For more information about Co-ordinated Border Management visit the WCO website.

Buyer-sellerCurrent plans to identify ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ before vessel loading could lead to disclosure of sensitive business information, claim carrier, forwarder and cargo-owner representatives, according to the World Shipping Council (WSC).

Latest European Commission amendments to the EU advance cargo data reporting requirements scheduled for adoption later this year need further clarification. The WSC along with shipper and forwarder representatives is opposing the Commission’s proposals in their current form.

The Commission is now in the final stages of completing its proposals for advance cargo data reporting requirements as part of the implementation of the new Union Customs Code which is scheduled to be adopted in May and could then take effect as early as May 1, 2016. But the WSC claims that the Commission’s efforts to find a short-cut way of obtaining the identity of the ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ of the imported goods before vessel loading could lead to the disclosure of sensitive business information.

Instead of getting it from the importer, like the US does, the Commission has proposed regulation that would require this information be provided to the carrier or NVOCC, or in the alternative, to the ‘consignee’, to be filed in an ENS (entry summary declaration) as a condition of vessel loading.

Based on their understanding and experience with shippers, the WSC has advised the Commission that ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ data may be business-confidential information, and that it is not appropriate to require its disclosure to ocean carriers/NVOCCs or to these parties’ consignees, who may not be parties to the goods’ sales contract.

The WSC also noted that carriers’ current documentation systems had no data fields to capture this information. The Council has been joined by the European Shippers’ Council, the European freight forwarders’ association (CLECAT) and the European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) in opposing the Commission’s proposals.

If the regulation is implemented as proposed, exporters to the EU should recognize that they will be required to provide the identity of the buyers of their goods to their carrier or NVOCC or to their consignees prior to vessel loading, so that this information could be provided by the carrier or NVOCC in its required advance ENS filing. Source: LloydsLoading

For more detailed information in this regard refer to the World Shipping Council’s website – Advance Cargo Shipment Data

Port of Shanghai, China [Picture: DaliyMail.co.uk]

Port of Shanghai, China [Picture: DaliyMail.co.uk]

Shanghai retained its title as the world’s busiest container port for a fifth consecutive year after widening the gap with its closest rival Singapore.

Singapore handled 33.9 million 20-foot containers last year, according to a statement posted on the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore’s website dated Jan. 16. Last month, Shanghai said it expects to process about 35.2 million boxes in 2014. A year before, the gap between the two ports was about 1 million boxes.

Shanghai, Shenzhen and other ports in China are dominating the global container-shipping market while the facility in Ningbo overtook South Korea’s Busan last year as the world’s fifth-busiest harbor. Seven of the world’s 10 top container ports were in China in 2013, with Hong Kong coming in fourth.

Shipping companies are adding larger container ships to meet demand as economic growth helped consumers to spend more money on clothes and food. Global trade last year probably grew 3.8 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Global containerized trade reached 124 million boxes in the first 11 months of 2014, an increase of 4.3 percent from 118.9 million a year ago, according to Container Trade Statistics Ltd.

Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest container shipping company, currently operates the biggest vessel that can carry 19,224 boxes between Asia and Europe. Last year, China Shipping Container Lines Co. launched a ship that could carry about 19,100 containers. Source: Bloomberg/GCaptain

High quality 3D render shipping container during transportIn a bid to tackle overweight containers at its ports, Vietnam is seeking to address this issue with domestic legislation on container weighing practices. This is in contrast to the International Maritime Organisation, which had agreed on an amended rule that would see shipping containers being weighed before they are loaded onto ships – a rule which will come into effect in 2016.

Weighbridges have since been installed at Vietnamese ports, container yards and even highways to monitor weights of containers for both importing and exporting. A new law was endorsed in 2014 by the Vietnamese government that limited the total weight of 20 and 40ft containers to a maximum of 20 tonnes, including the weight of the container itself.

Containers found to violate the weight limits are likely to incur a fine. Source: Port Technology International

KentradeThe Kenya Trade Network Agency, operator of the National Electronic Single Window System, has refuted claims by some clearing agents that the platform is lapsing. KenTrade has instead blamed slow integration of its system on the continued parallel use of the Kenya Revenue Authority’s systems – the Orbus and Simba. Currently, importers are using both systems to process documents such as import permits.

