Customs logoI was surprised to come across this article, especially since I always believed Pakistan to be a militant country – certainly not one that would consider the memories of past customs officials.

Rich tribute was paid to retired and deceased customs Officials of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region recently during an award ceremony for retired officers and heirs of dead customs officials, held in Customs House Peshawar.

A large number of retired and relatives of dead customs officials attended the ceremony and received awards for their performance and services.

Speaking on the occasion, Custom Collector Peshawar Muhammad Aamir said that the function was organised on the instruction of Prime Minister Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, to pay tribute to retired custom officials who played crucial role to generate the revenue and serve the country. Muhammad Aamir informed that the collectorate has also hired the family members of those officials who died in the line of duty.

Retired Customs officials thanked the collector who gave a wonderful farewell to them for the first time and said that the department gave us respect and honor; however, they appealed the serving officials to do their best to generate the revenue for government exchequer.

Custom Collector Peshawar Muhammad Aamer distributed awards among retired superintendents, inspectors, hawaldars, constables and family members of dead customs officials who retired during last two years.

Collectorate of Customs Peshawar was officially established in July 1974 from the Collectorate of Land Customs and Central Excise Lahore. History of Customs in this part of Pakistan is as old as trade itself. Its jurisdiction extends over traditional trade routes with Afghanistan. Prior to establishment of Lahore Collectorate. Traditionally, Peshawar Customs have to contend with tough conditions in the field of enforcement. Proximity with Afghanistan having a long porous border on which only a couple of Customs stations are established, makes checking of smuggling more difficult. Enforcement of Customs controls is made further difficult due to fragile security situation on the border, roughness and ruggedness of the tribesmen, harshness of the terrain, occasional and insufficient power supply and absence of regular criminal law.

Source: Customs Today & Pakistan Customs

WCO & BrokersThe International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations (IFCBA) marked its 25th anniversary by holding its Board of Directors meeting at WCO headquarters on 18 and 19 May 2015.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya addressed the meeting to stress the importance of the partnership between Customs and Customs brokers, given that Customs performance is often affected by that of service providers, including Customs brokers. Bearing in mind the need to maintain a quality service by and cooperation with Customs brokers, he explained that the WCO was carrying out a survey of its Members’ institutional frameworks for Customs brokers.

During their interaction with Secretary General Mikuriya, representatives of the IFCBA expressed an interest in working with Customs to adjust their way of doing business to the evolving trade environment, including electronic data transfer, and in assisting small and medium-sized enterprises participate in the increasingly complex global trading system. They also discussed the need to provide capacity building for brokers and to improve integrity.

Mr. Shantanu Bhadkamkar, Chairman of the IFCBA, expressed his appreciation for WCO support in improving Customs brokers’ operations and stated that, with its network of people working at borders, the IFCBA was confident that it could play a role in contributing to efficient border procedures and thereby economic competitiveness, including enabling small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from international trade. Source: WCO

Zimra-press statementThe movement of commercial cargo has relatively improved at most of the country’s ports after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) addressed some of the teething challenges affecting its customs online clearance system. Zimra is now using an advanced Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) for clearing commercial cargo entering or leaving the country.

However, when Zimra started upgrading its online clearance system on May 10, cargo had been stuck due to a systems failure at most of the country’s borders especially at Beitbridge Border Post, the busiest port of entry in Zimbabwe and gateway to Southern Africa.

Close to 15 000 haulage trucks per month pass through Beitbridge going either side of the border.

Zimra’s director of corporate and legal affairs, Florence Jambga, said in a recent statement that the upgrading of the customs clearing system had met with technical challenges.

“The authority is in the process of rectifying these challenges for normal online transactions to continue. Alternative measures have been put in place at all ports of entry and exit to facilitate smooth movement of cargo and reduce inconveniences to our valued clients.

“Zimra, therefore, urges its clients to approach their respective station managers for any challenges they may encounter in the movement of their cargo during this transitional period. Any inconveniences caused during this period are sincerely regretted,” she said.

In separate interviews, customs clearing agents and importers yesterday said the movement of cargo had improved as from Saturday evening.

Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe board member Mr Osbert Shumba said though the situation had relatively improved, they remained cautious.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and we are very hopeful that things will get back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.

At the Beitbridge Border Post, commercial cargo had been stuck there since Sunday last week resulting in truckers piling up on the South African side of the border.

