Below are some of the top recent international developments:
Plastic waste amendments to the Basel Convention in May 2019
One hundred eighty-seven governments agreed to add plastic waste to the Basel Convention, which regulates the international movement of hazardous waste. Exporters must obtain “prior informed consent” from the governments of destination and transit countries before shipping contaminated, mixed, or unrecyclable plastic waste.
For more information, see “Shipping Plastic Waste to Poor Countries Just Got Harder,” May 10, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/shipping-plastic-waste-to-poor-countires-just-got-harder/, and SECURUS Trade analysis – “Plastic Waste Amendments to the Basel Convention in May 2019,” June 2019, http://securustrade.com/plastic-waste-amendments-to-the-basel-convention-in-may-2019/.
AfCFTA implementation process to start following The Gambia’s April 2019 ratification
The Gambia’s parliament ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on April 2, becoming the 22nd member state of the African Union (AU) to do so. For the agreement to enter into force, all 22 member states that have ratified it must deposit their instruments of ratification at AU headquarters and AU member states must negotiate tariffs and rules of origin. Once in force, the AfCFTA will create a single African market for goods and services and liberalize trade, which could increase intra-African trade by approximately 53 percent.
For more information, see “Africa’s Historic Free Trade Deal Now Has Enough Countries Signed up to Go into Force,” April 3, 2019, https://qz.com/africa/1586526/africa-free-trade-deal-gets-gambia-signature-to-go-into-force/, and “Africa’s New Free Trade Area Faces Bumpy Road to Full Implementation,” April 10, 2019, https://www.gtreview.com/news/africa/africas-new-free-trade-area-faces-bumpy-road-to-full-implementation/.
Eritrea closes remaining borders with Ethiopia
In April 2019, the government closed the Eritrean side of the Oumhajir-Humera and Bure-Assab border crossings along the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. The government closed all other border crossings in December 2018. The reason for closure is still unclear.
For more information, see “Eritrea Shuts All Borders with Ethiopia – Unilaterally,” April 23, 2019, https://www.africanews.com/2019/04/23/eritrea-shuts-all-borders-with-ethiopia-unilaterally/.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to launch integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) at main international airports
The iCMS took effect on May 10, 2019, at Eldoret International Airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), and Moi International Airport – the main import-export hubs in Kenya. The system will target all parties involved in cargo clearance, including airlines, shipping agents, importers, exporters, and clearing and forwarding agents. Relevant actors will be required to submit air cargo clearance documentation, such as import declarations, manifests, and security bonds, through the iCMS. However, air manifests for import and export goods must be submitted to the system before a flight takes off. iCMS enables the automatic upload of import cargo information to prevent falsification and the exchange of information through iTax to counter traders’ non-payment of customs taxes.
For more information, see “KRA to Go for Dodgy Importers and Exporters,” April 24, 2019, https://www.the-star.co.ke/business/kenya/2019-04-24-kra-to-go-for-dodgy-importers-and-exporters/.
Ghana’s “GEPA Market Hub” launched in March 2019
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) launched the online platform with two portals as a one-stop shop for international trade. The exporters’ portal is intended for the export and promotion of products, while the buyers’ portal is intended for consumers to access and buy products. Collectively, the hub contains information and resources on international trade that will help stakeholders expand their markets and keep them apprised of “critical market access requirements, certification, and standards in export promotion.”
For more information, see “GEPA Introduces Market Hub Online Portal,” March 8, 2019, https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2019/03/08/gepa-introduces-market-hub-online-portal/, and “GEPA Outdoors a Buyer Portal to Provide Information for Exporters,” October 18, 2018, https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/GEPA-outdoors-a-Buyer-Portal-to-provide-information-for-exporters-693579.
Liberia enacts measures, obtains land to improve business and trade environment
Effective April 1, 2019, importers are no longer subject to “demurrage,” which is a charge that an importer would pay to a vessel owner for failure to load or unload cargo from the vessel within the agreed timeline. In addition, the government has made changes to expedite business and trade processes, such as reducing the number of days to obtain business registration from 18 to 5 days, removing the pre-shipment inspection requirement, and reducing the time to obtain an import or export declaration permit from 3 to 5 days to 3 hours. The National Port Authority (NPA) also acquired a plot of land in Nimba County to create a dry port, which is expected to help reduce transaction costs and improve security in cross-border trade.
For more information, see “Liberia: Port Authority, Finance Ministry Strapping off Demurrages to Alleviate Economic Hardship,” March 25, 2019, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/business/economy/liberia-port-authority-finance-ministry-strapping-off-demurrages-to-alleviate-economic-hardship/.
President of Liberia issued executive order to improve economic activities
Executive Order #96, issued April 10, 2019, enacts measures affecting import documents, duties and taxes, and other areas. For example, it exempts all importers from obtaining import permits and filling out import permit declarations, though importers must continue to notify the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in writing of their intent to import. In addition, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning is now authorized to impose a surtax on import goods that are in competition with local manufacturers and producers.
For more information, see “Liberia: President Weah Issues Executive Order to Improve Business Climate,” April 16, 2019, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/business/economy/liberia-president-weah-issues-executive-order-to-geared-to-improving-business-climate/.
China announces changes to anti-dumping duties for late 2019
The China Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced that a number of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures are set to expire starting July 1, 2019. Persons or businesses that believe they will be negatively affected can appeal the decision starting 60 days before the expiration of the specific anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measure. Measures that are not approved for extension by the expiration date will not be renewed.
For more information, see “Announcement on Imminent Expiration of Certain Anti-Dumping and Anti-Subsidy Measures in the Second Half of 2019,” March 8, 2019, http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/article/policyrelease/buwei/201903/20190302846532.shtml.
Italy becomes part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Italy signed an agreement with China making it one of the first major industrialized countries to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The countries signed over 30 separate agreements on a variety of topics ranging from investment to infrastructure during the Chinese President’s visit to Rome. Altogether the agreements are estimated to have a value of over 20 billion euros (~US$22 billion).
For more information, see “Italy Signs Deal Worth 2.5 Billion Euros with China,” March 23, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-china-deals-factbox/italy-signs-deals-worth-25-billion-euros-with-china-idUSKCN1R40KN.
Vietnam launches CPTPP e-portal
The Ministry of Industry and Trade launched an e-portal with information and regulations related to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), including the full text of the agreement in English and Vietnamese, and Vietnam’s commitments in major sectors. The government will update the website regularly to enable citizens and companies to understand and benefit from opportunities created by the CPTPP.
For more information, see “E-Portal about CPTPP Launched,” March 11, 2019, https://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/219597/e-portal-about-cptpp-launched.html.