclusion. “We know that challenges are still there, and we will intensify negotiations among the trade negotiators as well as at the ministerial level,” he said, affirming “the climate seems to be quite positive.” Economic ministers are scheduled to meet in Thailand in September and “this will be a venue for the ministers to sit down and try to push [the negotiations] ahead.”

Upgraded ASEAN-China FTA protocol effective Aug in PH Asia Customs & Trade 30th Jul 2019
The protocol upgrading the economic cooperation agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China will be implemented next month, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, in Customs Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 176-2019 signed on July 24, said implementation of the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Certain Agreements Thereunder Between the ASEAN and China—also called the ACFTA (ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement) Upgrading Protocol—will begin on August 1, with a two-week transition period.

ASEAN’s Lim optimistic about Single Window and RCEP in 2019 GMA News Online 30th Jul 2019
ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi is optimistic that that mechanisms to further improve trade relations among the 10-member states and neighboring countries would be finalized before the year ends. During the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum, Lim said he is looking forward to implementing the ASEAN Single Window and conclude the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). “In terms of trade facilitation, we have been working very closely with business people as well as (other stakeholders) in ASEAN to make sure that the Single Window is on track,” he said in his opening statement Monday.

South Korea looks to Asean for help with Japan ‘trade war’ South China Morning Post 29th Jul 2019
South Korea is planning to appeal for help from its regional partners in its latest bid to convince Japan to roll back export restrictions amid an escalating trade dispute between the two countries. At a series of ministerial gatherings among representatives of Japan, South Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations set to take place in Bangkok next week, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will stress “the importance of free and fair trade”, her office told journalists on Thursday.

Indonesia

Indonesia seen returning to trade deficit in July Reuters 13th Aug 2019
Indonesia is likely to have swung back to a trade deficit in July, which would snap a two-month streak of trade surplus, as the country’s exports and imports are seen plunging amid broader weakness in global trade, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.The median forecast from 13 economists in the poll was for a $420 million trade deficit last month, compared with a $297.3 million revised surplus in June. “It’s more due to the effect of a continued slowdown in the global economic growth,” said Fakhrul Fulvian, an economist with Trimegah Sekuritas. Southeast Asia’s largest economy has seen its exports and imports falling in recent months, except in June, when imports grew slightly.

There's another trade war brewing as Indonesia threatens the EU Bloomberg 9th Aug 2019
While the world focuses on the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S., another spat has been brewing between commodity giant Indonesia and the European Union.Indonesia, the top producer of the world’s most-used vegetable oil, is seeking to raise import tariffs on EU dairy products to 8%-18%, according to Enggartiasto Lukita, the trade minister for the Asian nation. That’s in retaliation to the bloc’s plan to impose anti-subsidy duties of the same rate on Indonesian palm biodiesel, he said. “The EU can impose something on us as long as the parameter is fair, but if the parameter is not fair, then that is an act of protectionism and trade war,” Lukita told reporters in Jakarta on Friday. “We can’t just be quiet when there is unfairness.”

WCO lauds Indonesia’s ‘transformative’ customs reform journey Asia Customs & Trade 1st Aug 2019
The head of the World Customs Organization (WCO) said Indonesia’s customs reform journey and its positive transformative effect in the country ought to be shared with the international customs community. During his July 25-26 visit to Jakarta, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya met with Indonesia’s customs director general Heru Pambudi and his management team to review the country’s customs modernization process and support its willingness to share its experience through capacity building assistance for the region. Mikuriya also visited the Customs Training Centre and the Customs Laboratory to discuss their future plans for making a contribution to the region.

Indonesia sends seven containers of waste back to Hong Kong, France South China Morning Post 30th Jul 2019
Indonesia has returned seven shipping containers of illegally imported waste to France and Hong Kong, an official said on Tuesday, marking the latest move by a Southeast Asian nation to send back rubbish to their wealthy places of origin. The 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 near Singapore.

Wanting to Reduce Imports, DPD Chairperson: Food Sovereignty Bill Must Be Guarded Katadata 16th Aug 2019
Chairperson of the Regional Representative Council ( DPD ) Oesman Sapta Odang invited all parties to oversee the discussion of the Food Sovereignty Bill. Through food security, he is optimistic that imports can be reduced. He hopes that the government ensures that people's food needs are always met. "We hope that food sovereignty is truly realized so that we will no longer import, import and import any more," he said while delivering a speech in the MPR Annual Session series at the Parliament Building, Jakarta, Friday (16/8).