Under a normal clearance system, cargo has to move to either side of the border after getting prior notification that the export or import papers have been processed.

By end of day yesterday trucks entering or leaving the country were being cleared expeditiously.

Asycuda is a more efficient and advanced system for customs data processing since it is Internet based.

The system allows that any clearing agent registered with Zimra can lodge a bill of entry from anywhere in the world where there is Internet connectivity. Communication between Zimra and the agent is, therefore, done electronically. Source: Customs Today

Namibian police inspect over 1,000 boxes of impounded cigarettes at a roadblock in Rundu [Coastweek]

Namibian police inspect over 1,000 boxes of impounded cigarettes at a roadblock in Rundu [Coastweek]

Two suspects have appeared in a Namibian regional court Monday in connection with more than 1,000 cartons of cigarettes confiscated by the police Thursday last week.The two, both said to be Zimbabweans, appeared before a Rundu Magistrate in the northern Kavango region after their arrest over the 11.3 million Namibian dollars (940,000 U.S. dollars) cigarette contraband destined for South Africa.

The two were each charged with two counts of contravening the Custom and Excise Act 20 of 1998 and non-declaration of goods upon entering Namibia as well as the Prevention of Organized Crime Act 29 of 2004 of money laundering.

The accused persons were not asked to plead and their case was then postponed to July 8 for further police investigation. Acting on a tip-off, customs officials and the police raided two trucks en-route to South Africa and discovered 1,130 boxes that were hidden in fuel tankers. Source: http://www.spyghana.com/

man+found+dead+on+shipThe body of a man, presumed to be a stowaway from Africa, has been found in the cargo hold of a ship carrying bags of cocoa beans to the U.S.

The UK-flagged Sian C was being unloaded at Pier 84 on the Delaware River, Philadelphia, when the body was found on Monday. The vessel had docked last Thursday after a 5,000 mile voyage from the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire).

Authorities were called to recover the decomposing body, and customs officials are trying to identify the man. He was found with a backpack containing some provisions and a pair of boots.

The man may have died as a result of suffocation or been crushed by the bags of cocoa beans, reports local media.

The IMO conducted a regional seminar on stowaways in the Ivory Coast in March which was hosted by the Ministry of Transport of Côte d’Ivoire. Participants agreed that port facilities need to further strengthen their capacities for surveillance and access control in order to reduce the incidence of stowaways.

The 12 most frequent ports of embarkation for stowaways are the major ports of Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The International Group of P&I Clubs (Protection and Indemnity insurance) puts the annual cost of all stowaway cases worldwide at approximately $15.3 million (measured from February 2011 to February 2012). Source: www.maritime-executive.com

Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomes  delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers.

Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomes delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers.

The 14th annual WCO IT Conference & Exhibition was officially opened on 6 May 2015 in Freeport (Bahamas). Senior Government representatives of The Bahamas Government opened the 3-day Conference in the presence of over 400 participants from 75 countries.

The Right Honorouble Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas thanked the WCO for choosing The Bahamas for this very important global Conference. The hosting of this WCO event is an example of the government’s commitment to bring business opportunities to Grand Bahama!

The Prime Minister further continued by reminding the delegates that the WTO concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 and about its potential of reducing international trade costs of approximately 12%. He underlined that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement owes much to the technical work that had already been carried out at the World Customs Organization.

In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed: “Our efforts are very much consistent with the theme of this Conference “Inclusiveness Through Information Technology”. It is in our interest here in The Bahamas to pursue an inclusive approach to the introduction of the new IT systems. These new systems must bring benefits, not only to government, but also to commercial operators and to the general public who will use these services. We recognize that with the introduction of these IT systems we must adopt a more client focused and customer orientated approach to make it easier to conduct business.”

The Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomed the delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers. The Secretary General emphasized the theme of this year’s Conference “Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies”, adding that it addresses three key priorities of the WCO Members – Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, Regional Economic Integration and Coordinated Border Management.

Mr. Charles Turner, Comptroller of Customs and Excise Department of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, stressed that the IT Conference & Exhibition comes at an important juncture for The Bahamas as the Customs Department implements the Trade Sector Support Program. Having such a broad range of exhibitors and international delegates provides a rare opportunity to share ideas and learn from the experiences of others. Source: WCO

OMD_7760The Correlation Tables between the 2012 version and the 2017 version of the Harmonized System (HS) are an essential device for preparation of new national Customs tariffs and a trade statistical classification based upon the HS Nomenclature 2017 Edition; modification of HS-based international Nomenclatures such as the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) and the Central Product Classification (CPC); and preparations for possible WTO negotiations.

