Harrismith, Free State, South AfricaThe South African Cabinet has ratified a decision by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to designate the Maluti-A-Phofung (MAP) logistics hub, in Harrismith, in the Free State, an industrial development zone (IDZ), further approving the granting of operator permit for this zone to the Free State Development Corporation.

The designation would result in the establishment of a logistics-orientated platform 10 km outside of Harrismith, primarily to service the automotive, light manufacturing, agro-processing, distribution and logistics sectors.

The Harrismith hub had become part of a key nodal point of the Durban–Free State–Gauteng Corridor, which was identified in the 2005 National Freight Logistics Strategy approved by Cabinet. According to the DTI, the MAP IDZ would become a multi-sector processing, manufacturing, engineering, logistics services, transport and logistics complex, serving the needs of the upstream value-adding, beneficiation, processing and production service companies operating across sectors and geographical areas in Southern Africa.

The zone would further look to provide efficient IDZ and customs-controlled area operations and processes that would facilitate timeous and cost-effective operations for international and domestic investors.

Customs_&_Central_Excise_logoThe Indian Customs department and international airlines have locked horns over providing confidential data of passengers to the former.

According to a senior Customs official, airlines were not providing information regarding commuters due to which officials were facing problems in curbing smuggling. Due to lack of details, Customs’ anti-smuggling operations were suffering. Another issue was that airlines staff was not present round-the-clock.

“We have asked airlines to provide details over phone as per law. They have to deploy someone in the office all the time as it is in the national interest to curb smuggling. Airlines have been asked to provide details and also depute a staff to answer phone calls and provide relevant details. There is not at all violation of rules in any manner. If airlines refuse to provide details or don’t reply to phone calls, a notice will be issued,” a senior Customs official told media.

Meanwhile, airlines are challenging the authority of the Customs department in this regard. According to sources, Customs department has to provide a written request that was done earlier for getting information regarding travellers. On the other hand, an airline official said, “According to guidelines laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), passenger data should be transmitted electronically. Agencies shall not require a written declaration of baggage from passenger and crew when no dutiable or restricted goods are being carried.”

CBP logoU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a Federal Register Notice inviting U.S. exporters to request CBP’s assistance in resolving disputes with foreign customs agencies over the tariff classification or customs valuation of U.S. exports. CBP explains that it is willing to assist U.S. exporters with these disputes under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO). CBP is very active at the WCO and regularly participates in meetings concerning the application of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS System) and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA). According to CBP, this process was helpful in providing a successful outcome for clients who disputed a foreign customs agency’s classification of imported goods.

Tariff Classification
CBP represents the United States at meetings under the auspices of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (“HS Convention”). The HS Convention is the international agreement that provides that WCO Members will implement the HS System and comply with decisions of the various committees organized under the convention. CBP attends semiannual meetings of the WCO’s Harmonized System Committee (HSC), where contracting parties to the HS Convention examine policy matters, make decisions on classification questions, settle disputes, and prepare amendments to the HS System and its Explanatory Notes.

Article 10 of the HS Convention governs disputes between contracting parties concerning the interpretation or application of the HS Convention. The article provides that parties with potential disputes should first try to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations. If such negotiation cannot resolve the dispute, the parties may refer the dispute to the HSC for its consideration and recommendations. The HSC, in turn, refers irreconcilable disputes to the WCO Council for its recommendations.

Customs Valuation
CBP represents the United States at the WCO with respect to issues arising under the CVA. Pursuant to Annex II to the CVA, the WCO’s Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV) is authorized to examine specific problems arising from the customs valuation systems of WTO Members. The TCCV is responsible for examining the administration of the CVA, providing WTO Members with advisory opinions regarding particular customs valuation issues, and issuing commentaries or explanatory notes regarding the CVA. Like the HSC, the TCCV may get involved in disputes amongst foreign customs agencies. CBP stands willing to help U.S. exporters with these disputes. This process may provide U.S. exporters with a faster procedure to resolve disputes than a typical WTO dispute.

CBP’s Role at the WCO May Resolve Export Issues for U.S. Exporters
CBP states in the notice that its communication with other customs administrations through the meetings of the HSC and TCCV at the WCO can “often serve to eliminate or resolve export issues for U.S. traders.” As an example, in 2014, a U.S. exporter notified CBP of a foreign customs administration’s misclassification of its textile exports. The U.S. exporter requested that pursuant to Article 10 of the HS Convention, CBP (1) contact the foreign customs administration to resolve the tariff classification dispute; and (2) refer the matter to the HSC at the WCO, if it could not be resolved bilaterally. After confirming it agreed with the U.S. exporter’s position, CBP engaged the foreign customs administration directly. Within seven months of the exporter’s request, CBP secured a favorable decision by the foreign customs administration to classify the merchandise in a manner consistent with the U.S. position. Consequently, the U.S. exporter obtained correct tariff treatment of its imported merchandise in the foreign country as a result of CBP’s engagement.