Project director Amos Wangora said there is need to retire Orbus system for agents to embrace the Single Window System, particularly in filing Import Declaration Forms. Kentrade accused KRA officials of avoiding the Single Window System.

“We don’t have any problem in the use of the Single Window System. It’s only people who don’t want to embrace the new system. Those using it are doing good only for some KRA officials who still want to use the Orbus system,” said Wangora in an interview on Friday.

KenTrade is the state agency tasked with facilitating cross-border trade through the Single Window System.

Wangora said only three modules remain for the Single Window System to be completed fully – include on declaration submission, bonds and exemption. Testing of the declaration submission module is on and is expected to be completed by 20 January 2015.

A section of clearing agents had raised concerns over delays in cargo clearance at the port of Mombasa under the Single Window System. Yesterday, the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, Mombasa chapter, said KRA officials prefer their own system, which “lacks transparency”.

A clearing agent told the Star that one has to personally push for services, which involves handouts, under the KRA system. Kentrade has since written to KRA commissioner-general to halt the Orbus system on January 31.

The Single Window System integrates about 24 government agencies’ functions, offering a one-stop shop for processing import and export permit documents.  More than 6,000 imports and exports permits were issued under the new system last year, including permits from Kenya Bureau of Standards and Ministry of Health’s veterinary and pharmaceutical departments.

About 1,200 clearing agents, shipping agents, consolidators and partner government agencies will be trained on the remaining modules. Kentrade targets to have the system fully embraced by all stakeholders by July, with the country set to go paperless by 2015. Source: The Star (Kenya)

141212174829-yixinou-worlds-longest-train-journey-horizontal-large-galleryThe longest rail link in the world and the first direct link between China and Spain is up and running after a train from Yiwu in coastal China completed its maiden journey of 8,111 miles to Madrid. En route it passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving at the Abroñigal freight terminal in Madrid.

The railway has been dubbed the “21st-century Silk Road” by Li Qiang, the governor of Zhejiang province, where Yiwu is located. Its route is longer than the Trans-Siberian railway and the Orient Express. The first train was met by the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, and Spain’s minister of public works, Ana Pastor. It consisted of 30 containers carrying 1,400 tonnes of cargo – mostly toys, stationery and other items for sale over Christmas across Europe.

Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale hub for small consumer goods and plays host to a vast 4 sq km (1.5 sq mile) market where tens of thousands of traders work daily. The journey was a test run to assess the viability of adding Spain to a route that already links China with Germany five times a week. Those trains link Chongqing, the huge industrial city in south-west China, with Duisburg, and Beijing with Hamburg.

China is Spain’s biggest trading partner after the EU, with bilateral trade worth around £16bn. It is also Spain’s third largest source of imports, after Germany and France. About half of these imports are made up of mobile phones and clothing. The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, was in China in September, where he signed deals reported to be worth more than £6.3bn.

A major advantage of the rail route is speed. The train took just three weeks to complete a journey that takes up to six weeks by sea. It is also more environmentally friendly than road transport, which would produce 114 tonnes of CO2 to shift the same volume of goods, compared with the 44 tonnes produced by the train – a 62% reduction.

However, the cargo had to be transferred three times during the journey as a result of incompatible rail gauges. The locomotive also had to be changed every 500 miles. The service is being operated by InterRail Services and DB Schenker Rail and in Spain by DB’s Spanish offshoot, Tranfesa.

chinas-second-continent-howard-frenchFormer US Diplomat Brooks Spector takes a look at this important book (Daily Maverick) that should be on every economic policy maker’s reading list. Howard French’s China’s Second Continent, offers a very different – and provocative – perspective on China’s economic future, with special attention on Africa. Building on years of experience in both China and Africa, and following months of personal inquiry across the continent to search for answers to the questions of what China really wants in Africa, and how it is going to get there, French has effectively turned these questions on their head.