At its 55th Session in March 2015, the HS Committee examined and approved the Correlation Tables correlating the 2017 and 2012 versions of the HS.

Table І establishes the correlation between the 2017 version and the 2012 version of the HS. It contains remarks opposite certain correlations briefly specifying the nature of the goods transferred. In many cases, reference has also been made to the amended legal provisions.

Table ІІ establishes the correlation starting from the 2012 version to the 2017 version. It is simply a mechanical transposition of Table І and therefore includes no remarks. Source: WCO

main_building_of_Dubai_CustomsDubai Customs (DC) has earned the coveted Enterprise Architecture Award 2015, presented by Frost & Sullivan; a world leader in growth consulting and the integrated areas of technology research, market research, mega trends, economic research, customer research, competitive intelligence, and corporate strategy.

The award was presented to Dubai Customs to recognise its Business Capability Management, developed by the Business Process and Enterprise Architecture at the Customs Development Division to upgrade corporate capability at Dubai Customs.

Commenting on the advantages of the Business Capability Management, Juma Al Ghaith, Executive Director of Customs Development Division, said that the project provides a comprehensive connected view of DC’s business capability and determines the gaps and requirements of business units while putting forth a plan to fill these gaps. It also pinpoints strength and weakness points to help make informed decisions, offers improvement recommendations for business capabilities and devises an action plan for implementing these recommendations.

Creatively upgrading the enterprise architecture helps create a conducive environment for divisions and departments in DC to bond and better manage capabilities, allowing DC to determine its structural strategy and formulate a clear road map and initiatives for corporate changes.

The Enterprise Connected View links and documents all corporate components, allowing a more accurate and speedy decision making process and facilitating an effective change management.

Counting Frost & Sullivan’s EA Award 2015 in, Dubai Customs has scooped three global awards for its “Business Capability Management and Enterprise Architecture” in 2014 and 2015,The Business Capability Management focuses on four aspects: People, Process, Technology and Information.It identifies capabilities and measures them against world-class criteria to ensure optimal performance, revenue and sustainability.

Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Awards recognize companies throughout a range of regional and global markets for superior leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Frost & Sullivan, founded in 1961, has more than 40 global offices with more than 1,800 industry consultants, market research analysts, technology analysts and economists. Source: CustomsToday.pk

WCO Sub-Saharan Customs Modernisation Programme NewsletterHerewith a new newsletter informing about developments of Capacity Building Projects in Sub- Saharan African Customs Unions as sponsored by the government of Sweden. The project includes the WCO- EAC CREATE Project, the WCO- WACAM Project, The SACU Connect Project and the WCO INAMA Project.

With this newsletter we share with you updates about ongoing activities as well as an outlook for the events of the upcoming months. Click this hyperlink to download the newsletter.

Whilst this newsletter can only provide a snapshot of key developments, it may raise your awareness and encourage you to address us for more detailed publications or to contact us. Source: WCO

TArtist's Illustration -DEME Grouphe Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has signed a milestone contract for the construction of the first phase of a new $1.82 billion mega port in Singapore.

The contract was awarded to a joint venture between the Dredging International Asia Pacific Ltd., a subsidiary of Belgium’s DEME Group, and South Korea’s Daelim.

The project, formally known as the Tuas Terminal Phase 1 Reclamation, Wharf Construction and Dredging Project, entails the construction of a new port terminal with 20 deep-water berths having a total capacity of 20 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per annum. The Joint Venture will be responsible for the construction of an 8.6-kilometer quay wall and its foundation, the dredging of the fairway and basins, as well as the reclamation of 294 hectares of new land.

This major project is expected to complete within six years, and has been awarded to the Joint Venture for a Contract value of SGD 2.42 billion (or approximately US $1.82 billion).

Beginning in 2030, the Government of Singapore will start to consolidate its container port facilities at Tuas. New technology will be introduced at the greenfield site to create a hypermodern, innovative and largely automated logistics hub. The consolidation will also free up existing port land near the city centre for future urban redevelopment.

The Tuas Terminal Project is anticipated to ensure that Singapore’s leading global hub port continues to have sufficient capacity in the long term to meet industry demand.

