Foreign Trade Developments in Asia

Click on any of the following to see the latest foreign trade developments in that region:
Central Asia
East Asia
South Asia
Southeast Asia

Myanmar and South Korea launch cross-river bridge project
The 4-lane, 1.84-kilometer (6,144-foot) bridge will increase traffic and trade flow between the two countries and within Myanmar. The Exim Bank of South Korea is funding a significant portion of the project.
For more information, see “Myanmar-Korea Cross-River Bridge Project Launched,” December 25, 2018,

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,, and “Free Trade for the Pacific Basin as CPTPP Enters into Force,” January 4, 2019,

Central Asia

Kazakhstan prohibited gasoline imports from Russia by rail in August
The Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy issued the ban on AI-92 and AI-98 gasoline in response to concern about a surplus on the Kazakhstan market. The ban went into effect on August 25, 2018.
For more information, see “Kazakhstan Introduces Ban on Gasoline Import from Russia,” August 9, 2018,, and “Kazakhstan’s Ban on Gasoline Imports from Russia to Come into Force on August 25,” August 20, 2018,

Kazakhstan government inaugurated Kuryk Port ferry complex on Caspian Sea in August
President Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated the railway-ferry-car complex on August 11. It will connect multiple European highways and railways to the Caspian Sea. Port Kuryk is a transit hub for cargo traveling between China, Central Asia, and the Russian Ural-Siberian region and Turkey and Europe.
For more information, see “Kazakhstan Launches a Multimodal Transport Hub on Caspian Shores,” August 14, 2018,

Export Development Agency created in Tajikistan
The government of Tajikistan established an Export Development Agency in September. Its purpose is to help Tajikistan locate partners and markets abroad.
For more information, see “Tajikistan Establishes Export Development Agency,” September 7, 2018,

Turkmenistan government issues restrictions on transport of dangerous goods by road
In August, the government of Turkmenistan issued rules of transportation for dangerous goods by road as well as the list of dangerous goods allowed for road transportation.
For more information, see “Turkmenistan Approves Rules of Road Transportation of Dangerous Goods,” August 2, 2018,

Turkmenistan prohibits transit of goods to Tajikistan through Iran Lotfabad customs office
Turkmenistan Customs issued the ban in September 2018. The letter announcing the ban indicated that Turkmenistan Customs would prevent the entry of trucks to Turkmenistan from the Iran Lotfabad crossing point that are intended to transport goods to Tajikistan.
For more information, see “Turkmenistan Bans Goods Transit to Tajikistan via Iran’s Lotfabad Customs,” September 5, 2018,

Transit agreement between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan entered into force in August
A December 2017 agreement to simplify and expedite the transit of cargo between the two countries entered into force in August 2018.
For more information, see “Uzbekistan, Afghanistan to Ensure Mutual Transit of Goods,” August 6, 2018,

Uzbekistan government enables enterprises to export flour made from imported grain
The government of Uzbekistan issued the Resolution “On Measures to Further Support Grain Processing Enterprises and Expand Their Export Potential” in August 2018. The resolution enables Uzbekistan business entities to export flour made by processing imported grain. However, the volume of exports cannot be in excess of 75 percent of the volume of imported grain.
For more information, see “Uzbek Enterprises Granted with Right to Export Flour from Imported Grain,” August 27, 2018,

Uzbekistan national bank and African Export-Import Bank sign cooperation agreement
In September, the National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of Uzbekistan and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed a cooperation agreement valued at US$50 million. It provides for cooperation on trade finance and the opening of credit lines to support exports from African countries to Uzbekistan.
For more information, see “Uzbekistan, African Banks Sign Agreement Worth $50M,” September 6, 2018,

East Asia

More direct flights launched between China and the Philippines
The first direct flight between Guangzhou in China and Davao in the Philippines was opened on December 18, 2018. This marks the fourth city in the Philippines to have direct flights to China, after Manila, Cebu, and Kalibo. XiamenAir, which operated the flight, holds the largest share of commercial flights between the Philippines and China in the market.
For more information, see “The Philippines Adds a Direct Flight Route to China,” December 18, 2018,

China shares customs data with Pakistan
The China General Administration of Customs (GAC) shared customs shipment data with Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the first time in response to urging from the Financial Action Task Force. The data show differences between actual cost of goods and customs declarations and will be used to help with the control of under-invoicing.
For more information, see “China Shares Customs Shipment Data with Pakistan: FPCCI,” January 16, 2019,

China and Germany sign trade agreements
China and Germany signed trade agreements on January 18, 2019, on financial and trade cooperation. They agreed to expand cooperation in the banking sector and work together to expand infrastructure initiatives such as China’s belt and road initiative. They also agreed to support international trade systems and fight trade protectionism.
For more information, see “Germany, China Pledge to Open Markets, Deepen Financial Cooperation,” January 18, 2019,

China imposes anti-dumping duties on chemical imports from India and Japan
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) enacted anti-dumping duties on imports of the chemical orthodichlorobenzene (ODCB) from India and Japan on January 23, 2019. MOFCOM cited significant damage to domestic industry as the reason for enacting the duty collection requirement. Duties on the chemical will be collected at rates ranging from 32% to 70% for the next 5 years.
For more information, see “China Slaps Anti-Dumping Duties on Chemical from India, Japan,” January 22, 2019,

