Customs Update: February 18, 2020

Customs Update | February 18, 2020
Authors: Michaela Wong, Thao Nguyen
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 3-5: 2020 Vietnam Business Mission: Please click here to register. 

March 12: Commemoration Event: Ten ASEAN Member States Participating in the ASEAN Single Window - At the end of the ASEAN Single WIndow (ASW) Steering Committee Meeting on March 12, 2020, in Singapore, IGNITE and ASEAN Secretariat will organize a short event to commemorate the launch of the ASEAN Single Window Live Operation among all 10 ASEAN Member States. This will be a high-level event including the members of the ASW Steering Committee, the Deputy Secretary General for the ASEAN Economic Community, high-level representatives from the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, representatives from the US-ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, EU-ASEAN Business Council and other private sector representatives. More details will follow soon, and for any inquirites, please contact Thao Nguyen at tnguyen@usasean.org or Nina Laraswati at nlaraswati@nathaninc.com

March 13: Q1 Customs Committee Call: The Council will hold the Q1 Customs Committee Call on Friday, March 13 at 9:30am-10:30am SGT (Thursday, March 12 at 9:30am-10:30am ET). Please register for the call here. For more information, please contact Thao Nguyen at tnguyen@usasean.org or Michaela Wong at mwong@usasean.org

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines ratifies ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) on Import Duty Rates

On January 17, Philippines President Duterte signed an executive order modifying tariffs from Hong Kong and ASEAN member states, as agreed upon under the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA). After first signing the agreement in November 2017, the Philippines committed to eliminating customs duties on 85% of the products in trades with Hong Kong, and deduct 10% of tariff lines within 14 years. Exporters will be required to submit a certificate of origin under the rules of the AHKFTA. Duterte’s Executive Order No. 102 imposes the new tariff rates on products entering the Philippines for consumption, though the government maintains the right to prevent import surges and unfair trade practices. The order will immediately enter into effect following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Since negotiations began in 2014, the AHKFTA has been intended as a means for Hong Kong to gain access to new markets, while also providing fresh opportunities for companies that have previously relied on traditional markets, such as the US and European Union. With the US-China trade war piling on additional external risks for global companies, the newly-ratified agreement serves to strengthen Hong Kong’s trade presence in ASEAN, and vice versa. In 2017, Hong Kong’s major domestic exports to ASEAN were tobacco and tobacco products, metalliferous ores, metal scrap, jewelry, and other articles of previous or semi-precious materials, while Hong Kong’s major imports from ASEAN include electrical machinery and parts, office machines, and telecommunications equipment.

The AHKFTA contains 14 chapters spanning broad areas of market access liberalization, trade facilitation, rules to promote confidence in trade, and cooperation aimed at facilitating trade in goods and services in the region. The agreement is ASEAN’s sixth FTA with external trade partners, after China, Korea, Japan, India, and Australia-New Zealand. The other ASEAN signatories are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Vietnam Customs Clamps Down on Trade Origin Fraud

Trade fraud remains a pervasive issue in Vietnam, as the customs department continues to combat billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese-made exports fraudulently labeled as “Made in Vietnam” before shipment to the US. Chinese exporters have been using transshipment through Vietnam to dodge tariffs put in place by the Trump administration beginning in 2018 against goods originating from China. Despite the US and China reaching an agreement on a “phase one” trade deal, Vietnam Customs reported in December that officials detected “many cases” of origin fraud within its exports, including $4 billion-worth just in October, with 19 total product groups considered at a high risk for fraudulent labeling. Common mislabeled products include steel and aluminum, seafood, clothing, and electronics.

Vietnam is particularly vulnerable as a destination for trade fraud in transshipment due to its wide range of free trade agreements, including a June 2019 FTA with the European Union eliminating 99% of tariffs and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which will remove 95% of tariffs among its 11 members. As the recent US-China trade deal takes effect and Vietnam Customs exerts tighter control over products with fraudulent labels, the rate of trade fraud is likely to abate in the next year.