Singapore ranks as the world’s second busiest container port handling 33.9 million 20-foot containers in 2014, according to the MPA. The Port of Shanghai ranks as number 1 with 35.2 million TEU in 2014. Source: Gcaptain.com

Cigarettes+XXX+smokingRampant cigarette smuggling isn’t the problem in New York–“sky-high” tobacco taxes are, according to an op-ed by Patrick M. Gleason, director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, in The Wall Street Journal.

Gleason’s opinion piece, titled “A Laffer Curve for Smokes,” digested here, takes the city and state of New York to task for their $180-million lawsuit against UPS over what officials allege was unlawful delivery of nearly 700,000 cartons of cigarettes. (A Laffer curve, named for economist Arthur Laffer, shows the relationship between rates of taxation and levels of government revenue.)

“This misguided lawsuit demonstrates once again that too many in government do not understand the root cause of cigarette smuggling. New York state levies the highest cigarette tax in the nation, $4.35 per pack, and New York City tacks on an additional $1.50 local tax. All told, the cost of one pack there can run to $12 or more.

“The result? Most of the cigarettes smoked in New York, 58%, are smuggled in from out of state, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. The higher that revenue-hungry politicians raise tobacco taxes, the more profit smugglers can make.

“Politicians never learn. Of the 32 state tobacco tax increases that went into effect between 2009 and 2013, only three met or exceeded revenue projections, according to industry data.

“Lawmakers can claim they’re raising taxes on cigarettes to reduce smoking and improve public health. That talking point is belied by the recent imposition of taxes on electronic cigarettes, which are saving lives by delivering nicotine in puffs of water vapor instead of chemical-filled smoke. There are more than 15 tax bills pending across the country for currently untaxed e-cigarettes. Hawaii is proposing a tax of 80%, New York of 75%, Oregon of 65% and Ohio of 60%.

“For politicians, cigarette taxes are—and have always been—about one thing: money.

“New York state officials claim that the cigarette smuggling via UPS cost the treasury $29.7 million in lost tax revenue. That’s less than 0.03% of the state budget. The $4.7 million allegedly lost by New York City represents less than 0.006% of its budget.

“For a mere rounding error, state and city officials want to grab $180 million from UPS. That’s $180 million UPS could use to hire new workers, give employees raises, or invest back into its business. The leaders of New York and New York City should drop this silly lawsuit and find a more productive use of their time.”

Click here to view the full Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Lebombo border post has been closed until further notice Friday17 April 2015 after an unruly mob barricaded the N4 near Ressano Garcia, targeting trucks with South African registration numbers [Picture: Sowetan]

Lebombo border post has been closed until further notice Friday17 April 2015 after an unruly mob barricaded the N4 near Ressano Garcia, targeting trucks with South African registration numbers. [Picture: Sowetan]

The border post between South Africa and Mozambique has been closed until further notice Friday after an unruly mob barricaded the N4 near Ressano Garcia, targeting trucks with South African registration numbers.

This also came just as immigration officials from Mozambique early in the morning began the blocking of all vehicles coming from South Africa under unexplained circumstances. Witnesses told ZimEye.com the situation at the border is both shocking and desperate with drivers voicing their frustration at the hands of Mozambican border officials.

Lebombo border post has been closed until further notice Friday17 April 2015 after an unruly mob barricaded the N4 near Ressano Garcia, targeting trucks with South African registration numbers..

“Trucks with South African registration plates have been stoned in Mozambique. A volatile crowd of about 200 Mozambicans has barricaded the N4 about four kilometres east of the Resano Garcia border post, where there is a truck stop,” reported Corridor Gazette on Friday.

“It is suspected that this action in related to the Xenophobic attacks which have erupted in various areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week.”

Trac, a company which is responsible for the 570km of the road between Solomon Mahlangu off-ramp in Tshwane and the Port of Maputo in Mozambique, placed a warning on the protest action on its website.

A traveller who en route to Nelspruit from Maputo at around 9:30 on Friday morning told the website that: “The crowd let us pass because we had a Mozambican-registered car.

robertmugabejacobzuma2015govtza_SnapseedSouth Africa and Zimbabwe have elevated bilateral relations with the signing of five agreements set to benefit both countries. The agreements were signed on Wednesday during President Robert Mugabe’s state visit to South Africa at the invitation of President Jacob Zuma. An agreement regarding mutual assistance between customs administrations between the two countries was also signed, which will further cooperation towards the establishment of a one-stop border post. This is viewed as a crucial milestone.