Source: http://www.internationaltradecomplianceupdate.com/

Port of Singapore [Picture credit - singaporevisablog.wordpress.com]

Port of Singapore [Picture credit – singaporevisablog.wordpress.com]

The Port of Singapore has been named the best seaport in Asia for the 27th time – beating fierce rivals Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The honour was given out at the 2015 Asia Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Awards (AFLAS) held in Hong Kong here the other day.

The AFLAS awards, organised by freight and logistics publication Asia Cargo News, honour organisations for demonstrating leadership as well as consistency in service quality, innovation, customer relationship management and reliability.

Determined by votes cast by readers of Asia Cargo News, the Port of Singapore clinched the award for its leading performance on a range of criteria, including cost competitiveness, container shipping-friendly fee regime, provision of suitable container shipping-related infrastructure, timely and adequate investment in new infrastructure to meet future demand and the facilitation of ancillary services.

The other finalists in the Asia category this year were the Port of Hong Kong and Port of Shanghai.

Said Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA): “We will continue to work closely with all our stakeholders to strengthen our competitiveness as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre.

“Singapore will also continue to plan and invest ahead, such as our commissioning of Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 this week which will increase the overall capacity of Singapore’s port to 50 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) when fully operational.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday officially opened the terminals. When the expansion is fully operational by the end of 2017, Singapore will be able to handle a total of 50 million TEUs of containers annually.

MPA said the Port of Singapore continued to achieve good growth in 2014. Its annual vessel arrival tonnage reached 2.37 billion gross tonnes (GT). Its container throughput hit 33.9 million TEUs, while total cargo tonnage handled reached 580.8 million tonnes.

Its total volume of bunkers remained the highest in the world, at 42.4 million tonnes. The total tonnage of ships under the Singapore Registry of Ships was 82.2 million GT, putting Singapore among the top 10 ship registries in the world.

A man, right, speaks to a motorbike taxi driver in front of the gate to China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone's Pudong free trade zone in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The area is a testing ground for free-market policies that Premier Li Keqiang has signaled he may later implement more broadly in the world's second-largest economy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pilot Free Trade Zone’s Pudong free trade zone in Shanghai, China. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone unveiled several measures aimed at improving customs services for high-technology companies in the zone.

An air cargo service center will be set up in Zhangjiang High-Tech Park to provide one-stop customs services including delivery of import manifest, customs declaration and customs inspection, Shanghai Customs said yesterday.

The center will cut customs clearance time to six to eight hours from at least two working days previously.

Customs formalities for imports of reagents, samples and equipment by high-tech companies, bio-pharmaceutical firms and microelectronics manufacturers will be streamlined, benefiting about 900 companies in Zhangjiang and neighboring areas, it said. Customs has also pledged to cut the threshold for small and medium-sized firms to offer offshore outsourcing services and encourage clusters of advanced manufacturing such as aircraft and new-energy vehicles in the FTZ.

Other measures include introducing customized customs services for high-tech companies, setting up bonded warehouses for small businesses and strengthening intellectual property protection.

“These new measures are market-oriented and based on enterprises’ need, and aim to tackle actual problems and boost trade facilitation,” said Zheng Jugang, vice director of Shanghai Customs.

Also yesterday, customs unveiled another eight measures to simplify customs clearance process and boost trade facilitation for all FTZ-based enterprises. They include trading of bonded commodities in the zone and simpler customs procedures for imports of art supplies.

In the first five months of this year, trade in the FTZ totaled 287.1 billion yuan (US$46.3 billion), accounting for 26 percent of the city’s total.

[Picture Credit: John Moore - Getty Images]

Border between South Africa and Zimbabwe [Picture Credit: John Moore – Getty Images]

The SA government is forging ahead with plans for a border management agency to handle all aspects of border control, from security to customs and plant and animal inspection – but MPs have said it can’t be done.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and his defence counterpart Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula launched Operation Pyramid – a transitional arrangement to improve interdepartmental co-ordination – on Friday, while a draft bill to create the legal framework for the agency was tabled at a workshop in Pretoria earlier in the week.

But there are serious concerns about the ability of one entity to manage the diverse requirements of border control, which would require a huge single body that may prove unwieldy, while it would also need to assume some of the functions of the police and defence force. This would put it in conflict with the constitution, which provides for a single police service and defence force.