In January, the Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh called for all national agencies and organizations to crack down on monitoring certificates of origin for goods passing through Vietnam. Measures to tackle trade fraud encompass both international cooperation and increased actions across varying levels of the Vietnam General Department of Customs. The department outlined eight essential measures Vietnam officials will use to effectively combat origin fraud and illegal transshipment:

  1. Amending and updating the regulations on checking and verifying origins of import-export goods (Circular No. 62/2019/TT-BTC dated September 5th 2019);
  2. Amending and updating the regulations on sanctioning regarding the origin and label frauds, enforcing administrative rulings in the customs area.
  3. Training the customs officers for better performance in inspecting and detecting origin frauds and illegal transshipment cases.
  4. Applying risk management measures including: collecting, analyzing information both from domestic and foreign sources to identify commodities and enterprises which are prone to high risk of origin frauds; reviewing suspected transactions and enterprises with unexpected high import-export volume in order to take further necessary actions.
  5. Inspecting and investigating special cases.
  6. Raising awareness about regulations of origin, origin and label frauds and illegal transshipment.
  7. Enhancing the inter-agency information sharing and cross checking regarding C/O grant.
  8. Enhancing international cooperation

Indonesia Bans Live Animal Imports from China Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

In response to the spread of the coronavirus, Indonesian authorities this month placed a temporary ban on all live animal imports from China amid fears the outbreak could spread through imports. The ban entered into effect on February 7 and applies to all live animals that arrived in Indonesia ports from that date forward. Live animals arriving after the date will be re-exported to the country of origin or will be destroyed, and exporters could be subject to sanctions.

While the live animal import ban has been viewed generally as a positive response to protect Indonesian citizens, industry stakeholders are concerned an expansion of the import ban to other products will negatively impact the economy. In 2019, live animal imports into Indonesia totaled just $314,295, compared to larger industries that could be affected by the virus, including garlic, chili and salt. The food and beverage industry is heavily dependent on imported Chinese products and would suffer significantly from additional import bans of Chinese goods.

In February, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto announced the ministry is considering more import bans that could potentially spread the coronavirus, but the government will be looking into other countries that could supply the affected products.  Indonesia has also banned all travel to and from China and suspended visa provisions for Chinese nationals while the outbreak persists. China is Indonesia’s top trade partner and largest export market, and industry players also fear a decline in overall demand for Indonesian exports, including crude palm oil and minerals, the longer the ban remains.

 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
ASEAN manufacturing health deteriorates only mildly as new orders grow

Brunei
MoHA launches card payment for passports

Cambodia
Fashion brands weigh Cambodia strategy after EU curbs trade

Indonesia
Experts urge ASEAN to harmonize non-tariff barriers to boost intra-regional trade
EU Widens Tariff Threat on Steel From China, Taiwan, Indonesia
Investigation reveals loopholes for illegal shark fin exports from Indonesia
Lower Threshold for Import Duty Exemption on E-Commerce as Part of Making Indonesia 4.0
Indonesia tightens grip on nickel and coal exports

Laos
Laos to open Pang Mon border checkpoint Feb 1
Xekong on track to have first international border crossing with Vietnam
Laos to increase coffee beans export in 2020

Malaysia
Malaysia's December exports rise for first time since July
Govt suspends visa for tourists from Wuhan, Hubei Province
Report: Malaysia to buy more sugar from India to help resolve palm oil spat
China Will Keep Buying Our Palm Oil, Malaysia’s Trade Chief Says
MAB suspends 737 Max deliveries

Myanmar
Myanmar steps up fight against illicit trade

Philippines
Philippines joins ASEAN Single Window
JUUL asks Palace to loosen import rules on e-cig products | Bernadette D. Nicolas
Duterte signs EO modifying tariffs on imported products

Thailand
Exim predicts no growth in exports
Thailand Eyes Limits on Surgical Mask Exports as Coronavirus Cases Rise

Vietnam
Trade origin fraud remains problem for Vietnam despite US-China deal
Customs sector targets collecting $14.6 billion in 2020
Remittances to Việt Nam through banks grow by 12 per cent in 2019
Minh Phú Seafood shares fall on investigation of tax evasion
Vietnam increases coal, ore and mineral imports
India initiates anti-dumping investigation on viscose spun yarn from Việt Nam
Shrimp exports to Australia increased strongly in 2019
Deputy foreign minister visits EP to discuss ratification of Vietnam EU deals
Asia Coffee-Sluggish trading in Vietnam ahead of Lunar New Year
Việt Nam-China import-export turnover reaches $117 billion
Vietnam does not manipulate currency: central bank
Heineken refutes Vietnam taxman
Ministry of Industry and Trade issues action programmes for 2020
Vietnam 2019 net crude oil imports 3.64 mln tonnes vs 1.3 mln tonnes in 2018: customs
CPTPP not proving a hit across the board
Car prices fall as supply rises
Firms urged to comply with origin rules amid escalating protectionism
Origin fraud hurt Vietnamese steel in the long run
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

ASEAN manufacturing health deteriorates only mildly as new orders grow Asia Customs & Trade 3rd Feb 2020
Operating conditions across the ASEAN manufacturing sector deteriorated for the eighth month running in January 2020, but the rate of decline was the softest since the downturn began in June 2019, according to the latest IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data. Moreover, output rose for the first time in seven months amid a back-to-back increase in new business.