Zimbabwe-flagZimbabwe has introduced custom-control measures aimed at reducing the inflow of smuggled and inferior goods, and boosting its revenue from customs duty. Goods being exported to Zimbabwe will have to undergo consignment verification from May 16.

The government’s customs officials are also tightening up inspections at the Beitbridge border post to stem the flow of cheap, illegal goods, which Zimbabwean companies blame for their financial woes.

Executive chairman of the European Union Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Africa Stefan Sakoschek said on Thursday that “the general idea is for Zimbabwe to protect its borders from substandard goods, as well as from undervaluation”.

Mr Sakoschek said the consignment-based conformity assessment programme fell within the framework of the World Trade Organisation’s technical barriers to trade as well as the regulations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Exporters and clearing agents have been informed of the new consignment verification measures, which will ensure conformity to standards and the value of goods declared. A certificate will be issued for the consignments for presentation to customs officials on arrival in Zimbabwe. Goods without a certificate will be refused entry.

Targeted products include food and agricultural goods, building and civil engineering products, timber and timber products, petroleum and fuel, packaging materials, electrical and electronic appliances, body care products, automotive and transportation goods, clothing and textiles, engineering equipment, mechanical appliances and toys.

Trade Law Chambers director Rian Geldenhuys said the pre-shipment verification process would entail additional costs but should not contribute to further delays in shipment. Consignment verification was widely practised especially in developing countries as a way to ensure the collection of customs duty revenue, Mr Geldenhuys said.

“Underinvoicing is a huge problem throughout the world, especially least developed and developing countries which Zimbabwe is one of,” he said.

Trade Law Centre researcher Willemien Viljoen also said the assessments would entail additional costs. Much of the effect would depend on how the conformity assessments were implemented and the standards that would be applied, Ms Viljoen said.

The Zimbabwean government has appointed well-recognised French company Bureau Veritas as the conformity assessment company for verification purposes, and has given the assurance that “compliant exporters will be able to benefit from fast-track procedures reducing systematic intervention on their frequent exports to Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwean Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha was quoted by the Zimbabwean press as saying that Zimbabwe was being “flooded with sub-standard imports which do not meet quality, safety, health and environmental standards”.

These goods had a negative effect on the country’s economic development and the competitiveness of its industries, Mr Bimha said.

In terms of its four-year agreement with Bureau Veritas the Zimbabwean government will receive monthly royalty fees equivalent to 5% of all monies received for its services. This arrangement will eventually lapse when the Zimbabwe Standards Regulatory Authority is established to monitor and control imports, exports and local goods to ensure compliance with quality, health, safety and environmental standards. Bureau Veritas operates in 140 countries and offers pre-shipment services to SA, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire. Source: BDLive (Reporter: Linda Ensor)

Read also the following articles, published in Zimbabwean Situation – Govt moves to tighten border controls (September 2014) as well as Zim mulls one-stop border post (November 2014) which might suggest that entry arrival procedures at Zimbabwean ports of entry may not be that expeditious given a prominent focus on revenue collection.

international-trade1The role of the private sector in the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) will be the focus of the 2015 edition of the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade (GFP) meeting. With the world’s customs administrations currently identifying their respective TFA  implementation commitments and setting up National Trade Facilitation Committees, trade and logistics operators can learn how they can participate in such initiatives by attending these sessions.

The GFP meeting will be held at Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 22 April, and will be divided into three thematic sessions.

The first session, ‘Governments’ Priorities: Strategies for Fostering Private Sector Participation in the TFA Implementation Process’ will look at how governments are planning to implement the TFA.

It will focus on how the private sector is consulted and how an effective participation of the private sector can be facilitated to implement the Agreement.

The second session, ‘Priorities, Perspectives, and Expectations from the Private Sector on TFA Implementation’ will assess how the private sector – including large corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises – view TFA implementation. It will look at the potential benefits from a private-sector perspective, and how the sector can contribute to national and international initiatives to implement the agreement.

The third session, ‘International Organizations’ Co-ordination and Partnership for Supporting TFA Implementation’, will provide an opportunity to share information and experiences on how the TFA can be implemented with public-private partnerships in mind, as how national trade facilitation committees can better support this process.

ITC invites all interested stakeholders to join the GFP meeting at the Palais des Nations on 22 April from 9:00. Click here for link to online registration.

Source: International Trade Centre (Geneva)