Instead of writing about China’s international economic policies in the language of the think tanks, of Wall Street and The City, or government councils in Whitehall or Washington, French has focused instead on what a million individual Chinese have done – or are now doing – throughout Africa, almost without regard to what the Chinese government may have planned or been thinking. In tackling the topic through this optic, French has given this vast Chinese movement into and across Africa crucial human dimensions. For the full review please visit this hyperlink. China’s Second Continent is available in hardcopy and electronic publication from online book stores. Source: Daily Maverick

Officers of Weihai Customs House (affiliated to Qingdao Customs District) remained at their posts and inspected the goods as heavy snow hits the Shandong Province in December 2014. During the two days of heavy snow, officers of Weihai Customs House had worked over time and to exercise control over ‘stopped’ consignments. Source: General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China

CSCL GlobeThe world’s largest container ship has arrived in the UK for the first time at the Port of Felixstowe. The Hong Kong-registered CSCL Globe, measuring more than 400m (1,313ft) in length is longer than four football fields placed end-to-end.

The record-breaking aspect of the Globe, owned by Shanghai-based China Shipping Container Lines and built-in South Korea, is its capacity. It can carry 19,100 standard 20ft containers. That’s estimated to be enough space for 156 million pairs of shoes, 300 million tablet computers or 900 million standard tins of baked beans.

Laid end-to-end, the maximum number of containers on board would stretch for 72 miles, the distance between Felixstowe and London, or Birmingham and Manchester.

The Globe’s period as the world’s biggest cargo ship is due to end later this month, however. The Oscar, owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company and built by Daewoo in South Korea, is scheduled for its official launch on Thursday. Named after company president Diego Aponte’s son Oscar, it will be able to carry 19,224 20ft containers. Source: BBC News

WTO TFA implications for LLDCBackground

The Almaty Programme of Action (APoA): Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries was adopted in 2003 as a response to the growing recognition by the international community of the special needs and challenges faced by the LLDCs. The Programme of Action emphasised five priority policy areas that landlocked and transit countries need to address to resolve the access problems of LLDCs: Transit policy and regulatory frameworks; Infrastructure development; International trade and trade facilitation; International support measures, and Implementation and review.

As one of the priority areas of the APoA, international trade and trade facilitation (streamlining customs and other border procedures) has taken on renewed focus, especially in light of the WTO Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, at which WTO members reached consensus on a Trade Facilitation Agreement, as part of the wider ‘Bali package’. As the end of the first ten years of the APoA is drawing to a close, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to hold a comprehensive Ten-Year Review Conference of the APoA in 2014.

WCO TFA and Landlocked Countries

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement sets out commitments that promote clear rules and procedures, many of which are of particular interest to LLDCs. The three most important provisions for LLDCs are Articles 11, 10,and 8. The first one deals specifically with freedom of transit, the second sets out obligations in relation to trade procedures including transit, and the third requires WTO members to cooperate with other members with which they share a common border.

Other TFA provisions of interest to the LLDCs include Articles 1-5 which addresses Publication and Transparency, including the availability of information; Article 2 which provides specific guidance on Consultations before Entry into Force; Article 6, which sets out Disciplines on Fees and Charges imposed on or in Connection with Import and Export and Article 7 which provides rules on Release and Clearance of Goods, including Trade Facilitation Measures for Authorised Operators. In the new Agreement, the obligations take three forms: Binding, Best Endeavour, or a Combination of both.

The TFA presents an opportunity for LLDCs to upgrade their systems, infrastructure and procedures as the Agreement encourages national trade facilitation improvements. Policymakers should therefore ensure that trade facilitation is included in national development plans given the cross cutting nature of trade facilitation. Using this approach, LLDCs will increase their ability to access resources tied to different funding windows, for example, assistance for general trade policy and regulations.

There are 16 Landlocked countries in Africa, which signifies the importance of the WTO TFA and its consequential impact on regional trade groupings.

The WTO TFA is an innovative agreement as it will provide capacity building to developing countries to allow them to undertake the implementation of the agreement where necessary. The Agreement addresses concerns about the implementation costs and capacity building constraints in developing and least developed countries that would be required to implement these rules. The Agreement allows each LLDC to design its TFA implementation plan and choose a timetable of compliance in accordance with its needs, capabilities and confirmed funding and technical assistance from development partners. Further, guidance is provided to WTO members on the domestic institutional arrangements that should be established to maximise the resources to be made available by donors, as well as the structures and systems that should be adhered to at the WTO Secretariat itself to ensure that the process of accessing TFA implementation support is transparent and inclusive.