Brunei

MoHA launches card payment for passports Borneo Bulletin Online 19th Jan 2020
Starting January 20, the public in Brunei can use their debit or credit card to pay for travel document application fees under the Immigration and National Registration Department (INRD), in line with the INRD’s efforts to foster financial inclusion. The new facility was launched by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) Open Day at The Mall, Gadong yesterday.

Cambodia

Fashion brands weigh Cambodia strategy after EU curbs trade Nikkei Asian Review 14th Feb 2020
Stripped of some of its European trade privileges, Cambodia is bracing for an economic hit as major brands such as H&M review their production in the country. The European Commission on Wednesday announced it would suspend duty-free access for 40 products from Cambodia, equal to about 20% of the country's exports to the bloc, or some 1.1 billion euros ($1.19 billion). The decision followed the EU's 12-month review of Cambodia's eligibility for its Everything But Arms scheme, which grants developing countries duty-free access for all exports except weapons and ammunition. In moving to reinstate regular tariffs on some clothing, footwear and travel goods, EU officials said Cambodia had violated the human and labor rights provisions of the scheme. They pointed to government oppression of political opponents and independent media as being among "systematic" breaches, giving the commission "no choice" but to adopt the partial sanction. The tariffs -- 12% for clothes and up to 17% for some footwear -- will take effect on Aug. 12 unless the European Parliament and Council object within two months, or four months should an extension be sought. Barring this, economists expect higher export costs will see some textile production shifted away from the country's vital apparel industry. The sector directly employs more than 750,000 workers and generated some $9.5 billion in exports last year -- equal to more than a third of gross domestic product.

Indonesia

Experts urge ASEAN to harmonize non-tariff barriers to boost intra-regional trade The Jakarta Post 3rd Feb 2020
Researchers from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) have advised ASEAN countries to harmonize their non-tariff measures (NTMs) to boost intra-regional trade. With the adoption of the Asian Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), six members of the association, namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, have eliminated import duties on 99.6 percent of their tariff line, while four members, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, have reduced their import duties to between 0 and 5 percent on 98.86 percent of their tariff line. However, the researchers said that trade in the region remained low due to NTM policies enforced in ASEAN countries, such as trade quotas, licenses, regulations, label requirements, price controls and anticompetitive measures.

EU Widens Tariff Threat on Steel From China, Taiwan, Indonesia Bloomberg 24th Jan 2020
The European Union ordered its customs officials to register flat-rolled stainless steel imports from China, Taiwan and Indonesia, widening the threat of tariffs on the shipments. The step is part of an inquiry into whether Chinese, Taiwanese and Indonesian producers of hot-rolled, stainless-steel sheets and coils sold them in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping. The move also covers a parallel EU probe of alleged trade-distorting subsidies to the manufacturers in China and Indonesia. Registration allows the EU to impose possible tariffs on past transactions. Levies against below-cost imports are known as anti-dumping duties, while import taxes in response to subsidies are called countervailing duties.

Investigation reveals loopholes for illegal shark fin exports from Indonesia Mongabay Environmental News 12th Feb 2020
A months-long joint investigation by Indonesian media has shed new light on the ploys used by fishermen and traders to illegally export endangered shark species. Investigative magazine Tempo published the report on Jan. 25, focusing on the illegal shark trade linking fishermen on the island of Lombok and exporters in the port city of Surabaya.

Lower Threshold for Import Duty Exemption on E-Commerce as Part of Making Indonesia 4.0 Lexology 2nd Feb 2020
Following its press release in December last year (please read our client alert on this here), the Indonesian government has issued Ministry of Finance Regulation No. 199/PMK.010/2019 on Provisions on Customs, Excise and Taxes of Consignment Goods. The main aim of this regulation is to lower the threshold for import duty exemption. Regulation 199 will come into effect on 30 January.