China increases import quota on rice from Cambodia
In January, China announced that it will raise import quotas on rice from Cambodia from 300,000 tons to 400,000 tons in 2019. The announcement came less than a week after the European Union (EU) increased tariffs on imports of Cambodian rice.
For more information, see “China to Increase Cambodian Rice Quota,” January 23, 2019,

China bans imports of all pig products from Mongolia
The China General Administration of Customs (GAC) has initiated a ban on imports of all pigs, wild boars, and pork products from Mongolia in a effort to combat the spread of swine flu. Twenty-five provinces and cities in China have reported cases of the disease, which has resulted in the culling of over 900,000 pigs. The ban is designed to protect domestic industry from the disease, but meat smuggling is common between the two countries.
For more information, see “China Bans Pigs, Wild Boars and Products from Mongolia,” January 31, 2019,

Major customs delays occurred in Chinese ports in late January
Ships carrying coal and iron ore were unable to enter Chinese ports as Customs officials slowed the process of clearing imports of the items. The China General Administration of Customs (GAC) did not provide any information concerning coal or iron ore import restrictions. Multiple ports in China were affected by the clearance slowdown.
For more information, see “Dozens of Coal, Iron Ore Freighters Stuck off China Ports amid Customs Delays,” February 1, 2019,

Hong Kong & Georgia FTA goes into effect
A free trade agreement (FTA) between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Republic of Georgia entered into force on February 13, 2019. Under the agreement, Georgia will eliminate more than 96% of tariffs on products originating in Hong Kong and will give Hong Kong the same treatment as local entities in regard to investment in non-service sectors. The agreement also enacts safeguards for intellectual property rights and creates a mechanism for consultations and dispute resolutions.
For more information, see “Hong Kong, China – Georgia Free Trade Agreement to Enter into Force on February 13,” January 22, 2019,

Investigations into North Korea sanctions violations in Hong Kong increase
Enforcement authorities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) have increased investigations into sanctions violations by North Korea in the past five years. Police and Customs authorities have reported an increase in cases from 13 in 2014 to 182 in 2018. However, instead of prosecutions, the government has deregistered companies or denied entry to suspicious ships.
For more information, see “Huge Increase in Investigations by Hong Kong Authorities into Suspected Breaches of UN Sanctions in Last Five Years,” January 23, 2019,

Japan signs Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Qatar
Japan and Qatar signed a joint declaration and four MOUs during a visit by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Qatar in January 2019. The joint declaration focuses on establishing a strategic dialogue mechanism between the two countries to promote cooperation. The MOUs focus in part on promoting economic cooperation and transport.
For more information, see “New Agreements to Enhance Qatar, Japan Cooperation,” January 30, 2019,

United Nations (UN) accuses North Korea of violating sanctions by selling fishing rights
A UN panel has accused North Korea of violating Security Council sanctions by selling fishing rights to a number of countries, including China, during 2018. The fishing licenses were sold from North Korea to more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels for over 50,000 yuan (US$7,250) per month. The act violates a Security Council resolution passed in December 2017 forbidding the sale of fishing rights by North Korea.
For more information, see “North Korea Accused by UN of Illegally Selling Fishing Rights to Chinese Companies, Violating Sanctions,” January 31, 2019,

South Korea approves imports of certain Kenyan produce
The Animal and Quarantine Agency approved the importation of broccoli and green bananas from Kenya after determining that such produce satisfied the applicable standards.
For more information, see “Boost as South Korea to Buy Kenya’s Bananas and Broccoli,” December 11, 2018,–broccoli/4003122-4891048-mnklayz/index.html.

South Korea’s DAPA modifies trade policy
In an effort to increase defense exports and create jobs, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) shifted the focus of its trade policy from technology transfers to industrial cooperation with foreign companies. With this shift, foreign companies that purchase components from Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will receive an increase in benefits. Another change is the introduction of the industrial cooperation quota system, which requires foreign exporters to supply defense products that are partially made with Korean-produced components.
For more information, see “Arms Procurement Agency Revises Offset Trade Policy Guidelines,” December 17, 2018,

Two Korean ministries pilot blockchain technology for port logistics
The Ministries of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIT) and Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) are piloting the technology at South Korea’s largest port, the Port of Busan, for one year to determine whether it can streamline import and export operations, enable real-time sharing of data, and increase transparency among actors in the logistics industry. If the pilot is successful, the ministries intend to apply this technology to other Korean ports.
For more information, see “Korean Gov’t Pilots Blockchain for Logistics Innovation in Country’s Largest Port,” December 18, 2018,

South Korea and India to increase bilateral trade
The governments are working to conclude Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations and implement trade facilitation measures to increase bilateral trade to US$50 billion by 2030.
For more information, see “India, South Korea Resolve to Raise Bilateral Trade to 50 Billion USD by 2030,” December 19, 2018,