Regarding Onion Import Corruption, Ombudsman Called the Ministry of Trade Not Transparent Katadata 16th Aug 2019
The Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia (ORI) considers it necessary to have a special policy in food import policies, especially after the corruption case of garlic imports . Ombudsman Member for Special Planning, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih said, the case occurred because the Ministry of Trade (Ministry of Trade) was not transparent in carrying out import policies.

The Government Gives Incentives from Import Duty to Parking for Electric Cars Katadata 16th Aug 2019
President Joko Widodo ( Jokowi ) issued a Presidential Regulation or Perpres on Electric Cars in early August. The regulation contains various incentives from the central and regional governments related to the development of electric vehicles in the country. Jokowi hopes this rule can provide a good investment climate to encourage the growth of the electric battery industry as a major component of electrification vehicles.

EU imposes duties of up to 18 percent on Indonesian biodiese The Jakarta Post 14th Aug 2019
The European Commission on Tuesday imposed countervailing duties of 8 percent to 18 percent on imports of subsidized biodiesel from Indonesia, saying the move aimed to restore a level playing field for European Union producers. “The new import duties are imposed on a provisional basis and the investigation will continue with a possibility to impose definitive measures by mid-December 2019,” the EU executive said in a statement.

Jokowi, Mahathir agree to fight EU's palm oil discrimination Antara News 10th Aug 2019
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a bilateral meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Aug 9, concurred on fighting the European Union’s discriminatory measures against the two neighboring countries' palm oil. "The two leaders have a strong commitment to continuing the fight against palm oil discrimination," Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi was quoted as saying by the Presidential Secretariat's Press and Media Bureau in a statement here on Saturday.

Govt lacks ‘strong’ measures against palm oil barriers, says association The Jakarta Post 5th Aug 2019
The government is lacking in strong measures to fight tariff barriers implemented by several palm oil export destinations, including India and the European Union, Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) chairman Joko Supriyono has said. The country’s number one export commodity continues to face criticism over sustainability, such as deforestation issues raised by the euro zone, and has been hurt by trade barriers from its major importers, including India.

Laos

Laos, Indonesia elevate business cooperation Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Business cooperation between Laos and Indonesia has been elevated and business-to-business collaboration is being fostered on the lines of the close cooperation between the two governments, a minister has said.  “We are especially broadening business opportunities for state-owned enterprises between the two countries,” Dr Kikeo Chanthabury, the Lao Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said...

Vietnam and Laos promote border trade cooperation Nhan Dan Online 15th Aug 2019
The Ministry of Industry and Trade in coordination with the Quang Tri provincial People's Committee organised a conference on July 26 to review the three-year implementation of the Vietnam - Laos Border Trade Agreement signed between the two Governments. At the conference, participants agreed that the agreement has brought about many positive results in many aspects.

Border trade offers an economic escape route Bangkok Post 15th Aug 2019
The ongoing border trade event, which has attracted a large number of business operators from neighbouring countries such as Laos and Myanmar to the border town of Mae Sai in Chiang Rai, is a testament to the potential of local trade in contributing to the regional economy. It's the first time that such a fair -- border trade -- is being held on such a big scale.

EU-Vietnam trade deal shows EU will bend human rights standards if the price is right | ASEAN Today ASEAN Today 15th Aug 2019
Since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was signed in Hanoi in June, states across Southeast Asia are looking to push forward trade deals of their own with the regional bloc. But as the European Union (EU) holds its trading partners to human and labour rights standards, other ASEAN nations may have to advance domestic reforms before inking any deals. 

Stopping human trafficking in Lao The ASEAN Post 15th Aug 2019
According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016, published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), more than 85 percent of victims were trafficked from within the region. The Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2016 states that within Southeast Asia, Thailand is the leading destination for trafficked victims from Cambodia, Lao, and Myanmar.

Dozens of live pangolins found hidden on bus in Vietnam The Telegraph 30th Jul 2019
Dozens of live pangolins smuggled from Laos were discovered "dehydrated and weak" on a bus in central Vietnam, police and conservationists said Tuesday, in a country where the endangered mammals are a highly-prized delicacy. The small, docile pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world, and is found across Asia and Africa, with one snatched from the wild every five minutes, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Cambodia and Laos casinos targeted for drug-trade money laundering Nikkei Asian Review 30th Jul 2019
Anti-narcotic investigators are searching for signs of money laundering in the casinos that have spread across Sihanoukville, a Cambodian coastal city that has become a magnet for Chinese high-rollers, amid the booming methamphetamine market in Southeast Asia. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates the region's meth market -- Southeast Asia is the world's epicenter of the synthetic drug -- to be valued at $ 61.4 billion annually, more than double the Cambodian economy of $24 billion.

