Below are some of the top recent international developments:
African Continental Free Trade Area agreement took effect May 2019
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement entered into force on May 30. Signatories are negotiating rules of origin, tariff concessions, and other elements to operationalize the AfCFTA. It is expected to increase intra-African trade in the next few years by approximately 50 percent and Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) by approximately US$40 billion.
For more information, see “Africa: AfCFTA Comes Into Force – So, What Next?” May 31, 2019, https://allafrica.com/stories/201905310167.html, and SECURUS Trade analysis – “Agreement Establishing African Continental Free Trade Area Goes into Effect,” July 2019, http://securustrade.com/agreement-establishing-african-continental-free-trade-area-goes-into-effect/.
Trade facilitation and expeditious measures to be implemented at Kenya’s Port of Mombasa
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will start conducting pre-arrival clearance for import goods. In addition, the president of Kenya issued a directive to reduce the number of government agencies operating at the port to three or four: KRA, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), and possibly Kenya Railways (KR). Also according to the presidential directive, import goods that were cleared at their place of origin and have certificates of conformity will not be re-inspected at the Port of Mombasa, unless authorities receive prior intelligence or there is evidence of non-compliance.
For more information, see “Taxman, KPA in Deal to End Cargo Delays at Port,” May 28, 2019, https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/corporate/shipping/Taxman–KPA-in-deal-to-end-cargo-delays-at-port/4003122-5135550-4jnxk6/index.html, “Uhuru Directive on Cargo a Huge Relief for Traders,” June 4, 2019, https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/corporate/shipping/Uhuru-directive-on-cargo-a-huge-relief-for-traders/4003122-5144990-xram07z/index.html, and “Goods Inspection at Port Stopped,” June 13, 2019, https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/news/Goods-inspection-at-port-stopped/539546-5156698-d511kh/index.html.
GCNet introduces upgraded cargo manifest to expedite clearance of goods at Ghana’s ports
The new Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) manifest is designed to ensure that all relevant cargo information is received prior to vessel arrival by enabling shipping lines to submit required information from any location in the world to the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS)/Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance System (GICCS). The new manifest will reduce clearance and turnaround times and clearance costs, and improve Ghana’s risk management and business competitiveness.
For more information, see “Ghana: GCNet Deploys Upgraded Cargo Manifest to Deepen Port Reforms,” May 28, 2019, https://allafrica.com/stories/201905290255.html.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) raises import duty to over 6.1 percent
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) began implementing the new duty rate immediately to increase revenue collection. The regime has increased prices on commodities and consequently caused some importers to close their businesses or leave Nigeria.
For more information, see “Nigerians May Pay More for Commodities, as New Duty Regime Bites,” June 27, 2019, https://guardian.ng/business-services/nigerians-may-pay-more-for-commodities-as-new-duty-regime-bites/.
ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) takes effect
The AHKFTA, which was signed in November 2017, entered into force on June 11, 2019, for the governments of Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. It will take effect in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines once their governments complete the ratification processes. Under the agreement, ASEAN member states will reduce tariffs on Hong Kong commodities over varying time periods and Hong Kong will remove tariffs on all goods originating from ASEAN member states following the FTA’s entry into force. ASEAN and Hong Kong governments also will remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs), improve access for intra-regional service providers, strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary cooperation, and address other matters affecting trade.
For more information, see “ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement Enters into Force,” June 11, 2019, https://asean.org/asean-hong-kong-china-free-trade-agreement-enters-force/, and “Asean-Hong Kong FTA Enters Force to Begin Intra-Regional Tariff Removals,” June 12, 2019, https://www.gtreview.com/news/asia/asean-hong-kong-fta-enters-force-to-begin-intra-regional-tariff-removals/.
Kazakhstan initiated Single Window system in June
Import and export documentation reportedly is available through the system, and traders can submit license or permit applications and other documents to multiple agencies through it. The system is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019.
For more information, see “Kazakhstan Launches ‘Single Window’ Process for All Import-Export Documents,” June 9, 2019, https://astanatimes.com/2019/06/kazakhstan-launches-single-window-process-for-all-import-export-documents/.
Ministry of Economy and Finance launches National Single Window in Cambodia
The National Single Window will enable foreign trade actors to submit required information and documents only once through a single entry point. This will help to facilitate import and export activities.
For more information, see “Cambodia Launches National Single Window,” July 1, 2019, https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50619318/cambodia-launches-national-single-window/.
Singapore updates strategic trade legal authorities
The Strategic Goods (Control) Order 2019 was published in Singapore’s gazette on August 1, 2019, and will enter into force on October 1, 2019. It will update the country’s strategic goods control list to be in alignment with the 2018 Wassenaar Arrangement Munitions List and the 2018 European Union List of Dual-Use Items. Similarly, the Strategic Goods (Control) Brokering Order 2019 will take effect October 1 to include strategic goods technology and the Strategic Goods (Control) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will take effect on the same day. Some controlled transit and transshipment items have been changed in the regulations.
For more information, see “Changes to the Strategic Goods Control List,” August 1, 2019, https://www.customs.gov.sg/-/media/cus/files/circulars/circular132019-ver-1.pdf.
Vietnam and the European Union (EU) sign free trade agreement (FTA)
Under the agreement, the governments will eliminate 99 percent of tariffs over varying time periods and adhere to certain labor rights and environmental and intellectual property protections. The FTA is expected to benefit especially Vietnamese exports of computer parts, smartphones, shoes, and textiles to the EU and EU exports of beef, pasta, and wine to Vietnam. FTA negotiations began in June 2012.
For more information, see “Vietnam and EU Sign Free Trade Agreement,” June 30, 2019, https://www.pulse.com.gh/news/world/vietnam-and-eu-sign-free-trade-agreement/shle68h, and “EU-Vietnam FTA: Two down, Eight to Go in Asean,” July 2, 2019, https://www.gtreview.com/news/asia/eu-vietnam-fta-two-down-eight-to-go-in-asean/.
Mexico eliminated retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products
Following an agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States that saw the lifting of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada, Mexico announced in May that it will lift retaliatory tariffs it had imposed on imports of U.S. pork, apples, blueberries, cheese, potatoes, and whisky. The Mexican tariffs on U.S. imports ranged from 15 to 25 percent, adding up to US$3 million worth of traded goods.
For more information, see “México Elimina Aranceles Impuestos a EU tras Acuerdo en Importaciones de Acero y Aluminio,” May 20, 2019, https://www.proceso.com.mx/584891/mexico-elimina-aranceles-impuestos-a-eu-tras-acuerdo-en-importaciones-de-acero-y-aluminio.