Indonesia tightens grip on nickel and coal exports The Jakarta Post 20th Jan 2020
Indonesia started 2020 with two important policies in the mining sector: the ban on nickel ore exports and the requirement that coal companies export coal using local ships. As the country is a top exporter of both commodities, the policies will have a significant impact on the global market. Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Ministry regulation No. 11/2019 bans nickel ore exports starting in January while Trade Ministry regulation No. 80/2018 requires coal exports to use Indonesian-owned ships starting in May. Both regulations were designed to create more business opportunities in Indonesia, but miners have raised concerns about the policies’ impacts on global commodity prices and supplies.

Laos

Laos to open Pang Mon border checkpoint Feb 1 Bangkok Post 26th Jan 2020
Laos will open the Pang Mon checkpoint in Sayaboury province opposite Thailand's Ban Huak checkpoint in Phu Sang district of this northern border province on Feb 1, provincial chamber of commerce adviser Kongsak Tharanit said on Saturday. Mr Kongsak said the Sayaboury provincial governor has sent a letter inviting the Chiang Rai governor to lead a 15-member Thai delegation from Chiang Kham and Phu Sang district to attend the opening ceremony. Kovit Chaimuang, a member of the Phayao Chamber of Commerce, said the new checkpoint will help promote trade, investment and tourism between the two countries.

Xekong on track to have first international border crossing with Vietnam Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
The Prime Minister’s Office plans to upgrade the Daktaok local border crossing in Dakcheung district, Xekong province, to an international level crossing on the Vietnamese border. Lao and Vietnamese officials are currently discussing the date when this change will take place. If the status is elevated as planned, Daktaok will become Xekong’s first international border crossing, according to the province’s Information, Culture and Tourism Department. It is expected that the Pangmone border crossing will come into service as an international crossing point on February 1. If all goes to plan, it should enable more people to visit Xayaboury than in the past, according to the province’s deputy governor, Mr Phengvilan Khamphanpheng.

Laos to increase coffee beans export in 2020 Xinhua 16th Jan 2020
The Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers' Cooperative (CPC) based in Pakxong district, southern Laos' Champasak province, is aiming to export 64-65 containers of processed coffee beans worth 5 million U.S. dollars in 2020. This is a slight increase on last year's export target of 63 containers worth over 4.8 million U.S. dollars.

Malaysia

Malaysia's December exports rise for first time since July Yahoo Finance 4th Feb 2020
Malaysia's exports rose for the first time in five months in December on higher demand for manufactured and agriculture goods, government data showed on February 4. The export growth was a welcome reprieve for Southeast Asia's third-largest economy, which struggled for most of the second half of 2019 on poor demand for its manufactured products and oil and gas shipments. Exports expanded 2.7% from a year earlier, compared with a 1.0% fall forecast by analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll, and November's 5.5% contraction. Trade surplus was 12.6 billion ringgit ($3.06 billion), up from 6.5 billion ringgit in the previous month, according to data from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. December imports rose 0.9% from a year earlier, up from the 3.6% decline seen in November. The poll of 12 economists had forecast imports to grow 1.7% and a trade balance of 9.1 billion ringgit. Full-year exports fell 1.7%, dragged by contracting demand during August-November, while imports dipped 3.5%. Trade surplus grew 11% to 137.4 billion ringgit, the largest since 2009, and up from 120.3 billion ringgit in 2018. Exports to major markets rose in December. Shipments to China, Malaysia's biggest trading partner, jumped 17.8%, up from 4.1% in the previous month. Exports to the United States were up 15.1% on year.

Govt suspends visa for tourists from Wuhan, Hubei Province The Malaysian Reserve 28th Jan 2020
At a press conference after making a working visit to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and KLIA2 in Sepang on January 27, Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that since January 23, Malaysia did not record any tourist arrivals from Wuhan, China. “As for tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia before January 23, the Health Ministry will work with the Immigration Department to get the information,” he said. Dr. Dzulkefly also confirmed that the number of positive Wuhan coronavirus cases in Malaysia stood at four, with five pending cases awaiting laboratory tests confirmation. All cases involve Chinese nationals. Of the five, two are in Langkawi, two in Kuala Lumpur, and the latest in Bintulu, Sarawak. The first three positive cases in Malaysia were detected through contact tracing – they are the wife and two grandsons of a 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who is being treated in Singapore. The three individuals entered Malaysia via Johor. Dr. Dzulkefly also noted that there have been 38 cases of patients showing symptoms and suspected to be infected by the coronavirus, with one being positive, 32 negative, and five awaiting lab results. Meanwhile, the government has decided to temporarily suspend all immigration facilities to Chinese citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province immediately.

