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/.
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/.
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/.
Cambodia and Thailand reconnected by rail, open cross-border friendship bridge
The governments reconnected their rail networks, which were separated since 1974, to help improve transportation, trade, and connectivity, including with other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Greater Mekong Sub-region countries. The rail connection will facilitate and reduce the cost of cargo transport. The governments also opened the Stung Bot-Ban Nong Ian Friendship Bridge, which is to be used solely for the conveyance of cargo. It, too, is expected to facilitate bilateral cargo transport.
For more information, see “Cambodia, Thailand Join Railroad Networks, Open Cross-Border Bridge,” April 29, 2019, https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50597004/cambodia-thailand-join-railroad-networks-open-cross-border-bridge/.
Thailand approves Hazardous Substance Act amendments
The government approved amendments to the country’s principal chemical law on April 30, 2019, which will subsequently enter into force on October 28, 2019. The amendments are designed to simplify the process for transboundary shipments by distinguishing between them and other import and export shipments. To do so, the government changed the validity period of transboundary shipment licenses from 90 to up to 45 days and created a requirement for these types of shipments to leave Thailand’s ports within 5 days of undergoing a customs inspection.
For more information, see “Thailand Approves Revisions to Hazardous Substance Act,” May 2, 2019, https://chemicalwatch.com/77075/thailand-approves-revisions-to-hazardous-substance-act.
Russia relaxed arms resale rules in May 2019
The Russian government adopted Resolution No. 586 of 10 May 2019 “On Amendments to the List of Documents Submitted by Subjects of Military-Technical Cooperation to Federal Executive Authorities in Approval of Draft Decisions of the President of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation and / or the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation on the Supply of Military Products.” It amended export control rules governing resales of previously licensed Russian arms exports. Prior to the amendment, Russian export control rules required a secondary arms buyer to inform the Russian government in writing that it would be the final end-user of the item. Under the amended rules, the original buyer/end-user now can inform the Russian government that the secondary buyer/end-user will not resell the weapons to a tertiary buyer/end-user. The amendment came in response to arms buyers’ concerns about being targeted by U.S. sanctions for buying Russian munitions. The text of the resolution is available at http://docs.cntd.ru/document/554558085.
For more information, see “Russia Eases Arms Resale Rules to Avoid Sanctions – Reports,” May 15, 2019, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/05/15/russia-eases-arms-resale-rules-to-avoid-sanctions-reports-a65585.
Central American Single Declaration (DUCA) went into force at the beginning of May
Since May 7, 2019, traders in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama have operated under the new DUCA system. The requirement for the development of the DUCA system stems from the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union. The Single Central American Customs Form (FAUCA) has been replaced by the DUCA-F, the Single Transit Declaration (DUT) has been replaced by the DUCA-T, and the Declaration of Merchandise (DM) has been replaced with the DUCA-F.
For more information, see “Fallas en Sistema de Aduanas Paraliza Tránsito de Mercancías en Centroamérica,” May 9, 2019, https://www.estrategiaynegocios.net/lasclavesdeldia/1282779-330/fallas-en-sistema-de-aduanas-paraliza-tr%C3%A1nsito-de-mercanc%C3%ADas-en-centroam%C3%A9rica, and “Aduanas Seguirán en Contingencia hasta el 17 de Junio,” June 4, 2019, https://elmundo.sv/aduanas-seguiran-en-contingencia-hasta-el-17-de-junio/.
Legislation to control trade in firearms, munitions, explosives, and related material goes into effect in Honduras
The Law on Firearms, Munitions, Explosives, and Related Material Control, which recently entered into force, replaces a series of norms that had governed the control of these items. The law regulates the importation, exportation, registration, transit, transport, transfer, distribution, custody, commercialization, intermediation, use, storage, manufacture, illicit manufacture, traffic, illicit traffic, modification, repair, and reloading of these items. In addition, the law establishes a System of Control and Firearms Registry.
For more information, see “Honduras Cuenta con Legislación para Control de Armas de Fuego,” May 8, 2019, https://elperiodicocr.com/honduras-cuenta-con-legislacion-para-control-de-armas-de-fuego/.
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.