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)

Ivory Coast SEW2As Customs and Border regulatory authorities ramp up their commitment to international agreements, such as the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention, SAFE Framework of Standards and the more recent WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, more countries will offer a single point of entry through which traders, international carriers and logistics providers can access and comply with the resident customs and other government regulatory regimes.

The concept of a Single Window is borne out of the fact that traditional import/export and related regulatory requirements pose a barrier to market entry for international goods. There are many derivatives of Single Window in operation globally. Perhaps the best resource for this can be found on the UNECE’s interactive Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide webpage. One can navigate to the case studies page to read up on a country-by-country experience on various trade reforms including Single Window developments.

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is one of many African countries who have introduced Single Window as a facilitation measure whereby international trade can interface with Customs in a number of ways. It consists of a web-based trade portal (operated by Webb Fontaine) which interfaces with AsycudaWorld (AW), Côte d’Ivoire Customs’ management system. The portal allows traders to key-in advance import/export information within an electronic document called TVF (Trade Virtual Folder). Customs declarations are then subjected to tariff classification  and valuation, thereafter routed for commercial/risk assessment and revenue accounting on AsycudaWorld, or Sydam World as it is known in Côte d’Ivoire.

Commercial banks use the TVF within the Single Window to endorse the settlement of each import; the Ministry of Commerce subsequently authorizes the overall transaction through the system.

The Single Window provides an entry point for traders and supply chain operators to accomplish various Customs formalities such as –

  • Customs Declaration processing – allowing importers and exporters to electronically file clearances.
  • Manifest operations – used by all carriers to upload their XML manifests and register the same through the trade portal directly into AsycudaWorld. The facility also allows the amendments of waybills (e.g. excess and shortages) and automatically synchronizes the operations with the AW system. The Port Authority IT systems, including the Port of Abidjan and the Port of San Pedro, automatically receive and integrate the manifests submitted by carriers.
  • License module – allows traders to request import/export licenses (regulatory permits) that are later on approved online by the relevant ministries. Each license comprises a list of regulated products, quota allowable amount based on a predefined scheme (gross mass, net mass, FOB, Unit of measurement or unlimited quota). Further developments will include the automatic write-off of license quota by declarations using the Declaration module.

Source: Webb Fontaine

cocaineDubai customs arrested a woman who was trying to smuggle 2.3 kilograms cocaine in her shorts at Dubai International Airport. Customs officers stopped the 31-year-old South African passenger when she arrived at the airport’s transit terminal.

One of the officers suspected the woman passenger and took her inside a private search room as she seemed perplexed. She was reportedly found to be smuggling 16 pouches of cocaine that were secretly stitched inside her mini-shorts.

The Dubai Court of First Instance convicted the South African of smuggling cocaine in transit and jailed her for 10 years. When she appeared in court, the defendant admitted that she smuggled the substance in her clothes but maintained that she did not know that she carried a banned substance.

She confessed that she agreed to carry the substance for money [the amount was not specified] but did not realize that she was carrying cocaine. The passenger claimed in court that she had intended to take the substance to her homeland and not to Dubai. The court fined her Dh50,000 (US$13, 000) and will be deported after serving her punishment. The defendant was cited confessing to prosecutors that she smuggled the drugs via Dubai in transit. Source: customstoday.com.pk

goldZimbabwean Customs (ZIMRA) seized 48 kg illicit gold worth R 20 million and arrested 46 people for initial investigations. Forged gold serial-number stamps, specially designed armoured vehicles, clandestine refineries, fake customs clearance papers and documents with links to the black market.

These and other pieces of evidence are the keys that the Hawks believe link a Zimbabwean and South African gold-smuggling syndicate to scores of buyers in Europe masquerading as dealers in precious metals. For two years police have been zeroing in on the syndicate, whose roots are in illegal gold mining in Zimbabwe. Inside were 48kg of gold bars valued at R20-million.On Friday, they acted. In the early hours teams from the Hawks, the Special Task Force and Crime Intelligence raided luxury homes and farms across Gauteng and the North West.

In one of the raids police discovered a walk-in vault at a warehouse outside OR Tambo International Airport. Inside were 48kg of gold bars valued at R20-million. They were being prepared for stamping with official South African gold serial numbers designating that the metal had been officially mined and refined in the country. Police sources say the gold was to have been flown to at least three European countries at the weekend before being smelted, re-refined and distributed.

A source with knowledge of the investigation has revealed the inner workings of the syndicate, from how and where the gold is mined to how corrupt customs and mining officials facilitate the metal’s passage across borders.(Now should’nt this prompt some serious cause for concern, if true?)

“The amount this syndicate has handled is immeasurable. We have known about them for two years and in that short time we have recovered R40-million,” he said.

“They have operated both in South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as other SADC [Southern African Development Community] countries for years, well before we even discovered them”

Illegal miners in Zimbabwe supplied the syndicate. “With the instability and corruption there [South Africa?] it’s dangerous but easy. Once they have the gold, runners take it to the border where, through corrupt officials, it is smuggled across disguised as things such as household products.”

The gold was taken to farms in and around Modimolle in Limpopo where illicit refineries smelted and refined it, the source said. With the help of South African mining officials, gold clearance documentation and special serial and insignia stamps were sourced.

“Once stamped you would never know the difference. We have placed it next to legitimate bars and it looks and feels the same.” He said the gold was distributed through legitimate channels in Europe.

“Those running the syndicate know what they are doing. They are well-connected and influential businessmen with ties to Africa, Europe, the US and Asia”.

“They are linked to the gold powerhouses of the world. These are not ‘mickey-mouse’ people. They are immensely powerful and extremely well connected to some of the world’s top legal firms. Within hours of Friday’s raids lawyers were arriving at their clients’ homes and businesses.”

He said police seized hundreds of official gold clearance documents, serial stamps and other paperwork with links to mines and importers and exporters. Source and picture: CustomsToday.com