Tiger cubs found frozen to death in back of smuggler’s car New York Post 29th Jul 2019
Seven tiger cubs were found frozen to death in the back of a car after allegedly being smuggled by wildlife traffickers. Nguyen Huu Hue was arrested after the rare animals were discovered in his vehicle at a car park in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday. Huu Hue is believed to have smuggled the animals in using a well-worn smuggling route from neighboring Laos for years, Vietnamese state media said.

Malaysia

Activists urge customs to ban palm oil imports from Malaysia's FGV Reuters 15th Aug 2019
A group of non-governmental organizations is calling on U.S. authorities to ban imports of palm oil from Malaysia’s FGV Holdings and investigate the company, citing concerns of forced labor and human trafficking on its plantations. U.S.-based NGOs International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and SumOfUs said they had filed a complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is required to deny entry of goods made with forced labor. “We are calling on U.S. Customs to enforce current law and prevent American consumers from unknowingly funding forced labor with each illicit FGV palm oil product sold,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum.

Myanmar

Expect closer ASEAN integration on trade by year end: official The Myanmar Times 2nd Aug 2019
The ASW’s objective is to expedite cargo clearance and promote ASEAN economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among ASEAN member states. During the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum in Bangkok on Monday, Lim Jock Hoi, secretary general of ASEAN, said the regional body is looking forward to implementing the project and has been working closely with businesses and other stakeholders in the ASEAN region to make sure that the initiative is on track.

Myanmar Liquor Association urges stricter control over grey market The Myanmar Times 30th Jul 2019
The Myanmar Liquor Association (MLA) released a statement last Wednesday urging the government to tackle the grey market and implement more transparent regulations for the valuation of liquor imports. The statement also provided a clarification that MLA does not object to the importation of liquor if there is a “level playing field” for the local manufacturers.

Stakeholders want temporary ban on refined-sugar imports The Myanmar Times 29th Jul 2019
Local sugar mill owners and sugar-cane farmers are demanding that refined sugar imports be stopped and that re-export permits for the commodity not be issued after sugar prices plunged to 10-year lows. A drop in Chinese demand has not only left stocks piling up in warehouses, it has also caused refined sugar prices to fall to K960 a viss (1.6 kilogrammes), the price it was trading for in 2009. China was the largest buyer of sugar from Myanmar from 2015 until mid-2017, when it stopped importing from the country. At the peak of China’s demand in 2016, 3 million tonnes of sugar were re-exported to the country from Myanmar.

FDA declares imported flu vaccines sold online illegal The Myanmar Times 29th Jul 2019
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced that the Vaxigrip Tetra Injectable Suspension flu vaccines being sold online are considered illegal imported drugs and warned that public not to buy or use them. The vaccines need to be stored in a “cold chain” temperature-controlled supply chain, but there is no way to ensure the vaccines sold online are being handled properly, the FDA said. “These vaccines are not registered as imported drugs with the FDA as yet and there is no pharmaceutical importer who registered with the FDA to handle the drugs,” Director U Min Wun, head of the Yangon branch of the FDA told The Myanmar Times.

Philippines

Various issues weigh on PH customs as it drafts e-commerce rules Asia Customs & Trade 5th Aug 2019
As the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) drafts its rules on cross-border e-commerce, it finds itself confronted with a multitude of potential issues related to online purchases. The bureau’s key concern is determination of liability, or who it should run after in case of violation of customs laws and rules during online purchases, BOC assistant commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla told participants at the recent Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference organized by Asia Customs & Trade and PortCalls, pointing out that on the one hand the online buyer “does not appear to have a contractual privity with the deconsolidator”, and on the other e-commerce companies, who engage consolidators and deconsolidators, argue they are only online platforms.

Implementation of PH fuel marking program starts Asia Customs & Trade 2nd Aug 2019
The Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) conducted August 2 the first live marking of petroleum products at the Seaoil Bulk Terminal in Mabini, Batangas, signaling the start of implementation of the fuel marking program in the Philippines. Marking of fuel products, whether imported from abroad or manufactured in the Philippines, becomes mandatory five years after the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law took effect in January 2018. Fuel marking aims to curb oil smuggling and plug revenue losses arising from the illegal importation or the misdeclaration of petroleum products.