It is essential to note that the Agreement specifies a strict national approach to implementation and makes no provision to resolve the issues which are closest to LLDCs interests, such as regional economic corridors, which fall outside the purview of the WTO’s multilateral disciplines. Despite this shortcoming, LLDCs will benefit from deepening their links and their involvement in fora supported by the development banks and bilateral agencies which fund these regional programmes. This will ensure that their interests are adequately reflected in the design of development plans for regional infrastructure improvements, regulatory reforms, technical assistance and capacity building.

Although the language of the TFA is legally binding in relation to some key aspects of freedom of transit, it has one important proviso. If an LLDC developing country neighbour denotes freedom of transit as a Category C obligation, it will only become justiciable and fully legally binding after the expiration of the transition date determined by that country and the delivery of suitable technical assistance by donors. Against this background, an optimal outcome for LLDCs would be that as many transit countries as possible register freedom of transit as a Category A obligation, as this would come into force immediately.

Read the full preparatory report on the Implications of the WTO ATF on Landlocked Developing Countries, available on the United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries website.

Related articles

WCO IRISOpen sources, such as the Internet, include a considerable amount of useful information for Customs purposes. For instance, such information can benefit Customs risk management through improved analysis and by enabling sounder decisions to be made on the basis of solid information, thereby providing decision-makers with better situational awareness.

The exploitation of this vast repository of data has become easier and markets are full of different tools that allow Customs officers to keep track of issues that impact on their daily work. Although many WCO Members already use such tools at the national level, no international tool exists that collects all this Customs related information together and makes it available in one location.

To fill this void, WCO Secretary General announced the launch of the Iris application during the Policy Commission meeting in Brazil on 8 December. Iris is a new and innovative tool which acts as an “aggregator” for all types of open source Customs information, and as such falls within the framework of the of theme of the year 2014, “Communication”.

The application utilizes Web-crawlers to search the Internet for news items and presents this information in a graphic-style world map in real-time. The system also allows for the storing of the “hits” on a specific database where they will be available for intelligence experts and other operational front-line Customs staff for further analysis.

Iris also allows the WCO to push out information about major Customs seizures which have been reported to the WCO Customs Enforcement Network (CEN) database or to the Global Shield application (seizure information itself will not be reported, but a notice about a seizure will be displayed).

“Iris is a ground-breaking initiative and will allow the WCO, for the first time, to monitor open source information on a 24/7/365 basis and to provide its Members with enhanced intelligence support”, declared Secretary General Mikuriya.

“The application also promotes CEN and Global Shield application and we hope it will encourage Members to increasingly report their seizures to both of these existing enforcement tools”, he added.

All WCO Members, Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs), and WCO staff will benefit from Iris. Its benefits extend beyond these specific user groups, as the application is aimed at a broader audience. Some of the Iris functionality will be made available to WCO’s private sector partners, the academic community, and the public.

Iris works in all different types of devices including smart phones and tablets. The system is hosted at https://iris.wcoomd.org and can also be accessed through the WCO’s website. Source: WCO

Mozambique: Maputo, Mozambique Revenue Authority, Customs Division, Risk Management Unit

Mozambique: Maputo, Mozambique Revenue Authority, Customs Division, Risk Management Unit

In December 2014 a WCO Capacity Building support mission was undertaken to Mozambique. The mission was the fourth in a series of inputs as part of the Project for “Customs Capacity Building for WCO Members 2012-15″ which is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The aim of the project is to deliver technical assistance to seven countries in specific areas of Customs operations. As one of the countries participating in the project the assistance provided to Mozambique has been designed to strengthen their capacity in the areas of Risk Management and Human Resources/Training Policy Management.

The mission commenced with a meeting between the WCO delegation and Mr. Guilherme Mambo Director General, Customs. Progress with the project was discussed and specific plans for the introduction of new risk management procedures.

The mission focused on the delivery of a high-level strategic Risk Management workshop. The workshop was designed to support the implementation of a new Risk Management Framework and was attended by several members of the MRA Senior Management Team.