Report: Malaysia to buy more sugar from India to help resolve palm oil spat Malay Mail 23rd Jan 2020
Malaysia's top sugar refiner said it will increase purchases of the commodity from India, which according to two sources is part of efforts to placate New Delhi amid an ongoing spat over palm oil imports. MSM Malaysia Holdings Berhad told Reuters that it will buy 130,000 tons of raw sugar from India worth RM200 million in the first quarter. In 2019, the company bought approximately 88,000 tons of raw sugar from India. MSM is the sugar refining arm of the world’s largest palm oil producer, FGV Holdings, which is a unit of Malaysian state-owned Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). Earlier this month, India effectively halted Malaysian palm oil imports, allegedly in retaliation to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s comments criticizing New Delhi over its Kashmir policy. India has been the biggest Malaysian palm oil buyer over the last five years.

China Will Keep Buying Our Palm Oil, Malaysia’s Trade Chief Says Bloomberg 22nd Jan 2020
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry Darell Leiking said that Malaysia is unlikely to suffer any loss in its palm oil business from China, despite Beijing pledging to boost soybean purchases from the U.S. amid the trade war. “China and Malaysia have had a long relationship,” and Kuala Lumpur has offered diplomatic and economic assistance in the face of U.S. “challenges,” he said. The initial U.S.-China trade deal signed last week is expected to lower palm oil prices, and China has tried to reassure other trading partners that trade relations will remain the same. Malaysia is also dealing with India’s recent move to reduce Malaysian palm oil imports, necessitating a redirection of $1.4 billion of processed palm products, according to independent economist Khor Yu Leng with Segi Enam Advisors. Leiking said that Malaysia and India are engaged on the issue and that India is still an “important partner” of theirs.

MAB suspends 737 Max deliveries The Malaysian Reserve 16th Jan 2020
Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) has suspended the delivery of Boeing Co’s 737 Max due this year amid the aircraft’s questionable return to service. MAB stated that the matter is currently under discussion with Boeing and that it is awaiting decisions by regulators regarding the jet’s return to commercial flight. Boeing announced on December 16th that production of the airplane has been suspended. An analyst noted that the delivery suspension would affect MAB’s route expansion, but did say that the halted delivery would ameliorate the airline’s funding issues.

Myanmar

Myanmar steps up fight against illicit trade UN Conference on Trade and Development 7th Feb 2020
Myanmar encounters illicit trade valued at about US$6.4 billion every year. But this staggering figure only reflects trade on official routes between Myanmar and its neighbouring countries. “This is just a tip of the iceberg,” said Than Myint, the country’s minister of commerce, during the first-ever Illicit Trade Forum held 3 and 4 February at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The event convened by UNCTAD and the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) brought together various actors to address this alarming problem that drains more than $2 trillion from the global economy annually. In Myanmar, long borderlines, insecurity and weak capacity make it difficult to effectively control illicit trade, which includes wildlife trafficking, smuggling of alcohol and tobacco.

Philippines

Philippines joins ASEAN Single Window Business World 3rd Feb 2020
The Philippines has officially joined the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) and went live last Dec. 30 via its three pilot ports, the Department of Finance (DoF) said. In a statement on Friday, DoF Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said through the three pilot ports, the Bureau of Customs (BoC), its Export Coordination Division (ECD) and Export Divisions have started issuing electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO) through the country’s national single window (NSW) — the TRADENET.gov.ph platform. The three pilot ports are the Port of Manila (POM), Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). According to Mr. Beltran, going live on the ASW will reduce communication costs by as low as 10% of the initial costs.

JUUL asks Palace to loosen import rules on e-cig products | Bernadette D. Nicolas BusinessMirror 4th Feb 2020
E-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Philippines has admitted facing importation delays following  President Duterte’s pronouncement on the ban on e-cigarettes. In a news statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday said the firm wrote a letter to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III requesting the department’s assistance to allow the firm to proceed with the importations. Mario Zinampan, the firm’s senior director for government affairs, pointed out that Republic Act 11346, or the Tobacco Tax Law, signed by the President last year “legitimizes vapor products in the Philippines.”

Duterte signs EO modifying tariffs on imported products Philippines News Agency 21st Jan 2020
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order modifying import duty rates of certain products in line with the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian (Asean)-Hong Kong, China free trade agreement (AHKFTA). Duterte signed Executive Order 102 on January 10, but a copy of the document was released to media on Monday. EO 102 notes that AHKFTA will “strengthen the economic partnerships between the Asean member states and Hong Kong, China, serve as an important building block towards regional economic integration, and support sustainable economic development.”