EO extends to 3 years zero duty on PH imports of capital equipment Asia Customs & Trade 28th Jul 2019
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on July 19 signed Executive Order (EO) No. 85, series of 2019, which extended for three years the application of zero-rate duty on importations of Board of Investments (BOI)-registered new and expanding enterprises. The incentive, provided under EO 57 series of 2018, expired on July 6, 2019. EO 85 applies to importations of capital equipment, spare parts and accessories classified under Chapters 40, 59, 68, 69, 70, 73, 76, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 90 and 96 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), upon BOI’s issuance of Certificate of Authority.

Thailand

Thailand unveils $10bn stimulus package to ease trade war pain Nikkei Asian Review 16th Aug 2019
Thailand's Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana on Friday unveiled an economic stimulus package totaling 316 billion baht ($10.2 billion) to support farmers, lower-income earners and ultimately the entire Thai economy. The size of the stimulus package will amount to 1.9% of Thailand's gross domestic product. Of the package, 109 billion baht will be funded from the government budget, and the rest will be loaned by government-run financial institutions, said Uttama at a press conference.

Shipments spring to life Bangkok Post 22nd Aug 2019
Exports unexpectedly rose for the first time in five months in July, up 4.3% from the same month a year earlier, largely boosted by higher shipments of gold as a safe-haven asset. The Commerce Ministry said yesterday that customs-cleared outbound shipments totalled US$21.2 billion after contracting by 2.2% year-on-year in June, 5.8% in May, 2.6% in April and 4.9% in March. Exports increased to most major trading partners, including the US, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, especially for fresh, frozen and processed fruits and automobiles.

Cross-border trade provides bright spot as exports falter Bangkok Post 31st Jul 2019
Despite poor export performance overall, border and transit trade continued to rise in the first half of 2019, edging up 1.2% from the same period last year. According to the Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department, Thailand's overall cross-border trade, including transit trade, amounted to 686.43 billion baht in the year to June. Transit trade consists of businesses involved in the passage of goods through more than one country. First-half exports from Thailand totalled 381.70 billion baht, down 0.98% from the same period last year, while imports rose by nearly 4% to 304.73 billion baht, resulting in a trade surplus of 5.28 billion baht. Thailand's border trade with all four neighbours amounted to 553.42 billion baht, down 0.04% from the first six months of last year, with exports making up 312.22 billion baht, down almost 4%, and imports worth 241.19 billion, up 5.6%.

 Stronger baht, US-China war still affecting border trade The Nation Thailand 30th Jul 2019
Trade along the borders of Thailand in the first half of this year was worth Bt686 billion, up 1.16 per cent from the same period last year, director general of the Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department, Adul Chotinisakorn, said on Tuesday.  “We are continuing to boost border trade so it can achieve the Bt1.6-trillion target by the end of the year,” he said.  However, he added that exports accounted for Bt381.7 billion of the total trade, which was 0.98 per cent less from the same period last year, while imports accounted for Bt304.73 billion, recording a 3.97 per cent rise from the same period of last year.

Vietnam

Hanoi narrows 'made in Vietnam' to block Chinese detours Nikkei Asian Review 8th Aug 2019
The Vietnamese government is toughening standards for items to qualify as made in Vietnam, Nikkei has learned, seeking to address American concerns over Chinese goods being exported indirectly through the Southeast Asian country. To be designated Vietnamese-made, goods imported from China would have to be processed into a distinct product, with domestic manufacturing added value accounting for at least 30% of their price. Washington, which has imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods amid trade tensions, has taken a stern eye toward those goods circumventing penalties by being shipped through Vietnam, prompting Hanoi to respond.

Approximately 553,000 records processed through National Single Window Nhan Dan 6th Aug 2019
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has been coordinating with ministries and sectors to prepare for the implementation of 61 new administrative procedures on the NSW in 2019. As of July 15, the NSW has connected 174 administrative procedures by 13 ministries and sectors, dealing with a total of over 2.3 million administrative records of roughly 31,000 businesses. Currently, the General Department of Vietnam Customs has worked with ministries and sectors to review and finalise the construction of the system and prepare for the pilot implementation of 15 administrative procedures concerning the grant of work permits for the imports of non-business documents and printing equipment, and for business activities in the field of importing documents.

VN production sees sharpest rise for eight months in July Asia Customs & Trade 5th Aug 2019
Vietnam’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 52.6 in July from 52.5 in June, as the country recorded further marked growth of new orders and production, according to IHS Markit in its latest report. The reading signaled a further monthly improvement in business conditions, the 44th in as many months, it added. Manufacturing production rose sharply in July, with the rate of expansion quickening for the third month running to the fastest since last November. Firms indicated that they were often able to follow production plans, with higher new orders also contributing to output growth.