Import inspections of industrial products begin in South Korea
In December 2018, Korea Customs Service (KCS) and the quarantine authorities of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency began inspecting containers of industrial goods imported from China’s Guangdong Province following detection of red fire ants at Korean ports. The ants are suspected as having originated in such imports. The inspections will last for one year and will occur at random at the ports of Busan, Incheon, and Pyeongtaek.
For more information, see “S. Korea to Check Industrial Products to Prevent Fire Ants from Entering Country,” December 23, 2018,

Korea Customs Service (KCS) to use blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies in X-ray screening
KCS will begin using these technologies at the Incheon Customs Express Logistics Center in the second half of 2019 to expedite customs clearance and help prevent the entry of illegal goods.
For more information, see “Korea Customs Service and the Block Chain and Artificial Intelligence Technology Verification,” December 27, 2018,

Korea Customs Service (KCS) simplifies certificate of origin application process for exports
In the electronic customs clearance system UNI-PASS, KCS has created a “pre-filling function” that automatically populates information from an export declaration into a certificate of origin application, thereby reducing the number of entries that an exporter or producer must input manually.
For more information, see “From Export Declaration to Application for Certificate of Origin,” December 28, 2018,

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,

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,

South Korea amends one of its radiation laws
The Act on Protective Action Guidelines against Radiation in the Natural Environment was amended on January 15, 2019, and will take effect on July 16, following revisions to related legal authorities. It prohibits the use of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in products that will be worn by or in close proximity to the human body, such as latex, mattresses, and pillows, and requires manufacturers who produce processed products with NORM and traders who import them to register with the government. Expected changes to the law include prohibiting the import of processed products containing NORM for the purpose of causing “radioactive effects” and the introduction of regular inspections of persons who manufacture or import processed products with NORM.
For more information, see “The Amended Act on Protective Action Guidelines against Radiation in the Natural Environment Promulgated,” January 15, 2019,, and “The NSSC Announces Plans to Strengthen Safety of Products Containing NORM,” November 22, 2018,

South Korea reaches agreement with Australia to export pears from selected regions
Australia has reauthorized Korean exports of pears, which were previously suspended in 2015 due to an outbreak of fire blight. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reached an agreement with its Australian counterpart to export pears from three regions, Hadong, Naju, and Sangju, as long as South Korea provides evidence that these areas do not suffer from the fire blight outbreak.
For more information, see “S. Korea Gets Nod to Export Pears to Australia in 2019,” January 17, 2019,

South Korea resumes oil imports from Iran
South Korea imported its first oil cargo from Iran in four months and is expected to receive another shipment of condensate at the end of January. It resumed such imports after securing a temporary waiver from the United States that enables the country to purchase up to 200,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day. South Korea had stopped importing Iranian oil before the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran in November 2018.
For more information, see “S. Korea Receives First Iranian Oil Cargo in 4 Mths – Data,” January 21, 2019,, and “South Korea to Receive Iranian Condensate Cargoes in Jan after 4-Month Gap: Source,” January 14, 2019,

Taiwan tightens luggage searches during swine flu outbreak
Taiwan air police have introduced more stringent hand luggage checks for passengers arriving from China, Macau, and Hong Kong to combat the spread of swine flu. Kaohsiung International Airport has also installed four additional luggage X-ray machines and deployed additional sniffer dogs. The measures come in response to reports that African swine fever has spread to 24 provinces and cities in China.
For more information, see “Taiwan Tightens Hand Luggage Checks at Airports amid ASF fears,” January 16, 2019,

South Asia

First Afghanistan Balkh-Europe air corridor opened
The first Balkh-Europe air corridor between Europe and Afghanistan was inaugurated on January 9, 2019. The first flight brought five tons of dried fruit to London via Turkish Airlines. Before this corridor was opened, the majority of Afghan trade relied on ground routes through Pakistan.
For more information, see “First Balkh-Europe Air Corridor Created,” January 9, 2019,

Afghanistan prohibits imports of chicken and egg products from Iran
The Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock has banned the import of all chickens and eggs from Iran in order to avoid the outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu in the country. Chickens, eggs, and related products awaiting entry to Afghanistan are also part of the ban. The ban was ordered after Iranian livestock officials detected a positive case in northern Iran, which was then confirmed by the World Organization for Animal Health.
For more information, see “Afghanistan Bans Chicken, Egg Imports from Iran,” February 6, 2019,

Bhutan approves amendment to Montreal Protocol
The parliament of Bhutan ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on January 15, 2019. The amendment restricts the trade, production, and use of hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) identified as greenhouse gases with significant global warming potential. Implementation of the amendment calls for a gradual phase-out of HFCs between 2024 and 2045, and by 2045 consumption and production should be reduced by 85%.
For more information, see “Bhutan Ratifies Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,” January 17, 2019,

India and Norway sign trade agreement
India and Norway signed a trade agreement on January 8, 2019, during the visit of the Prime Minister of Norway to New Delhi. The agreement focuses on strengthening bilateral trade ties and solving issues such as trade barriers. The agreement precedes the signing of an Economic and Trade Partnership between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and India, which is being finalized.
For more information, see “India, Norway to Sign Bilateral Trade Pact on Tuesday,” January 7, 2019,