Together with the workshop, the WCO experts also conducted a Risk Management organizational review and prepared a report summarizing key findings and recommendations. Work also continued on supporting the MRA with the development of their new Strategic Plan and specifically with a review of existing risk profiles to ensure that they are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

The opportunity was taken to also discuss establishing procedures for access to the WCO e-learning modules so that the MRA can make best use of the wide range of training modules that are available for their use, particularly in the areas of Risk Management, CBM, PCA and the Revised Kyoto Convention. Source and picture: WCO

The MV Amaranthus moored on the west coast of Zakynthos. [Photo: Hellenic Coast Guard]

The MV Amaranthus moored on the west coast of Zakynthos. [Photo: Hellenic Coast Guard]

Authorities in Greece are trying to piece together the source of a large quantity of smuggled cigarettes found onboard an abandoned ship at the Greek island of Zakynthos.

The Hellenic Coast Guard reports that the local Port Authority found a large amount of contraband cigarettes in the cargo hold of the Palau-flagged MV Amaranthus while moored along the west coast of Ionian Sea island. No crew were onboard the ship at the time.

The ship is scheduled to be taken to the port of Zakynthos where the cigarettes will be confiscated by Border and Customs officials as investigators try to determine the owner of the ship and source of cigarettes.

The initial inspection of the ship was part of crackdown on organized crime particularly targeted towards cigarette smuggling. Source: GCaptain.com

Revenue officials unload the Shingle at Dublin Port after 32 million cigarettes were seized [Picture: Irish Mirror]

Revenue officials unload the Shingle at Dublin Port after 32 million cigarettes were seized [Picture: Irish Mirror]

Customs officers have scored a major victory in the battle against smugglers after seizing 50 million cigarettes in 10 months.

The Irish Mirror reports Revenue officers made 5,025 separate swoops between January and the end of October.

They also impounded 9,560kgs of tobacco in 867 operations.

The record haul makes 2014 one of the most successful to date in the war on counterfeit tobacco.

While these smuggled cigarettes would have cost the Exchequer tens of millions of euro they’re also more dangerous for smokers’ health.

And with the huge crackdown, Customs officers will be keeping up the pressure in 2015 to stub out the tobacco black market.

A Revenue spokeswoman told the Irish Mirror: “To the end of October, more than 50 million cigarettes were seized in 5,025 separate seizures while 9,560 kilogrammes of tobacco were seized in 867 seizures.

“This includes a major seizure in Drogheda in June in which officers, supported by An Garda Siochana, seized more than 32 million cigarettes and 4,500kg of water pipe tobacco.

“Combatting the illegal tobacco trade is, and will continue to be, a high priority for Revenue.

“Our work against this illegal activity includes a range of measures designed to identify and target those engaged in the supply or sale of illicit products, with a view to seizing them and prosecuting those responsible.”

Customs officials use tactics including risk analysis, profiling, intelligence and screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages.

They also carry out random checks at retail outlets, markets and commercial shops.

The spokeswoman said: “This includes analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis.

“It also includes use of analytics and detection technologies and ensures optimum deployment of resources at points of importation.

“Revenue co-operates extensively with An Garda Siochana in combating the illicit trade, and relevant agencies in the State also work closely with their counterparts in the North, through a cross-border group on tobacco enforcement, to target organised crime groups responsible for a large proportion of the illegal tobacco market.

“In addition, cooperation takes place with other revenue administrations and with the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, in the on-going programmes at international level.”

Last week, Last week, routine profiling helped customs officers seize 600,000 cigarettes at Dublin Port with a retail value of €304,000. Source: Irish Mirror

LAPSSETKenya’s high court on Friday ordered a halt to the long-delayed development of a mega-port on the country’s northern coast for at least two weeks to allow a lawsuit lodged by local landowners over compensation to move forward.

The $25.5 billion project, known as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project, would eventually link landlocked countries South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean via Kenya and include a port, new roads, a railway and a pipeline.

The LAPSSET project involves the development of a new transport corridor from the new port of Lamu through Garissa, Isiolo, Mararal, Lodwar and Lokichoggio to branch at Isiolo to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. It will comprise of a new road network, a railway line, oil refinery at Lamu, oil pipeline, Isiolo and Lamu Airports and a free port at Lamu (Manda Bay) in addition to resort cities at the coast and in Isiolo. It will be the backbone for opening up Northern Kenya and integrating it into the national economy.

It was first conceived in the 1970s but has been gaining traction after commercial oil finds in Uganda and Kenya.

Judge Oscar Angote suspended the project and said the land compensation case would be heard on 8 December 2014. Source: Maritime Executive