Thailand

Exim predicts no growth in exports Bangkok Post 18th Feb 2020
State-owned Export-Import Bank (Exim) of Thailand cut its export forecast for this year to a range of no growth to a 2% contraction, assuming the coronavirus epidemic and the trade war will ravage the country's outbound shipments. This year will mark a global rebalancing to mitigate risks on multiple fronts that are affecting economies around the world, said Exim Thailand president Pisit Serewiwattana. The trade war in particular will pressure international trade this year, said Mr Pisit. There is global trade volatility as a result of ample liquidity and rapidly changing interest rates and commodity prices, he said. Oil prices, which are low as a result of excess supply, have brought the prices of several goods that move in a similar direction to stay at low levels, said Mr Pisit. Natural disasters and epidemics could hinder economic activities, especially trade and investment, which are interconnected globally, while persistent conflicts among several countries have dampened business operations, purchasing power and the global economy, he said. Exim Thailand previously predicted Thailand's exports would grow 2% in 2020.

Thailand Eyes Limits on Surgical Mask Exports as Coronavirus Cases Rise The New York Times 5th Feb 2020
Thailand's cabinet agreed measures on Tuesday that could lead to a reduction in the export of surgical masks to prevent shortages at home as health authorities try to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials confirmed on Tuesday six new cases on the virus in Thailand, including four Thai nationals and two Chinese, bringing the total to 25, including three instances of human-to-human transmission. "There are more (surgical mask) orders from overseas and tourists are buying a lot, causing shortages in some stores," deputy government spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek told Reuters. On average, Thailand produces around 600 million masks each year and uses about 200 million with the rest are exported.

Vietnam

Trade origin fraud remains problem for Vietnam despite US-China deal Global Trade Review (GTR) 11th Feb 2020
Vietnam customs says that it is clamping down on trade origin fraud, which has spiked over the past year, as exporters reroute their goods through the country to take advantage of its free trade agreements (FTAs) and circumvent additional duties. In December, Vietnam customs said that it had detected “many cases” of origin fraud within its exports, and that it has identified 19 product groups at high risk of origin fraud in the country. The department cites the US and China trade war as the catalyst for the increased origin fraud, as Chinese exporters routed their US-destined goods via Vietnam to forge their country of origin, side-stepping the hefty duties imposed by the US on Chinese goods in the process.

Customs sector targets collecting $14.6 billion in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 4th Feb 2020
The General Department of Customs hopes to collect VNĐ338 trillion (US$14.6 billion) for the State budget this year, a year-on-year increase of 12.5 per cent. The target is built on the basis of 6.8 per cent GDP growth, crude oil price at $60 per barrel, total export turnover increasing by 7 per cent and import turnover increasing by 9 per cent.

Remittances to Việt Nam through banks grow by 12 per cent in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 22nd Jan 2020
Remittances sent to Việt Nam through banks in 2019 exceeded US$2.5 billion, up by 12 per cent compared with the previous year. The biggest remittance flows came from Vietnamese guest labourers working in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, with many of the remittances sent in early December. Remittance flows from the US remained stable. Remittances from Overseas Vietnamese communities have not only been used as financial support sent to relatives, but also for investment in business activities at home. However, policies to restrict remittance output from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong had affected the flow of remittances to Việt Nam this year.

Minh Phú Seafood shares fall on investigation of tax evasion vietnamnews.vn 21st Jan 2020
Minh Phú Seafood Corp shares fell for a second day after the company confirmed it would co-operate with the US investigation into whether the Vietnamese firm had evaded anti-dumping taxes or not. The statement was made after international and local media last weekend reported the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had launched an investigation into whether MSeafood, a US division of Minh Phú Seafood, violated US trade laws by evading anti-dumping taxes on frozen warmwater shrimp from India. A report on undercurrentnews.com on January 16 said the CBP had sent a letter to MSeafood Corporation, located in Fountain Valley, California, regarding the initiation of investigation and interim measures.

Vietnam increases coal, ore and mineral imports VietnamPlus 17th Jan 2020
Vietnam had a trade deficit of more than 1 billion USD with Australia last year, one year after the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into effect. Of which, coal was the imported commodity with the highest value of 1.45 billion USD in the first 11 months of last year, rocketing by 96.8 percent over the previous year, accounting for 35 percent of total import turnover of goods from this market. Ore and minerals ranked second, valued at 517 million USD, accounting for 12.5 percent of the total import turnover from Australia. Metal products ranked third in turnover, followed by wheat and iron and steel scrap.