India imposes anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese products
India imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of 99 different products from China on January 28, 2019. These products include chemicals, yarn, rubber, machinery, and steel. The Minister of State for Commerce stated that the duties were imposed in order to protect domestic industry from cheap imports.
For more information, see “India Imposed Anti-Dumping Duty on 99 Chinese Products as on Jan 28: Commerce Ministry,” January 28, 2019,

India cuts import duties on electronic vehicle (EV) components
On January 29, the Indian government lowered import duties on parts and components of electronic vehicles from 15% to 10%.
For more information, see “Import Duty Cut on EV Components to Spur Electric Mobility: SIAM,” January 31, 2019,

India imposes customs duties on imports of computer components
The Indian government has placed 5% and 10% customs duties on lithium-ion cells and printed circuit board assemblies used to make cellphone battery packs. However, at the same time, the government exempted the parts, sub-parts, and raw materials used to make these products from the customs duties. The duties have been put in place as part of the “Make in India” initiative to encourage more local production.
For more information, see “India Slaps Customs Duty on Lithium Ion Cells and Printed Board Assembly,” January 31, 2019,

Nepal begins construction of international dry port in Kathmandu
The government of Nepal has begun construction on an international dry port in Kirtipur municipality in the Kathmandu valley, a short distance from the Ring Road project. The Nepal Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies is overseeing the project, with funds from the World Bank, and it is expected to cost over US$13 million. The dry port is expected to be completed in 18 months. Once completed, it will become a major business hub connecting Kathmandu to the Fast-Track road project and Ring Road.
For more information, see “Nepal Begins Construction of International Dry Port in Kathmandu,” January 18, 2019,

Pakistan Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approves import/export changes
The Pakistan ECC approved a number of import and export control changes in January. The committee approved amendments to the Export Policy Order to allow for the re-export of imported goods and waived conditions on arrival of humanitarian goods. It also made changes to the import control regime and reintroduced restrictions on used car imports.
For more information, see “ECC Approves Major Changes to Import, Export Policies,” January 16, 2019,

Sri Lanka and Philippines sign cooperation agreements
The presidents of the Philippines and Sri Lanka signed five memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on January 16, 2019, during the Sri Lankan President’s visit to the Philippines. The agreements focused on defense, agriculture, education, tourism, and research. The presidents also restated their commitment to the rule of law during the visit.
For more information, see “Philippines, Sri Lanka Ink 5 Pacts to Expand Cooperation,” January 17, 2019,

Southeast Asia

Brunei revives direct flight to Brisbane, Australia
The Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) will launch four services each week beginning June 11, 2019. The direct route will boost business and trade opportunities between both countries.
For more information, see “Royal Brunei Returning to Brisbane,” January 19, 2019,

Northern Cambodia issues import prohibition on Thai goods
The Choam Ksan district authority in northern Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province issued the ban on Thai fruits, vegetables, poultry, and other goods because Thailand had imposed a similar ban on Cambodian imports through the Anses border crossing. The provincial governor stated that the prohibition will be removed once both parties begin negotiations.
For more information, see “Preah Vihear Bans Thai Goods at Anses Border,” January 4, 2019,

Cambodia tests ASEAN single window’s cargo clearance system; Thailand works to expand window to other ASEAN members
The Cambodian government is now testing the cargo clearance system in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Window (ASW) to improve export processes across ASEAN. The ASW facilitates export procedures, enabling government agencies to exchange commercial, trade, and transport data electronically and securely, thereby expediting cross-border trade transactions. As the ASEAN chair of 2019, Thailand is working to expand the ASW to ASEAN members that have not implemented it: Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Philippines.
For more information, see “Asean Single Window Still in Test Phase,” January 9, 2019,

Cambodia and Vietnam agree to cooperate, enhance connectivity
The governments issued a joint declaration on enhancing cooperation and connectivity at the close of the latest Vietnam-Cambodia Conference on Cooperation and Development of Border Provinces. They agreed to implement cooperation plans, exchange information regularly, coordinate to secure their shared border, and promote connectivity, including of their banking routes, economies, and transportation.
For more information, see “Vietnam, Cambodia Boost Cooperation and Development in Border Provinces,” January 10, 2019,

Cambodia to revamp trade procedures at the border
The Prime Minister of Cambodia announced that the government will embark on plans to facilitate trade in an effort to increase Cambodia’s economic independence and lessen its reliance on preferential trade relationships with developed countries. The government intends to reduce fees for scanning container goods and the authorities operating at border crossings to Customs, Immigration, and Police. One body that is expected to be eliminated is the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General of the Ministry of Commerce (Camcontrol), which is one of Cambodia’s primary inspection bodies. It is anticipated that such changes will expedite trade for exporters.
For more information, see “Camcontrol May Leave Border,” January 14, 2019,

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,

Indonesia issues 2019 import quota for raw sugar
The quota is set at 2.83 million tons for industrial use and will be reviewed every 3 months for any needed adjustments.
For more information, see “Indonesia Sets 2019 Raw Sugar Import Quota of 2.83 Mln Tonnes for Industries,” December 20, 2018,

