CUSTOMS Info – New Regulatory Screening Data

cigdm_newlogoCUSTOMS Info (Ci) now offers import regulations by HTS code for 220 countries. This data will help Trade Professionals to screen items shipped across borders for importation restrictions and requirements from each country.

This data can be used for automating red flags by HS code. Once a flag is obtained, users may research the regulations under the GistNet tab in CUSTOMS Info’s subscription site or on their own. “We are excited about this new data set because it is new and bound to get more detailed,” Ron Lackey, President of CUSTOMS Info.

For a sample file of this data that includes Chapters 28 & 38 of the Harmonized Schedule, visit: (You will find South African customs regulatory reference detail here as well)

Ci provides the world’s most comprehensive trade data repository delivered via web-based subscription, API web services or as data to populate any GTM or Landed Cost application. Ci is the largest provider of duty and tax content for international e-commerce with hundreds of e-commerce sites utilizing our data to provide accurate landed cost information.


New screening system to stop Customs queues at Mumbai airport

India customs_SnapseedIn a bid to make security checks less frazzling for international fliers after their arrival in the city, the Mumbai airport Customs have adopted an advanced in-line screening system to avoid inconveniencing commuters in the green channel. Installed two weeks ago, the system will also help improve screening procedure.

Earlier, every single item of luggage was screened at the Customs exit points, which led to long queues where passengers had to wait for hours before they could exit. With the new advanced screening system installed at the starting point of conveyor belts, the luggage will be screened before it is put on the belt from where the passenger picks it up and walks through the green channel.

“Earlier, there used to be a huge queue at the Customs checkpoints as each and every bag was screened there, and if anything was found to be suspicious, the screening for the following bags was stalled, putting other passengers on hold. With the new system, a foolproof screening would be done before the baggage makes it to the conveyor belt,” said a Mumbai airport Customs official, on the condition of anonymity.

“During screening, if any suspicious or undeclared items are found, the baggage would be marked and put on the conveyor belt. The Customs officer inspecting the luggage would pick it up to ensure that duty fine is imposed or appropriate action is taken,” the official said.

Apart from this, the new system would also be able to screen items concealed in packing, which were not detected by the earlier system and needed a manual check.

Officials further revealed that the Customs department is expecting ISO certification, one of the reasons why the new system was adopted. Apart from this, the Customs have also appointed a nodal agency to take feedback from passengers about the new system. Additional Commissioner Mahendra Pal (Air Intelligence Unit), Mumbai airport Customs, said, “We have adopted a new system which would reduce passenger inconvenience and help make screening better.” Source:

Nigeria – Customs Ready (or not) for Destination Inspection Role

Nigeran flagTrade House of Representative Committee on Customs, has expressed satisfaction with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) preparedness to take charge of the destination inspection scheme at the expiration of the six months extension granted the Service Providers by the government. Chairman of the committee, Hon. Sabo Nakudu, who disclosed this during the tour to access the performance of service providers, commended the scanners provided by the service providers as part of the contract with the federal government.

Nakudu, however frowned at the Risk Assessment Report (RAR), issued by the service providers which he said is plagued with so much controversies. He noted that the basic reason for the tour, was to confirm the preparedness of the Customs to take over and to ensure that what the service provider delivered, are as expected. According to him, “In most cases, there are instances whereby this risk assessment report are duplicated or un-utilized and instances where a particular consignment being issued with different amount.

“Agencies found (to be involved) in this regard by the committee will be probed to ensure that refund is made to the federal government on the percentages gotten from the RAR duplication.” He warned.

Nakudu maintained that the service is ready and capable of taking over the scheme from the service providers at the expiration of the extension at the end of the six months period. In his words, ” I am convinced that the Customs are trained and as you can see, the scanners are in order, but our major problem is the area of the risk assessment report, because that is where the revenue comes in from.

He also, frowned at the services of connectivity to Web Fontaine, which powers the Automated System of Customs Data (ASYCUDA), over deficiencies in its service delivery, saying that, government pays the firm $6 million monthly, without any commensurate investment and efficiency to show for it.

The committee however toured the scanning operations site in the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port Complex, and also inspected Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL) and Global Scan Systems facilities respectively. Source:

I think Nigeria has made a bold (and correct) decision to adopt responsibility for control over its mandate. Many service providers will disagree as do many of the global audit firms who believe that the field of Customs Audit (including AEO) is best outsourced to their domain. It just shows that when business opportunity in the commercial (private sector) domain is not as easy to come by how the focus turns on what public domain opportunity lies in wake for them. The more service providers/consultants in government, the more consultants are needed to oversee what the original ones are doing! This is the sad situation in South Africa at the moment.

Transgenic tobacco – an inexpensive cure for rabies?

New research has found that tobacco plants can be genetically modified to produce antibodies against the rabies virus. (Source -

New research has found that tobacco plants can be genetically modified to produce antibodies against the rabies virus. (Source –

We are familiar with the tobacco plant being harvested to create products that damage our health, but a new study from the Hotung Molecular Immunology Unit at St George’s University in London has shown that tobacco plants can be genetically modified to produce rabies antibodies. It’s hoped that the research will deliver a safe, inexpensive way of treating rabies in developing countries.

If untreated, rabies can infect the central nervous system and lead to death. According to the World Health Organization, rabies occurs in more than 150 countries and territories around the world, killing 55,000 people every year, mostly in Asia and Africa. Treating it with human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) is expensive, a factor which the St George’s researchers believe can be addressed using this new approach.

