Following my previous post on ’empty container depots’, its time to dispel a long time myth basically perpetuated to safeguard the cargo handler’s imagined responsibility that goods delivered to be packed for export must be first cleared through Customs. There is no current law, rule or policy which supports this notion, and neither is there any liability on stuffers, consolidators, container depot, transit shed operators, empty container depot operators to ensure that goods they receive under instruction to pack for export have been pre-cleared with Customs.
Let’s first consider what a Customs export declaration implies. Generally, a declaration for export is lodged with Customs subsequent to the conclusion of a sales agreement between a local supplier and a foreign buyer via the commercial bank. The forwarding agent will arrange foreign shipment with a carrier, obtain commercial documents (pro forma invoice, required regulatory permits/certificates, etc.) and prepare a declaration for submission to Customs on behalf of the exporter.
The acceptance, by Customs, of an export declaration is no more than a formal notification of an exporter’s intention to export – nothing more. It is therefore untrue that an ‘approval to export’ or ‘release for export’ notification is the last word from Customs. Moreover, it is also incorrect to reason that Customs has no right to intervene in a ‘transaction’ subsequent to clearance. In essence the notion of an export ‘consignment’ only materialises once the goods are packed, sealed and ready for delivery to the point of international cartage ; or, more accurately, when the ‘secured goods’ are reported for delivery to the place/port of export. Only at this point can risk be evaluated in all its dimensions and a final decision by Customs (load/no-load) be pronounced.
The advent of advance information, post 9/11 and subsequent proliferation of ‘secure export’ initiatives means that ‘risk’ in relation to international cargo movements encompasses three key areas – information, conveyance and cargo. To merely accept whats declared on the export is insufficient for Customs. Other potential risks involving a multitude of people with a lesser liability, little appreciation for accuracy, and little or no sensitivity towards the safety and security of goods in their custody may compromise the ‘compliant’ intent of the exporter and clearance broker at time of initial customs clearance.
It is therefore plain to see why SARS Customs is modernising not only its procedures and systems, but also its enabling legislation. A new export clearance and cargo reporting dispensation is envisaged, to be accompanied by the licensing of cargo handlers and their premises and the implementation of a seal integrity programme.
- Empty container depots adding to industry’s costs? (mpoverello.wordpress.com)