Indonesia regulates single-use plastics
On December 21, 2018, the Governor of Bali issued a prohibition on single-use plastics, such as shopping bags and straws. The Jakarta administration also is preparing a regulation to do the same. The purpose of these actions is to reduce Indonesia’s growing plastic pollution problem.
For more information, see “Indonesia Struggles with Plastic Pollution; Bali Bans Single-Use Plastics,” December 27, 2018,

Integrated Monitoring Real Time Information Data of Foreign Exchange (SiMoDis) launches in Indonesia
Bank Indonesia (BI) and the Ministry of Finance signed an agreement launching SiMoDis. SiMoDis will integrate import and export transactions through the real-time exchange of information between BI and relevant government authorities.
For more information, see “BI, Ministry Team up to Launch Integrated Forex Data Monitoring,” January 7, 2019,

Indonesia’s Customs and Excise Administration to fully implement electronic data interchange (EDI) system in January 2019
Once it is fully implemented, importers and exporters will be required to file trade documents online. The EDI is an online interface that allows data to be exchanged electronically and in real time between all relevant authorities in the import and export process, such as banks, Customs, and transport actors. The EDI is expected to reduce customs clearance and port handling times.
For more information, see “Bold Reform within Customs and Excise Administration,” January 7, 2019,

Indonesia modifies electric vehicle regulations
The government has lowered the luxury goods tax to provide a financial incentive for developing electric vehicles, and will eliminate the import tariff for electric vehicles.
For more information, see “Govt to Cut to Zero Import Duty for Electric Vehicles,” January 15, 2019,

Indonesia to conduct heightened inspections of horticultural goods
Due to the conclusion of several trade agreements, trade in cattle and crops has grown and thus increased the risk of cross-border spread of diseases. The government will conduct more stringent inspections of horticultural commodities to protect consumers.
For more information, see “Quarantine Inspections Tightened as Agricultural Trade Booms,” January 15, 2019,

Laos and Thailand to increase bilateral cooperation
The governments pledged to enhance cooperation in several areas, including the economy, investment, and trade. They also signed documents on topics such as immigration control and transport to further increase cooperation.
For more information, see “Laos, Thailand Pledge More Cooperation,” December 15, 2018,

Lao government cooperates with Chinese company on clean agricultural development
The government of Laos and China’s Meixiang Agriculture Development Co signed a cooperation agreement that will see Meixiang provide approximately US$13 million to Laos over the course of 9 years. Part of the project includes providing capacity-building to Lao technical staff and farmers to enable the export of clean produce to China. The project will expand trade opportunities between Laos and China.
For more information, see “Laos, Chinese Firm Cooperating in Clean Agriculture,” January 15, 2019,

Malaysia amends customs and excise acts to improve regulation of cigarettes and liquor
Amendments to the Customs Act 1976 and Excise Act 1976 entered into force on January 1, 2019. Heavier fines and longer prison time will be imposed for illicit trafficking of cigarettes and liquor. Additionally, Customs now imposes a minimum import limit on cigarettes for licensed companies.
For more information, see “Customs D-G: Heavier Penalties for Contraband Fags, Liquor Offences,” December 11, 2018,, and “Guan Eng: More Scanners at All Entry Points Next Year to Combat Smuggling,” December 23, 2018,

Malaysia temporarily prohibits exports of shrimp and certain wild-caught fish species
From January 1 to February 28, 2019, the government will prohibit the export of shrimp, mackerel, Indian mackerel, trevally, and Pomfret fish to ensure supplies during the monsoon and festive seasons.
For more information, see “Malaysia to Prohibit Some Fish and Shrimp Exports from Jan 1 to Feb 28 to Ensure Supplies,” December 17, 2018,

Malaysia will install 69 scanners at its ports by the end of 2019
There will be 55 cargo scanners added to all ports and entry points and 8 baggage scanners and 6 body scanners installed at certain airports. The government is increasing the number of scanners to help combat smuggling.
For more information, see “Guan Eng: More Scanners at All Entry Points Next Year to Combat Smuggling,” December 23, 2018,

Malaysia strengthens controls on imports of chili
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (MOA) is strengthening controls on chili imports that fail to satisfy quality, safety, and other standards related to pesticide residues. This move comes following the MOA’s September 2018 suspension of chili imports from Vietnam due to violations of Malaysian standards.
For more information, see “Ministry of Agriculture Tightens Control on Chilli Import,” December 24, 2018,

Malaysia expands import ban on pork products
The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) expanded the import prohibition from Chinese, Hungarian, Moldovan, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian live pigs and frozen pork to a variety of pork products, such as canned and sliced pork, sausage casings, smoked ham, and pork enzymes. The purpose of the expansion is to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) virus.
For more information, see “Malaysia Widens Ban on Pork Products,” December 28, 2018,

Malaysian food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers can apply for sugar import permits
The Malaysian government has ended the sugar monopoly and now allows F&B manufacturers to import refined sugar at a lower price. Previously F&B manufacturers could only purchase sugar from one of two companies in West Malaysia.
For more information, see “End to Monopoly of Sugar Import,” December 28, 2018,

Malaysia will regulate initial coin offerings (ICO) and trade of cryptocurrencies
On January 15, 2019, a government order to recognize digital currencies and tokens as securities went into effect. The Securities Commission Malaysia is expected to create a framework by the end of the first quarter for the requirements to issue ICOs and trade in cryptocurrencies in Malaysia.
For more information, see “Malaysia to Regulate Initial Coin Offerings, Cryptocurrency Trade,” January 14, 2019,