The new study involved “humanizing” the genetic sequences for the murine monoclonal antibody – an antibody found in rodents that has been found to immunize against rabies – so that it could be tolerated by people. The tobacco plant was then turned into a “production platform” to carry the antibody.

The antibody produced from the genetically altered (or transgenic) plants was then investigated for its impact on rabies. It was found to be effective in treating a broad range of rabies viruses by preventing the virus from attaching itself to nerve endings around the bite, which stops it from traveling to the brain through the nerves.

“An untreated rabies infection is nearly 100 per cent fatal and is usually seen as a death sentence,” says St George’s PhD researcher Leonard Both. “Producing an inexpensive antibody in transgenic plants opens the prospect of adequate rabies prevention for low-income families in developing countries.”

The findings could lead to further research involving other plants, although tobacco remains an attractive proposition as it is not a food crop. The study was recently published in The FASEB JournalSource: St George’s University

While health advocates and tree huggers will be delighted with this development, it will hardly generate sufficient opportunity for ‘real’ tobacco farmers. Secondly (and most importantly), those governments who are pushing for stringent tobacco legislation need to realise that their ‘cash crop’ and revenue income by-product is about to dry up… else are they going to extort much-needed tax revenues?

Chinese Imports surge – outpace Exports

Port of Shanghai

Port of Shanghai

China’s exports rose 25 percent in January from a year earlier while imports increased 28.8 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of $29.15 billion, the customs administration said today in Beijing.

The growth in overseas shipments compares with the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey for a 17.5 percent expansion and a 14.1 percent increase the previous month.

The gain in imports compares with the median estimate for a 23.5 percent jump and a 6 percent increase in December. The trade surplus compared with the median projection for $24.7 billion and a $27.1 billion excess a year ago.

The Chinese customs administration last month defended the quality of its trade data after analysts at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and UBS AG said it may fail to capture the true picture of imports and exports.

Trade data in the first two months of the year is distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January in 2012 and is in early February this year, making the figures tough to interpret, according to economists including Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in Hong Kong. Source: Bloomberg

What’s in a name – Transnet Rail Engineering undergoes more change

English: Spoornet Class 18E Series 1 18-503

Transnet Class 18E Series 1 18-503 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of Transnet’s many faults (it has many good points too) is that it keeps changing its branding. For about 60 years just about everyone was familiar with the South African Railways & Harbours or SAR&H or its Afrikaans equivalent – well, okay, maybe not so happy with the absolute monopoly but we all knew the name and what it represented. Then for some reason the SAR&H was evolved into SATS – South African Transport Services but soon that wasn’t good enough and the group became Transnet, with its various offshoots and divisions.

One of these that we all remember was Portnet – which actually wasn’t a bad choice for the old Harbours Service. But still not satisfied with things, someone decided that Portnet must be absorbed back into Transnet with the divisions taking on separate identities – Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Ports Terminals (TPT). Lest we forget however, in between we had South African Ports Operators (SAPO) whose acronym clashed with that of the South African Post Office.

Nor was the railways spared this confusion in the haste to rebrand. It became Spoornet, a name which surprisingly stuck in the early days of post-1994. But eventually that had to change, becoming Transnet Freight Rail as the division went about attempting to convince itself that it could survive as a main line carrier of freight only – no more parcel trains and definitely no more branch lines.

Another of the older divisions to suffer this loss of identity was the old workshop division, well established at places like Germiston, Salt River, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Uitenhage and so on. Those that weren’t shut down or emasculated became Transwerk –again a name that surprisingly hung around for longer than expected. But change comes to all and Transwerk evolved into Transnet Rail Engineering, or TRE by its acronym – another of those habits we seem fascinated with.

And now, once more the passion for name-changing has taken hold. The engineering business is now called Transnet Engineering (TE), which we are forced to admit is actually quite a good choice for a change. In fact, we wonder, why on earth wasn’t it called that in the first place? (Source:

All of the above pales into insignificance when compared to the embarrassing realisation of the acronym for the South African Border Police’s division – Port Of Entry Security!


HCVG Inspection System - Smiths Detection

HCVG Inspection System – Smiths Detection

Smiths Detection has announced a €19m contract with the Italian Customs Agency to supply high-energy X-ray cargo scanners for deployment at six major ports including Naples, Genoa and Bari. According to Smith’s – “We have worked closely with Italian customs for many years, not only supplying detection systems but also providing the highest standard of after-market service. This latest contract underlines the continuing success of our customer-driven approach.”

The HCVG inspection systems, which can detect contraband, narcotics and weapons, will also be used for confirming cargo details to ensure customs and excise duty and trade taxes are in order. Click here for more technical details of the HCVG inspection system 

Able to inspect up to 20 containers, trucks or vans an hour, the gantry-mounted scanners can penetrate steel 330mm thick. A detailed X-ray image, which features organic and inorganic material discrimination using viZual imaging software, is produced by a single scan of the load.

Smiths Detection offers advanced security solutions in civil and military markets worldwide, developing and manufacturing government-regulated technology products that help detect and identify explosives, chemical and biological agents, radiological and nuclear threats, weapons, narcotics and contraband. It is part of Smiths Group, a global leader in applying integrated, advanced technologies to markets in threat and contraband detection, energy, medical devices, communications and engineered components. Smiths Group employs around 23,000 people in more than 50 countries. Source: Business Wire