Section 199.2 of the constitution states the defence force is the “only lawful military force in the Republic”. Establishing a border management agency performing security functions in parallel with the police and SANDF would thus require a constitutional amendment, but this is just one among many challenges.

The need for such an agency arose in the first place because numerous national intelligence estimates had said the lack of co-ordination in the border environment resulted in “significant weaknesses, threats and challenges”.

Briefing Parliament’s police oversight committee this week, Brigadier David Chilembe, head of border policing, outlined steps that had been taken to get the agency off the ground, six years after President Jacob Zuma ordered it to be done.

The Department of Home Affairs, the lead agent in the project, had established a project office to oversee implementation, heads of affected departments had signed a multiparty agreement and sat on a committee together to co-ordinate their efforts, while an interministerial committee ironed out the policy questions.

The Government Technical Advisory Centre in the Treasury was working on the business case for the agency, Chilembe said.
The plan was to set up the agency in stages and identify the legal and operational implications at each stage so they could be addressed.

But a follow-up briefing on concerns raised by MPs after an oversight visit to the Lebombo border post near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga opened a window into the difficulties the agency will face.

The committee wrote a damning report on the Lebombo border post after a visit earlier this year, when MPs found the ceiling was collapsing because air-conditioning ducts dripped on to it, the door was shattered and the gate jammed, meaning it was possible to drive or walk through it without stopping.

Police complained they had to stand unprotected in the sun or rain and had to make their own travel arrangements from town.
Lieutenant-General Kehla Sithole said the problems originated in a 1998 agreement between Mozambique and South Africa for the post to be established as a “one-stop” facility, with officials sitting back-to-back under one roof.

Mozambique later said it had expected South Africa to pay for its construction, but the Treasury balked at this.The resulting limbo meant new facilities could not be built and neither could the existing ones be refurbished because the Public Works Department refused to upgrade buildings earmarked for demolition.

There were perceptions that the SA Revenue Service, which was the lead agency in the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee – the body charged with harmonising the environment since 2001 – looked after its own interests first, leaving the SAPS short-changed in accommodation and office space.

MPs were shocked to hear an 80-room residential complex for SAPS personnel stood empty because police were expected to pay for it themselves but, unlike SARS officials, did not receive an accommodation allowance. As a result, they preferred to rent a shack in town and travel to the border post daily.

There was also no scanner at the border post, meaning truck cargos, for instance, could only be inspected manually. Opposition DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard said this almost certainly meant the majority of vehicles went through the post unchecked, meaning it could easily be used for child trafficking, for example.

Sithole said the lack of a scanner was the result of a Treasury instruction for departments represented at the post to make a joint proposal for one to be procured, instead of each asking for their own – at a cost of millions a unit.

A “scanner committee” had been established in the late 1990s but, because one was provided for in the plans for the one-stop concept, it had yet to be bought.

Committee chairman Francois Beukman said MPs weren’t interested in the history of the problem, but rather in what would be done to get a scanner in place.

ANC MP Jerome Maake, supported by Leonard Ramatlakane, said after the presentation it was clear the border management agency couldn’t work. If it was established as a government department – one of three options on the table – this would create a “super department” that would reach into the functions of the others. This would confuse lines of accountability.

If it was established as a government component under an executive authority, or as a public entity, the other two options, it would run into the constitutional challenges related to the police and defence functions.

“All I see here is problems and I don’t see how they can be solved,” Maake said.

“Maybe you’re just afraid of telling the president, this animal can’t be implemented and you’re moving around it, on the periphery, afraid to just say, no – can we come up with something new?

“This one is not implementable.”

Source: Independant On Line (IOL)

A man who used pet cats as a cover to smuggle drugs valued at £1.2m into the country through Heathrow Airport has been jailed. A London-born dual national, Scott Parker, living in Benoni, Gauteng in South Africa, was handed a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for smuggling heroin, when he appeared at Isleworth Crown Court on June 18, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The 43-year-old, who worked for a company which transports animals, pleaded guilty to attempting to import a class A drug, the NCA added.

He was arrested by the NCA on November 21 last year, at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, after staff alerted the Border Force of a crate used to transport animals from Johannesburg which was unusually heavy when empty.

Officers examined the crates and found compartments containing packages of the class A drug in the base, the NCA said. Forensic tests showed the packages consisted of around 9k of high purity heroin, which if cut and sold in the UK would have a street vale of around £1.2m.

The cats were reunited with their owners, who were completely unaware their animals had been used as a front for smuggling.
Ian Truby, from the NCA’s Border Investigation Team at Heathrow, said: “This was a highly unusual attempt to bring a substantial quantity of class A drugs into the UK.