Malaysia and Thailand temporarily extend hours of Bukit Kayu Hitam and Sadao checkpoints
To reduce congestion on the Malaysia-Thailand border, the governments will operate the Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Checkpoints 24 hours a day for a 3-month trial period.
For more information, see “Sadao Checkpoint to Open 24 Hrs,” January 20, 2019,

Myanmar container terminal near Thilawa special economic zone is completed
It is capable of processing two cargo ships at the same time and 200,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually and eventually 1 million TEUs once the second and third phases of construction are completed. The terminal is expected to facilitate shipments of parts and materials to Yangon Industrial Park and shipments of consumer goods to central Yangon. It will be operated by Kamigumi, a Japanese logistics company, and is expected to open by March 2019.
For more information, see “Myanmar Container Yard Backed by Japan Nears Opening,” December 15, 2018,

Myanmar to introduce bonded warehouses, modify certain import duties
Bonded warehouses are customs locations where persons can store goods free of the value-added tax (VAT) or import duties. Their introduction will expedite logistics processes between Myanmar and neighboring countries and can simplify import and export processes. In addition, the government will reduce the import duty on raw materials and increase the import duty on finished products.
For more information, see “Myanmar Introduces Bonded Warehousing, Lowers Raw Material Import Duties,” December 17, 2018,

Myanmar temporarily reopens Kyin San Kyawt border gate on the Myanmar-China border
The border gate, which is used for Myanmar exports of fruit and seafood to China, was reopened on January 10, 2019, on a temporary basis for the fruit season. The gate had been closed since December 27, 2018.
For more information, see “Myanmar Army Shuts down Border Crossing to China, Stranding Hundreds of Trucks,” December 27, 2018,, and “Kyin San Kyawt Gate Temporarily Reopens,” January 11, 2019,

Ministry of Commerce (MOC) works to upgrade Myanmar’s online import-export systems
Although MOC issued many import and export licenses online in 2018, it is in the process of making technical upgrades to its online license system in order to issue all import and export licenses electronically in 2019. MOC also will make available the import-export company registration system and issue certificates electronically.
For more information, see “Issuance Service of All Export-Import Licenses Available Online Soon,” January 16, 2019,

Myanmar-India bridge opens
The Nantpanga bridge on the Ketthar-Aung Zeya-Tamu road will link upper Chindwin in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region to India. This bridge will reduce travel time and increase border trading opportunities with neighboring townships.
For more information, see “Nantpanga Bridge Opens,” January 18, 2019,

New export guidebook for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) launches in the Philippines
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) launched the 2018 Philippine Export Guidebook (PEG). PEG is a reference tool on export business, covering information on export-related laws, export procedures, required documents, and other areas.
For more information, see “DTI-EMB Launches Philippine Export Guidebook 2018 for MSMEs,” December 14, 2018,

Philippines launches pilot program to streamline Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for micro enterprises
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Health (DOH) launched the six-month program in January 2019 for businesses that produce low-risk food products, such as beverages, confectionaries, processed fruits, and spices, with assets not exceeding US$56,700. Under the program, certain micro enterprises will be exempt from obtaining certificates of product registration (CPRs) from the FDA, which are required for a person to import food products to and sale in the Philippines. The FDA also is developing an online portal called Initiative ni Digong Operation Livelihood (IDOL) that will assist applicants in obtaining FDA permits and licenses.
For more information, see “DTI, DOH Streamlines FDA Approvals for Micro Enterprises,” December 21, 2018,, and “Philippines – Import Requirements and Documentation,” November 27, 2018,

Philippines imposes more measures to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF)
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) created an interagency task force to contain the virus. Through interagency coordination, there will be inspections of all vessels with meat supplies and fishing boats returning from the Western Philippines Sea that dock in Philippines ports and inspections of luggage at all international airports and seaports from passengers arriving from ASF-affected countries. In addition, the BAI installed foot baths at the entry points to Clark International Airport and will install these at all other entry points to the Philippines.
For more information, see “Philippines Implements New Measures vs Swine Fever,” December 31, 2018,, “Customs Alerts PH Ports against Entry of Meat from African Swine Fever-Infected Countries,” January 8, 2019,, and “Meat Seized as Gov’t Tightens Alert vs. African Swine Scare,” January 11, 2019,

Philippines Customs to install 50 X-ray machines at airports and seaports
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will install 15 fixed baggage, 25 hand-carried baggage, 4 mobile baggage, and 6 movable X-ray machines, all of which can identify dense areas and distinguish between organic and inorganic materials. The X-ray machines also are equipped with threat image projection (TIP), a feature that will automatically display threat images on the screen to “enhance the alertness” of the X-ray operators.
For more information, see “BOC Installs 50 More X-ray Units,” January 9, 2019,

Work to be started on Philippines’ first liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal
The government has approved Phoenix Petroleum, a Philippine firm, to build the LNG terminal with China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC). Phoenix intends to start on the project this year with commercial operations expected to begin by 2023.
For more information, see “Phoenix Petroleum Gets Green Light for Philippines’ First LNG Terminal,” January 11, 2019,