India initiates anti-dumping investigation on viscose spun yarn from Việt Nam vietnamnews.vn 17th Jan 2020
The Trade Remedies Authority of Việt Nam on Friday announced that India has initiated an anti-dumping investigation concerning imports of viscose spun yarn originating in or exported from three countries, including Việt Nam, China and Indonesia. According to the notice of the India Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Department of Commerce issued on Tuesday, the investigation was based on a complaint filed by the Indian Manmade Yarn Manufacturers Association. The association alleged that material injury to the domestic industry was being caused due to dumped imports from Việt Nam, China and Indonesia and requested imposition of antidumping duty on the imports of the goods. The injury investigation period would cover the 2016-19 period. The Trade Remedies Authority of Việt Nam urged Vietnamese exporters to supply required information to the investigation agency on time, before February 19.

Shrimp exports to Australia increased strongly in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 17th Jan 2020
Exports of shrimp to Australia increased strongly in 2019, expanding at a two-digit growth rate, according to statistics from the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep). Shrimp export to Australia totalled nearly US$121 million as of December 15, 2019, representing a rise of 12.6 per cent over the same period of 2018 – the highest rate among the top ten shrimp export markets of Việt Nam. Australia was the seventh largest shrimp export market of Việt Nam, according for 3.8 per cent of Việt Nam’s total shrimp export revenue.

Deputy foreign minister visits EP to discuss ratification of Vietnam EU deals Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 17th Jan 2020
Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son paid a visit to the European Parliament (EP) from January 13 to 16 to discuss the ratification process of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). During the trip, the deputy minister had meetings with Vice Presidents of the EP Heidi Hautala and Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Chairman of the EP’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) Bernd Lange, and 12 parliamentarians from key political parties in the EP like the European People’s Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Renew Europe, the European Green Party, and the European Conservatives and Reformists Party. According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment, the EVFTA and EVIPA will help Vietnam raise its gross domestic product (GDP) by 4.6 percent and exports to the EU by 42.7 percent by 2025. Meanwhile, the European Commission estimate that these agreements will help the EU add 29.5 billion USD to its GDP and increase its exports to Vietnam by 29 percent by 2035.

Asia Coffee-Sluggish trading in Vietnam ahead of Lunar New Year Tuoi Tre News 17th Jan 2020
Vietnam coffee prices fell in lacklustre trading ahead of a long holiday, while activity in Indonesia remained subdued on scarce stock and is not expected to pick up until March, traders said on Thursday. Markets in Vietnam will shut from Jan. 23-29 to mark Tet or Lunar New Year. Data released by the customs on Monday showed coffee exports from Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of the robusta bean, dived 11.9%, from a year earlier, to 1.65 million tonnes in 2019.

Việt Nam-China import-export turnover reaches $117 billion vietnamnews.vn 15th Jan 2020
In a report on import and export activities of Việt Nam last year, announced by the General Department of Customs, the total import and export value of the whole country reached $517.26 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.6 per cent. Notably, among more than 200 countries and territories with which Việt Nam has foreign trade relations, China maintained its position as the largest market. The Chinese market alone accounted for 22.6 per cent of the country's total import-export turnover last year. The year is also the second consecutive year that the turnover between the two countries surpassed $100 billion. The import-export turnover between the country and China increased by more than $10 billion from $106.71 billion in 2018. However, the increase in turnover was mainly due to a sharp increase in imports from China, while Việt Nam's exports to this market increased insignificantly.

Vietnam does not manipulate currency: central bank Tuoi Tre News 15th Jan 2020
Vietnam has denied using exchange rates and monetary policy to facilitate export after the country was put on a U.S. watch list of currency manipulators. “The State Bank of Vietnam has never used exchange rates to compete with trade partners and never purposely intervened in monetary policy to help with exports,” the central bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “Vietnam does not manipulate currency.” The statement followed the U.S. Department of the Treasury adding Vietnam to a list of ten countries to be monitored for alleged currency manipulation in a report on the macroeconomic and foreign exchange policies of Washington’s major trade partners.

Heineken refutes Vietnam taxman VnExpress International 15th Jan 2020
Heineken Asia Pacific is claiming exemption from the VND917.2 billion ($39.7 million) it forked out to Vietnam tax authorities in recent deal. "Despite making a full payment in line with the tax assessment, Heineken Asia Pacific (Heineken APAC) does not agree with the basis on which it was issued," the company stated Tuesday. The firm has initiated proceedings under Vietnam-Singapore Double Taxation Treaty terms to seek clarification over the taxman’s decision, it said. The statement follows the General Department of Taxation decision to charge the Dutch beer giant VND917.2 billion ($39.7 million) in back taxes and fines for a 2018 transaction. Singapore-based Heineken APAC at the end of 2018 struck a deal valued at over VND4.8 trillion ($207.7 million) with Heineken Vietnam Brewery. Accordingly, the Singaporean firm transferred its entire Vietnamese subsidiary stake to the latter.