“Parker thought he would avoid our attention. But the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre staff were vigilant and our investigation showed that he knew the drugs were there. Source: Customs Today

SARS DDU2A gruelling four months of training came to an end during May 2015 as 33 Customs officers and their detector dogs graduated from the SARS Detector Dog Training Academy. A graduation ceremony was held in Pretoria. It was the culmination of a training course where officers were, together with their canine charges, were trained in the finer aspects of the detection of illegal substances and goods in vehicles, vessels, aircraft, containers, cargo, mail, rail, luggage and buildings.

“The substances that they would be able to detect are explosives, firearms and ammunition in addition to narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, mandrax, crystal meth and ecstasy,” states Hugo Taljaard, Senior Manager for the Detector Dog Unit (DDU). “They will also be able to find rhino horn, ivory, wet or dry abalone, crayfish and lion bones. This also extends to currency, tobacco products, copper wire and cell phones,” he added.

The training began in January 2015 and covered both practical and physical aspects. The following modules were accomplished during the development programme:

  1. Bonding and socialisation phase with the dog.
  2. Imprinting of substances.
  3. Paramilitary Drill – Salute and Compliment.
  4. Practical search and detect training on vehicles, vessels, aircraft, containers, cargo, mail, rail, luggage and buildings
  5. Physical training – dog and handling – Theoretical training on identification and handling of narcotics and endangered species; Dog conditioning process; Basic animal behavior; and General dog care.
  6. Change of environment training at land ports of entry.
  7. Formal assessment.

After this training, detector dog units will be established in Mpumalanga (Lebombo Detector Dog Unit), Northern Cape (Nakop Detector Dog Unit), and Northern Cape (Vioolsdrif Detector Dog Unit) to support SARS’ strategic objective to increase customs compliance at ports of entry.

Currently, all SARS DDU recruitment is sourced from within the organisation.

Visit the Servamus website (a community-based safety and security website and magazine) for an article published on Customs Detector Dog Unit – “Sniffing out trouble at SA ports” (May 2015 Edition). Source: SARS and Servamus.co.za

Related articles

WCO

Sudan Customs administration – “Border ahead” The photo shows goods trucks ready to cross the border between Sudan and Egypt. Since April 2015, the Askeit border post is the first and only border crossing point in Sudan benefiting from a Single Window environment, with all relevant authorities gathered under one roof. The volume of trade exchange between Sudan and Egypt through this post amounts to about 185 million US dollars per year, a figure which is expected to increase twofold, or even threefold, over the next few years. [Click on the photo to see all the entries]

Illicit IvoryFrench customs officials said they had intercepted 136 kilos of ivory shipped from the Democratic Republic of Congo en route to Vietnam — the biggest haul in nearly a decade.

Officials at Paris’s main Charles de Gaulle airport found a dozen elephant tusks chopped into 37 pieces hidden in cases under aluminium plates, possibly to confuse scanners.

The haul is the biggest seized by French customs officials since December 2006, when 600 kilos of “white gold” was uncovered.

“This is a sadly typical case,” said airport customs official Sebastien Tiran. There’s one thing that never goes out of fashion and that’s ivory,” he told AFP.

There were “several criteria” that alerted officials to the possibility of smuggling, he explained. “The route, what is declared, documents linked to the declaration.”

Ivory ornaments are coveted in Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and China, and activists say Africa’s wild elephants are being pushed to extinction by the trade. Source: Customs Today

cut-red-tape“Simplifying trade documentation”; “automating border procedures”; “streamlining border controls” – all cliche’s of the modern customs and international trade scene, but just how attainable are they? Beyond the pleasantries, and fanfare of ribbon cutting ceremonies, very little seems to happen at the cold face. Sovereign states are inward-looking and jealously wish to preserve their ‘sovereign domains’.

A major World Trade Organization deal on streamlining global customs rules could cut international trade costs by between 12.5 percent and 17.5 percent, a study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development showed on Thursday.

A deal between India and the United States on the Trade Facilitation Agreement last year, which needs to be backed by all 160 WTO members, had resurrected hopes that the trade body could push through such reforms to cut red tape.

“There are very practical measures that we’ve identified that offer significant benefits,” Ken Ash, the OECD director for Trade and Agriculture, told media.

“Things like simplifying the required trade documentation. Automating border procedures, or streamlining border controls.”
Economists say the Trade Facilitation Agreement could save $1 trillion. Ash declined to endorse this figure, only saying the Paris-based body expected each 1 percent reduction in worldwide trade costs to bring $40 billion in savings.

Australia was to formally accept the agreement later on Thursday, Steven Ciobo, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, said at the news briefing in Paris, making Australia the seventh WTO member to adopt the agreement.