Philippines Bureau of Customs (BOC) issues memorandum on updated excise tax rates
The tax rates are for products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law and Sin Tax Law, both of which will now be implemented electronically by relevant authorities. Products include domestic and imported coal, lubricating oils and greases, locally produced or imported oils that are reprocessed, refined, and recycled, gasoline, and fuel oils.
For more information, see “Customs Starts TRAIN, Sin Tax Implementation,” January 13, 2019,

Philippines imposes provisional safeguard duty on cement imports
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) imposed a duty of US$0.16 per bag of imported cement following a surge in cement imports that purportedly would hurt local producers.
For more information, see “Philippines Department of Trade and Industry Places Provisional Tariff on Imported Cement,” January 17, 2019,

Philippines postpones implementation of EU REX system
The Philippine government was scheduled to begin implementing the European Union (EU) registered exporter (REX) system on January 1, 2019, but it is still completing two prerequisites for the REX application. REX enables exporters to self-certify eligible goods to benefit from preferential tariffs established in the EU Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
For more information, see “Implementation of Proposed Registration System for PHL Exporters to EU Postponed,” January 19, 2019,

New post-clearance audit (PCA) requirements and prior disclosure program (PDP) established in Philippines customs order
Customs Administrative Order 01-2019 requires the Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG) under the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to perform PCAs on importers, customs brokers, and other BOC stakeholders in order to improve revenue collection and stakeholder compliance. During PCAs, importers must provide full access to their records to BOC. The order also requires PCAG to implement PDP, which enables the Customs Commissioner to “accept prior disclosure on errors and omissions in importers’ goods declarations that resulted in the deficiency in duties and taxes of past importations,” and a “non-punitive facility” that allows importers to voluntarily report errors in their goods declaration to the BOC without sanction.
For more information, see “Customs Orders Post-Clearance Audit of Imports,” January 22, 2019,

Singapore approves export of poultry and poultry products from eight Ukrainian companies
After inspecting the companies and reviewing their applications, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) authorized the companies to export poultry meat, meat products, fresh edible eggs, and egg products to Singapore.
For more information, see “Eight Ukrainian Companies Authorized for the Export of Poultry Products to Singapore,” December 17, 2018,

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,

Singapore Customs requires submission of supporting documents for certain permits
Beginning February 1, 2019, persons must submit supporting documents through NTP for selected permits. Entities are required to create a CorpPass Account and register for an NTP Account to facilitate the submissions.
For more information, see “New Submission Procedures for Return of Supporting Documents for Selected Permits via NTP,” December 19, 2018,

Singapore restricts imports of pork and pork products from China’s Fujian Province
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) issued the restriction following China’s detection of African swine fever (ASF) in pigs in Fujian Province. Processed pork products that are heated according to the applicable guidelines may be exported. Additional documentation is required in veterinary health certificates that accompany processed pork products.
For more information, see “Detection of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China,” December 27, 2018,

Singapore Customs exempts South Africa’s Krugerrand silver coin from GST tax
The Krugerrand silver coin is exempted from the goods and services tax (GST), effective January 17, 2019, because it satisfies the requirements as an Investment Grade Precious Metal (IPM).
For more information, see “Addition of the ‘South Africa Krugerrand’ Silver Bullion Coin as Investment Precious Metal,” December 28, 2018,

Singapore requires state/province codes for fruits and vegetables imported from selected countries
Effective January 7, 2019, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) requires importers of fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables from Australia, China, India, Indonesia Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to enter codes in TradeNet declarations indicating where the products are sourced. Permit declarations with invalid codes will be rejected. The purpose of this rule is to facilitate the traceability of food products.
For more information, see “Declaration of State/Province Codes in Tradenet Permits for Fresh and Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables,” January 2, 2019,

Singapore expands three-quarter tank rule
Beginning April 1, 2019, the “three-quarter tank rule” in the Customs Act will cover Singapore-registered diesel-powered vehicles. Currently the rule only applies to Singapore-registered petrol and compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles. The three-quarter tank rule requires Singapore-registered vehicles to have at least three-quarters of motor fuel in their tank when exiting Singapore through land checkpoints.
For more information, see “Three-Quarter Tank Rule to Apply to Singapore Registered Diesel-Powered Vehicles from 1 April 2019,” January 2, 2019,–threequarter-tank-rule-to-apply-to-singaporeregistered-d.pdf.