Ministry of Industry and Trade issues action programmes for 2020 VietnamPlus 14th Jan 2020
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has asked agencies and organisations in all localities to strengthen the fight against corruption and trade fraud. The call came in the minister's recent decision to implement the National Assembly’s resolution requesting ministries address the issues raised in oral questioning in the 8th meeting of the 14th National Assembly last November. The decision requires the General Department of Market Surveillance to work with other agencies and local authorities to inspect, prevent and control smuggled and counterfeit goods, low-quality goods and goods without clear origin and violating national sovereignty. The Department of Import and Export will build an import and export strategy for 2020-2030. In addition, the minister asked departments of Trade Promotion, Import and Export and Overseas Markets to propose solutions to renovate trade promotion activities to diversify export markets, reducing reliance on certain markets. It also asked the Department of Trade Remedies to support enterprises in handling trade disputes, providing information and market warnings for exporters, as well as implementing trade remedies to protect domestic industries.

Vietnam 2019 net crude oil imports 3.64 mln tonnes vs 1.3 mln tonnes in 2018: customs Tuoi Tre News 14th Jan 2020
Vietnam’s net crude oil imports in 2019 reached 3.64 million tonnes, up from 1.3 million tonnes a year earlier, government’s customs data released on Monday showed. The country’s crude oil imports during the year rose 47.1% to 7.616 million tonnes, while is crude oil exports edged up 0.4% to 3.976 million tonnes, the Customs Department said in a statement. Vietnam’s imports of petroleum products in 2019 fell 14.2% to 9.798 million tonnes, the department said. Its petroleum products exports fell 0.4% to 3.108 million tonnes.

CPTPP not proving a hit across the board vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Việt Nam has been unable to gain export growth to all CPTPP member countries, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. In 2019, export value surged by 28.2 percent year on year to US$3.86 billion to Canada and 26.8 percent to $2.84 billion to Mexico. Việt Nam had a slight increase at 1.1 percent in export value to Singapore and faced export value reduction to some other CPTPP countries, such as Australia (down 12 percent to $3.5 billion) and Malaysia (down 3 percent to $3.3 billion). In a Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) survey of 8,600 local enterprises, up to 70 percent of them had little knowledge of the CPTPP, while 84 percent lacked information about the commitments in the free trade agreement.

Car prices fall as supply rises VnExpress International 13th Jan 2020
An abundant supply of imports, introduction of new models and stiffer competition have pulled car prices down, industry insiders say. Car imports in the first 11 months of last year doubled year-on-year to almost 133,700 units, most of them from Thailand and Indonesia. Models with the biggest sales, MPV Mitsubishi Xpander and SUV Toyota Fortuner, were all imported. Tightening credit from banks last year had made it more difficult for buyers, leading to an increase in inventory that had to be reduced by lowering prices. Vietnam’s newest car manufacturer VinFast also intensified competition in the market with its SUVs, sedans and hatchbacks. Auto sales in Vietnam last year rose 11.6 percent from 2018 to 322,322 units, with 58.8 percent of them locally-assembled, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Firms urged to comply with origin rules amid escalating protectionism vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade urged firms to strictly comply with rules of origin to avoid negative impacts on exports amid escalating trade defence measures. 2019 saw increasing applications of trade defence instruments by a number of countries and regions around the world. The US-China trade war had not been showing signs of cooling down, which contributes to nations adopting protectionism. The ministry said that Việt Nam was heavily affected by the trend due to its economic openness.

Origin fraud hurt Vietnamese steel in the long run vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2020
International free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) have opened up unprecedented opportunities for Vietnamese steelmakers with the industry forecast to see robust growth. Opportunities, however, will come with challenges as the country’s steel exports have found. A rise in trade protectionism in large markets such as the US and the EU were among the most difficult tasks Vietnamese steelmakers must address. For instance, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) had slapped duties of up to 456 per cent on a number of steel products from Việt Nam including corrosion-resistant steel and cold-rolled steel with S Korean or Taiwanese origin, which had allegedly circumvented US anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, according to the department.