Below are some of the top recent international developments:
Five East and Southern African countries sign trade continuity agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) in preparation for Brexit
The UK reached the agreement with Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe to ensure that bilateral trade is uninterrupted by Brexit. It generally replicates the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) the countries signed with the UK in 2009 by continuing to allow them to export goods to the UK tariff-free. The UK-Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Trade Continuity Agreement will enter into force as early as March 29, 2019, if the UK and EU fail to reach a withdrawal agreement, or as late as January 2021, when Brexit implementation is expected to end.
For more information, see “UK and Five African Countries Sign Agreement to Ensure Trade Continuity after Brexit,” February 5, 2019, http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/uk-and-five-african-countries-sign-agreement-to-ensure-trade-continuity-after-brexit-2019-02-05/rep_id:4136.
New cargo inspection rules to be enforced in Kenya
Effective January 23, 2019, the government no longer will grant importers exemptions from Notice No. 127, which requires importers to have their cargo inspected in the country of origin in order to enter Kenya. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) will only conduct inspections for import goods with an accompanying Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVOC).
For more information, see “Ministry to Enforce Directive on Cargo Inspection,” January 24, 2019, https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Ministry-to-enforce-directive-on-cargo-inspection/1056-4948328-3il9ia/index.html.
Ghana’s “First Port Duty Rule” to become operational in March 2019
The rule permits customs authorities from neighboring landlocked countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali, to be stationed at Ghana’s ports in order to collect taxes on transit goods. The purpose of this rule is to prevent diversion of transit goods that results in loss of revenue.
For more information, see “‘First Port Rule’ Comes into Operation in March,” January 20, 2019, https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2019/01/17/first-port-rule-comes-into-operation-in-march/.
Cambodia issued multiple trade facilitation measures in February 2019
Through Sub-Decree 27, the government removed the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (Camcontrol) of the Ministry of Commerce, one of Cambodia’s main inspection bodies, from all seaports, border checkpoints, special economic zones (SEZs), and other import and export inspection zones. Similarly, the government removed the Kampuchea Shipping Agency and Brokers (Kamsab), a state agency tasked with facilitating trade via ships, from its seaports via Sub-Decree 31. In addition, the government eliminated the export management fee (EMF), which requires local exporters to pay for certificates of origin (COs), reduced inspection fees for import and export containers that are to be scanned beginning April 1, 2019, and will lower fees for the stamping of customs papers. These changes are intended to counteract European Union (EU) proceedings to end Cambodia’s preferential trade status.
For more information, see “Container Fee to Fall,” February 1, 2019, https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50574616/container-fee-to-fall/, “Camcontrol Removed from Borders,” February 4, 2019, https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50574979/camcontrol-removed-from-borders/, “Shipping Agency Terminated,” February 7, 2019, https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50575884/shipping-agency-terminated/, and “Cambodia Unveils Measures to Counteract EU’s Possible Trade Sanctions,” February 13, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-02/13/c_137818318.htm.
Laos eliminates tariffs on approximately 8,500 ASEAN imports
The government eliminated the import tariffs on 8,536 items to help establish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area.
For more information, see “Laos Cuts Import Tariffs on over 8,000 ASEAN Goods,” January 23, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/23/c_137767797.htm.
Parliament of Singapore passes bills in February 2019 that change food and non-food plant and animal regulation
With the passage of the “National Parks Board (Amendment) Bill,” the National Parks Board (NParks) will handle all matters concerning non-food plants and animals effective April 1, 2019. It will acquire these responsibilities from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). In addition, NParks will oversee disease detection at import and other possible incursion points, and will establish a new body, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), to function as the main point of contact for animal-related issues. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is a statutory board within the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources that formed April 1, in accordance with the recently passed “Singapore Food Agency Bill.” SFA will take over AVA’s food safety and security responsibilities, the Health Sciences Authority’s responsibility to analyze food samples, and the National Environment Agency’s responsibility to regulate food hygiene at the retail level. SFA purportedly will require importers of key food items to “adopt plans to mitigate any supply disruption.” The government dissolved the AVA on April 1.
For more information, see “Singapore Food Agency to Focus on Food Safety and Security: Masagos,” February 12, 2019, https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-food-agency-focus-food-safety-and-security-masagos, “Parliament: New Agency Will Strengthen Singapore’s Food Security, Says Masagos,” February 13, 2019, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parliament-new-agency-will-strengthen-singapores-food-security-says-masagos, and “NParks to Become Lead Agency for Animal and Wildlife Management,” updated February 15, 2019, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/parliament-nparks-lead-agency-animal-wildlife-management-11233900.
Singapore updates scheduled items in the Strategic Goods (Control) Regulations that require transit or transshipment permits
The government added more dual-use goods to the Fourth Schedule, which lists strategic goods that require permits to be transshipped in Singapore, and dual-use and military goods to the Fifth Schedule, which lists strategic goods that require permits to transit Singapore. These changes will enter into force on May 1, 2019.
For more information, see “Changes to the List of Items Requiring Mandatory Transhipment and Transit Permits under the Fourth and Fifth Schedules of the Strategic Goods Control Regulations,” February 25, 2019, https://www.customs.gov.sg/-/media/cus/files/circulars/circular042019-ver1.pdf.
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.
Caribbean countries ban imports of single-use plastics
Beginning January 1, 2019, Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Granada, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago agreed to ban the importation of plastic boxes and single-use plastics. They joined other countries in the region that have already implemented the ban: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Colombia, Guyana, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos.
For more information, see “El Caribe Prohíbe Plásticos de un Solo Uso,” January 25, 2019, https://lanotatucuman.com/el-caribe-prohibe-plasticos-de-un-solo-uso/.
Chile-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) modernization enters into force
At the beginning of February, the Chile-Canada FTA modernization entered into force. The modernization includes new rules and regulations concerning sanitary and phytosanitary controls; technical trade barriers; and modifications to the chapters on “Public Purchases and Investments” and “Trade and Gender.”
For more information, see “Entró en Vigencia Modernización del TLC entre Chile y Canadá,” February 4, 2019, http://www.estrategia.cl/texto-diario/mostrar/1319392/entro-vigencia-modernizacion-tlc-entre-chile-canada.