Customs sector improves effectiveness of international cooperation on smuggling Customs News 5th Aug 2019
A series of cases of drugs and wildlife trade violating the Cites Convention have been discovered and dealt withby customs forces recently through cooperation programs with other countries. A representative of the Department of Anti-Smuggling Investigation (General Department of Customs) saidto perform the task of preventing and fighting smuggling, in addition to the efforts of the internal industry and coordination in the country, the international cooperation on exchange of Customs control information has always been considered as one of the most effective information channels for professional operations of customs control.

Deputy PM urges for continuous reforms to facilitate trade Nhan Dan 2nd Aug 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue made the above requirement while chairing a meeting at the Government Headquarters in Hanoi on July 31, discussing results in the operation of the National Steering Committee on the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), the National Single Window (NSW) and Trade Facilitation in the first half of this year. Deputy PM Hue, who is also the committee’s chairman, praised effective coordination among the committee, its standing bodies and the relevant ministries, agencies and localities during the implementation of the NSW, ASW and specialised inspection with positive results.

Vietnam Garment Makers Face Hitches in Lucrative EU Trade Deal The Business of Fashion 26th Jul 2019
For Tran Nhu Tung, Vietnam's newly signed free trade deal with the European Union presents both huge opportunity, and a logistical headache. The Vice Chairman of Thanh Cong Textile Garment Investment Trading (TCM) in Ho Chi Minh City is planning a rapid expansion in anticipation of the influx of orders the tariff-slashing EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) promises to bring. "The EVFTA is the game changer that will pave the way for Vietnamese garments to dominate the European market," Tung said amid the clack of thousands of sewing machines in the metal-roofed factory on the outskirts of Vietnam's commercial centre.

US tops H1 chicken exports to Vietnam VnExpress International 20th Aug 2019
This accounted for 44 percent of Vietnam’s chicken imports. The U.S. was followed by South Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Brazil and Russia, latest data from Vietnam Customs shows. The main types of meat imported from the U.S. were drumsticks, wings, feet and ground meat. Drumsticks topped in volume at 59,500 tons valued at $45.2 million. The average imported price of VND22,420 (96 cents) per kilogram was lower than domestic prices which ranged between VND35,000-70,000 ($1.5-3). Nguyen Van Trong, deputy head of the department of livestock production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Americans prefer chicken breasts, therefore other body parts such as drumsticks and wings are exported at lower prices, while Vietnamese like these parts.

China tightens veggie and fruit import requirements for Vietnam Voice of Vietnam 19th Aug 2019
Improving product quality and promoting exports through official channels are seen as a stable method of development for Vietnam's fruit and vegetables as China looks set to apply stricter requirements on fruit imports in the future, according to the Plant Protection Department. Fruit and vegetables have been one of the key export staples which has enjoyed consistent growth in recent years. Despite a number of difficulties, veggie and fruit export turnover aim to gross US$4.2 billion this year. In July alone, fruit and vegetable exports raked in US$244.30 million, bringing the total seven-month export turnover to US$2.3 billion, up 0.13 per cent compared to the same period last year. Currently, Vietnam's fruit and vegetable products have established a strong presence in nearly 55 countries, whilst a number of major markets have seen strong growth, including China, Japan, the United States, Russia, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Thailand.

MoIT considers safeguard measures for apparel sector under CPTPP Vietnam News Agency 16th Aug 2019
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is drafting a circular providing guidance for the application of safeguard measures for textile and apparel products under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). CPTPP is the first “new-generation” free trade agreement (FTA) that Việt Nam has signed. It officially took effect on January 14 this year. With 11 member countries and high tariff reduction commitments, the use of legal tools to protect the domestic industry is likely to occur. Therefore, the ministry said it was essential to issue guidelines for measures to safeguard against the risk of increasing imports. They include transitional and emergency action measures.

Vietnamese origin of steel products needs to be transparent VietNamNet 1st Aug 2019
Vietnamese steel manufacturers must be transparent about the origin of their products when exporting to all markets, experts say. The US Department of Commerce has imposed a high tax rate of 456.23 percent on some kinds of steel imported from Vietnam using materials from South Korea and Taiwan. This is the highest duty the US has ever imposed on Vietnam’s steel exports. Over many years, the steel industry has faced many trade remedy lawsuits.According to Pham Pho, a respected metallurgy expert, the US wants to impose sanctions on China’s steel. The country makes half of the total steel output of the world, and its output is even higher than the output of the US, EU and Japan in total. Meanwhile, the US, reasoning that Vietnam’s products use Chinese materials, has imposed high taxes on imports from Vietnam.