Below are some of the top recent international developments:
Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) revises Customs Code
CEMAC revised its unified Customs Code at the beginning of December 2018. During this meeting, members of the CEMAC Commission, comprising experts from Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, Gabon, and Chad, also discussed proposals for implementing the Customs Code in each member’s legislation.
For more information, see “The Cemac Revises Its Customs Code,” December 18, 2018, http://www.lenouveaugabon.com/economie/1812-14357-la-cemac-revise-son-code-des-douanes.
China lifts tariffs on imports from Hong Kong to mainland
The Chinese government lifted all tariffs on imports of goods from Hong Kong starting January 1, 2019. The tariff elimination occurred under the framework of the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and China. The agreement also calls for strengthening customs clearance procedures and increasing trade.
For more information, see “HK-Origin Goods Imported into Mainland to Enjoy Zero Tariffs,” December 14, 2018, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1131932.shtml.
Korea-Peru AEO MRA now implemented
The authorized economic operator (AEO) mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) was implemented beginning January 1, 2019, and is expected to increase trade between South Korea and Peru. It will reduce import and export inspections, expedite customs clearance, and provide other customs procedure benefits to AEO-certified companies.
For more information, see “AEO Export Company, Faster than in Latin America,” December 28, 2018, http://www.customs.go.kr/kcshome/cop/bbs/selectBoard.do?bbsId=BBSMSTR_1018&nttId=4355&layoutMenuNo=294&siteId=main&searchCtgry=&searchCnd=&searchWrd=¤tPageNo=1&recordCountPerPage=10.
Revised United States-Korea (KORUS) free trade agreement (FTA) effective January 1, 2019
FTA changes include a two-fold increase in U.S. auto exports to South Korea exempt from Korean safety standards, a 20-year extension of the U.S.’s 25% tariff on Korean pickup trucks, and customs procedure modifications.
For more information, see “South Korean Legal Steps Implement Amended KORUS,” January 10, 2019, https://www.americanshipper.com/news/south-korean-legal-steps-implement-amended-korus?autonumber=73157&source=main-feed&taxonomy=secondary_tradecompliance.
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) enters into force
The CPTPP became effective on December 30, 2018, for the first six countries that ratified the agreement (Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore) and immediately removed approximately 90 percent of tariffs on their goods. These countries experienced another round of tariff cuts on January 1, 2019, with the exception of Japan whose second round will occur on April 1. The CPTPP also took effect in Vietnam on January 14. In total, the agreement will eliminate approximately 95 percent of tariffs on goods traded among member countries and will reduce tariffs on certain goods over a period of up to 20 years.
For more information, see “Pacific Rim Trade Deal Enters into Force with Steep Tariff Cuts for Six Nations Including Singapore, Australia, Japan,” December 30, 2018, https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/pacific-rim-trade-deal-enters-into-force-with-steep-tariff-cuts-for-six-nations, and “Free Trade for the Pacific Basin as CPTPP Enters into Force,” January 4, 2019, https://www.gtreview.com/news/asia/free-trade-for-the-pacific-basin-as-cptpp-enters-into-force/.
Indonesia and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) ink free trade agreement (FTA)
The agreement between Indonesia and EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) will eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade for thousands of products. The FTA, which has been under negotiation for eight years, will increase investment and trade between Indonesia and EFTA members.
For more information, see “Indonesia, EFTA Sign Long Delayed Free Trade Deal,” December 16, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-efta-trade/indonesia-efta-sign-long-delayed-free-trade-deal-idUSKBN1OF0EU.
Singapore Customs begins charging for Networked Trade Platform (NTP), launches NTP-Lite
Effective January 1, 2019, traders with an NTP Account will be subject to fees. For traders that require NTP to apply for or access the government’s e-services but do not use other NTP services, Singapore Customs has introduced a free version of NTP called NTP-Lite Account.
For more information, see “Commencement of Charges for Networked Trade Platform (NTP) Accounts from 1st January 2019 and Introduction of NTP-Lite Account,” December 17, 2018, https://www.customs.gov.sg/-/media/cus/files/notices/2018/notice232018-ver-1.pdf.
Vietnam updates bill of lading and manifest requirements for imports
The General Department of Vietnam Customs issued Notice No. 7126/TCHQ-GSQL on December 4, 2018, for the new regulation on bills of lading and manifests for import shipments. Importers must declare certain information on each bill of lading and import manifest for their shipments to be released into Vietnamese terminals.
For more information, see “New Regulation for Bill of Lading and Manifest of Import Shipments into Vietnam,” January 2, 2019, https://www.ajot.com/news/new-regulation-for-bill-of-lading-and-manifest-of-import-shipments-into-vietnam.
Pakistan Customs prohibits direct clearance for over 500 products
Pakistan Customs has barred importers from self-filing goods declarations for more than 500 products in 15 tariff categories. It will be necessary for importers to file declarations through customs agents instead. Officials stated that the self-filing ban is designed to reduce money laundering, misdeclaration, and undervaluation of goods.
For more information, see “Customs Bars Direct Clearance of 500 Imports,” December 25, 2018, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/410340-customs-bars-direct-clearance-of-500-imports.
Argentina inaugurates its Single Window of Foreign Trade (VUCE)
VUCE is a digital platform that will consolidate and allow all foreign trade procedures to take place electronically. The government of Argentina hopes that by November 2019 all foreign trade operations will be completely digitized.
For more information, see “Argentina Pone en Marcha la Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior para Impulsar las Exportaciones,” December 14, 2018, https://www.mundomaritimo.cl/noticias/argentina-pone-en-marcha-la-ventanilla-unica-de-comercio-exterior-para-impulsar-las-exportaciones.