ContrabandA tobacco body has urged African governments to stamp out illegal tobacco trade, as their economies are losing billions of dollars in taxes annually. Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) revealed that governments in the region are losing between US$20 billion and US$40 billion annually in taxes as a result of illegal tobacco trade, hence the need for collaboration among stakeholders to curb the vice.

This is contained in a statement issued by KPR Consulting Limited on Friday. “The size of the global illegal tobacco trade ranges between 330 and 660 billion cigarettes a year. These are cigarettes that are either smuggled, counterfeited or where tax is being evaded. “This equates to around six and 12 percent of global consumption, which deprives governments of between US$20 [billion] and US$40 billion a year in taxes,” the statement reads.

TISA, which is a regional body that represents tobacco traders, growers and processors, estimates illicit tobacco trade incidences in Zambia being between 20 and 30 percent. South Africa is rated among the top five countries globally when it comes to the trade in illegal cigarettes, with industry research estimating that around 23 percent of all cigarettes consumed in South Africa in 2014 were illegal. Commenting on the issue, British American Tobacco Zambia managing director Clara Mlambo cited weak penalties for criminals, poor border controls, low arrest rates and tobacco taxes creating intra-regional disparities as contributing factors.

South African Customs has introduced non- intrusive inspection (NII) capability at the Port of Cape Town. The recent completion of an impressive relocatable scanner facility within the port precinct will now afford state of the art inspection services for customs targeted consignments for inspection. This is the third X-Ray scanner installed and operated by the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

In March 2008, a mobile scanner was implemented at Durban Container Terminal. More recently, a relocatable X-Ray Scanner was implemented adjacent to the container terminal in Durban to allow for improved capacity and efficiency.

The new facility in Cape Town not only extends customs risk and enforcement capability in the use of such technology but acts as a deterrent against any possible threat posed by international cargoes entering or leaving the country’s ports of entry.

In addition to the new x-ray inspection hardware, SARS has developed bespoke support to allow scanned images to be reviewed remotely – away from the port area – affording customs increased flexibility, allowing image analysis experts elsewhere in the country to provide almost real-time analysis and support for the inspection team. The approach also meets SARS differentiated inspection case methodology which ensures that case finalization and cargo release does not rest with a single customs official.

Remote screening analysis is a practice that has already been pioneered in Europe with great effectiveness in recent years.

The benefit of non-intrusive inspection (NII) allows customs to ‘see whats inside’ the container, vehicle or tanker without having to break the seal. All of this can be done in a few minutes. It forms part of Customs overall approach to minimise the time taken to conduct a customs intervention and latent cost, damage and theft which plague conventional physical inspection of cargoes.

The new inspection site also enables SARS to increase its participation and effectiveness in the US Container Security Initiative (CSI) which was launched in Durban, December 2003. Under the CSI Agreement, SARS officials together with US Customs & Border Protection Agency (USCBP) officials – co-located at the Port of Durban – analyze and mitigate risks relating to any containerised cargo destined to ports in the United States.

Credit to Indresan Reddy (Customs Business Systems) for the photographs.

Related documents

securityHong Kong Customs mounted a special operation at Lok Ma Chau Control Point to combat organised cigarette smuggling activities. About 1.1 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes with a market value of about $3.1 million and duty potential of about $2.2 million were seized. A 52-year-old male driver was arrested and the vehicle used for conveying the suspected illicit cigarettes was detained.

Customs officers here the other day intercepted an incoming container truck declared to be empty at Lok Ma Chau Control Point.

After X-ray examination and thorough inspection by Customs officers, about 1.1 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes in 83 carton boxes were found inside a false compartment of the container. The cigarettes were sorted and packed according to orders placed with a view to quick delivery to buyers.

A Customs spokesman said today (June 5), “The operation showed the effectiveness of the enforcement strategy, especially the escalated enforcement actions against smuggling activities at source. Customs will continue to carry out stringent enforcement action against all illicit cigarette activities.”

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offense. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Source: CustomsToday

WCO News Edition no.77-2The WCO’s flagship magazine WCO News, aimed at the global Customs community, has published its latest edition which features a special dossier on API/PNR (Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record) – two key words on the global security agenda.

Other highlights include a focus on Customs laboratories, interviews on the ‘illicit tobacco trade’ and the ‘killing of elephants,’ as well as articles covering trade-based money laundering, strengthening export controls, the illegal vehicle trade and much more.

The magazine is published and distributed free of charge three times a year, in February, June and October, and is available online or in paper format. If you do not want to miss future issues of WCO News, you are invited to fill out the online subscription form. Source: WCO