Singapore and China’s Chongqing work to improve trade flows, integrate data exchange
The parties are integrating customs clearance and other processes.
For more information, see “Singapore, Chongqing to Boost Trade Flows, Data Exchange,” January 9, 2019,

Thailand amends drug law to legalize cannabis and kratom for medicinal purposes
The amendment legalizes the production, import, export, possession, and use of such products for medicinal purposes. Producers, traders, and researchers will require licenses to handle the drugs, and end-users will require prescriptions to purchase and consume the drugs.
For more information, see “Thailand Legislature Legalises Medical Cannabis and Kratom,” December 25, 2018,

Thai Customs Department signs agreement to provide online payment service
Customs signed an agreement with Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Krungthai Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank to provide a bill payment service through online banking. The purpose of the service to is to facilitate tax payments by business operators, importers, and exporters.
For more information, see “Customs Dept Offers Online Payment Services,” January 20, 2019,

Timor-Leste is drafting a decree to regulate single-use plastics
Under the decree, persons wishing to import single-use plastics will require a license and will be subject to a 30 percent recycling rate on the value of the imports. The government is preparing the decree to address growing pollution in the country.
For more information, see “East Timor: Timorese Government Prepares Decree to Halt Import of Single-Use Plastic,” January 15, 2019,

Vietnam’s Binh Duong Customs signs cooperation agreement with some import-export companies
The agreement will create a means for sharing information and coordinating. It is intended to promote and facilitate trade activities.
For more information, see “Binh Duong Customs Expands Customs – Business Partnership,” December 17, 2018,

Vietnam signs six-year term in United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
UNCITRAL membership will help Vietnam harmonize its national trade laws and consequently reduce obstacles in dispute settlements and strengthen international trade for “sustainable growth.” UNCITRAL is the UN’s primary legal organ for international trade law that works to eliminate legal obstacles to international trade.
For more information, see “Vietnam Becomes Member of UN Commission on International Trade Law,” December 18, 2018,

Port control unit (PCU) launches in Vietnam’s Da Nang Customs Department
The PCU will apply advanced risk assessment and port control measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in various items, such as arms, narcotics, wildlife, and dual-use goods, and the illicit movement of prohibited goods at seaports in Da Nang City. The creation of PCUs is encouraged under the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)-World Customs Organization (WCO) Container Control Program (CCP), which is an initiative to help bolster the law enforcement capacity of governments to better control containers and reduce illicit and transnational organized criminal activities at seaports.
For more information, see “Introducing Port Control Unit under Danang Customs Department,” December 19, 2018,

Vietnam and China to enhance cooperation in border gate management and trade
The countries agreed to upgrade bilateral border gates from 2019 to 2024, jointly explore changes to existing border gate regulations, and increase the exchange of information, including of any updates made to national entry-exit and import-export regulations. Consensus also was reached on measures to facilitate customs clearance, prevent fraudulent trade, combat smuggling, improve the business climate in border gate areas, and upgrade transport infrastructure for export activities.
For more information, see “Vietnam, China to Reinforce Ties in Border Gate Management,” December 19, 2018,–china-to-reinforce-ties-in-border-gate-management.html.

Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) adds five more procedures to Vietnam’s National Single Window (NSW)
New administrative procedures connected to the NSW include non-commercial tobacco imports and import and export license authorization for industrial pre-substances and industrial explosive pre-substances. Businesses will no longer be required to submit physical documents during the customs clearance process for the newly added procedures. The purpose of connecting more procedures to the NSW is to help improve MoIT’s special inspections of import and export goods and to facilitate trade.
For more information, see “MoIT Streamlines Procedures,” December 25, 2018,

Vietnam opens new airport; will begin two additional infrastructure projects
Van Don International Airport, built by private company Sun Group in Quang Ninh province, opened after two years of construction. Sun Group also just announced the development of the Halong-Van Don highway, which will reduce travel time from Van Don Airport to Halong city, and Halong International Cruise Port in Quang Ninh. These projects will create new international trade opportunities.
For more information, see “Vietnam’s Newest International Airport and First International Cruise-Only Port to Open the Wonder of Halong Bay up to the World,” December 29, 2018,

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,

Vietnam prohibits imports of scrap through land border crossings
Effective February 22, 2019, scrap to be used in manufacturing is prohibited from importation through road and rail border gates.
For more information, see “Scrap Imports through Road, Railway Border Gates to Be Banned,” January 12, 2019,

Vietnam to create interdisciplinary working group for scrap management
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) agreed to establish a working group for classifying and taking inventory of scrap shipments in order to accelerate scrap control at seaports. The working group will be responsible for opening scrap containers for inspection and handling under certain circumstances. MONRE is expected to be the lead agency for classifying and identifying stagnant scrap containers to verify whether scrap materials meet Vietnam’s technical, environmental standards.
For more information, see “An Interdisciplinary Working Group Is Needed to Handle Scrap Inventory,” January 13, 2019,

Vietnam-Bulgaria Trade Promotion and Investment Center opens in Hanoi
The center will help Vietnamese businesses increase investment in and exports to Bulgaria and improve access to other European Union (EU) markets.
For more information, see “Vietnam, Bulgaria Boost Trade, Investment,” January 15, 2019,

Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department to implement measures to secure and facilitate trade
In 2019, the department plans to facilitate commercial activities, including by implementing a system for exchanging information with businesses and industry associations through “mobile portals” that will reduce customs clearance time by approximately 70 percent. Ho Chi Minh City Customs also will help prevent smuggling and trade fraud by piloting a centralized risk information and operating center, adopting risk assessment techniques in customs inspections, supervision, and other activities, improving non-intrusive inspections (NIIs), including through the use of new inspection tools, and exchanging information with other actors.
For more information, see “Ho Chi Minh City Customs Actively Supports Businesses,” January 19, 2019,