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TAXUDCustoms officers seized 31m counterfeit items at the EU’s borders last year worth more than €580m – with food, toys and cigarettes intercepted most frequently.

The total numbers of seized products has declined since 2016, but there is a worrying trend towards a higher proportion of potentially dangerous items such as food, medicines, electrical goods and toys, which accounted for 43 per cent of all detained goods. That’s up from 26 per cent in 2015 and 34 per cent in 2016.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the seizures were for foodstuffs, followed by toys making up 11 per cent, cigarettes at 9 per cent and clothes at 7 per cent of the total.

“The EU’s customs union is on the front line when it comes to protecting citizens from fake, counterfeit and sometimes highly dangerous goods,” said  Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.

“Stopping imports of counterfeits into the EU also supports jobs and the wider economy as a whole,” he added. Given the increasingly likelihood that the UK will no longer be part of the customs union post-Brexit, it’s worth noting that UK customs seized almost 1.5m goods last year.

Once again, China and Hong Kong were the primary sources for the vast majority of illicit goods, at 73 and 10 per cent, respectively, with China down from 81 per cent in the prior year and Hong Kong up from around 8 per cent. Other countries have emerged as hot spots for particular product categories, however, with Moldova a source of illicit alcohol, the US for other fake beverages and Turkey for counterfeit clothing. India was the top country of origin for fake, and potentially harmful, medicines.

In terms of modes of transport, two thirds (65 per cent) of all detained articles entered the EU via the maritime route, usually in large consignments. This was followed by air traffic which transported 14 per cent, and courier/postal traffic which together accounted for 11 per cent and mainly involved consumer goods ordered online such as shoes, clothing, bags and watches.

The Commission said the downturn in seizures comes after it implemented new measures aimed at protecting intellectual property rights last year, with a particular emphasis on helping smaller companies and startups respond to breaches.

Source: Securingindustry.com, P.Taylor, 2018.09.27

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Irish flag

Following Britain’s recent utterances that it will not rule out the possibility that the EU may retain oversight of customs controls at UK borders after it leaves the bloc, the Irish government has warned UK authorities it will not be used as a “pawn” in Brexit negotiations, reports News Letter, UK.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he does not want the issue of the Irish border to be used by the UK government as a tool to pressurise the EU for broader trade agreements.

Mr Coveney also said that sufficient progress on the future of the Irish border has not been made during Brexit talks.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire in Dublin on Tuesday Mr Coveney said: “We do not want the Irish issue, the border issue, to be used as a pawn to try to pressurise for broader trade agreements.”

He added: “Sufficient progress (on the issues facing the island of Ireland post-Brexit) hasn’t been made to date.”

He warned that in order for Brexit negotiations to move onto the next phase “measurable and real progress” is needed.

Before the meeting Mr Brokenshire insisted there was no possibility of the UK staying within a customs union post Brexit.

He said that to do so would prevent the UK from negotiating international trade deals.However, following a meeting with the Irish and British Chamber of Commerce he said there would be a period of implementation where the UK would adhere closely to the existing customs union.

“We think it is important there is an implementation period where the UK would adhere closely to the existing customs union,” said Mr Brokenshire. “But ultimately it is about the UK being able to negotiate international trade deals.

We want to harness those freedoms. If we were to remain in the customs union that would prevent us from doing so. “We are leaving EU, customs union and single market. We have set out options as to how we can achieve that frictionless trade,” he added.

However, Mr Coveney said the Irish Government believes the best way to progress “the complexity of Britain leaving the European Union is for Britain to remain very close to the single market and effectively to remain part of the customs union.”

He added: “That would certainly make the issues on the island of Ireland an awful lot easier to manage. “But of course the British Government’s stated position is not in agreement with that but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to advocate for that.

“In the absence of that it is up to the British government to come up with flexible and imaginative solutions to actually try to deal with the specific island of Ireland issues.” Source: Newsletter.co.uk, author Mc Aleese. D, August 22, 2017.

EU SADC EPAThe EU has signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on 10 June 2016 with the SADC EPA Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Angola has an option to join the agreement in future.

The other six members of the Southern African Development Community region – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU as part of other regional groups, namely Central Africa or Eastern and Southern Africa.

For specific details on the key envisaged benefits of the agreement click here!

The EU-SADC EPA is the first EPA signed between the EU and an African region, with an East African agreement expected to follow in a few months, but with the West African agreement having met fresh resistance. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström stressed at the signing ceremony the developmental bias in the agreement, which extended duty- and quota-free access to all SADC EPA members, except South Africa. Africa’s most developed economy has an existing reciprocal trade framework known as the Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement, which came into force in 2000.

South Africa, meanwhile, had secured improved access to the EU market on a range of agricultural products, as well as greater policy space to introduce export taxes. EU statistics show that bilateral trade between South Africa and the EU stood at €44.8-billion in 2015, with the balance tilted in favour of European exports to South Africa, which stood at €25.4-billion. This improved access had been facilitated in large part by South Africa’s concession on so-called geographical indications (GIs) – 252 European names used to identify agricultural products based on the region from which they originate and the specific process used in their production, such as Champagne and Feta cheese. In return, the EU has agreed to recognise over 100 South African GIs, including Rooibos and Honeybush teas, Karoo lamb and various wines.Sources: EU Commission and Engineering News

 

 

ConTraffic HomepageA new regulation adopted by the European Parliament and the Council will allow customs to access information to track the origins and routes of cargo containers arriving in the EU to support the fight against customs fraud both at EU and national level. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been instrumental in the conception and adoption of this legislation as it provided the scientific evidence on the importance of analysing the electronic records on cargo container traffic.

The EU customs authorities have been long aware that information on the logistics and actual routes of cargo containers arriving in Europe is valuable for the fight against customs fraud. However, they had very limited ways to obtain such information and no means to systematically analyse cargo container traffic both for fraud investigations as well as for risk analysis. On the other hand, the ocean carriers that transport the cargo containers, as well as their partners and clients, have easy on-line access to the so-called Container Status Messages (CSM): electronic records which describe the logistics and the routes followed by cargo containers.

jrc-cargo-container-routes-world-mapIn collaboration with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the JRC has worked extensively on how to exploit CSM data for customs anti-fraud purposes. The JRC proposed techniques, developed the necessary technology, and ran long-term experiments involving hundreds of EU customs officers to validate the usefulness of using CSM data. The results of this research led the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal that would enable Member States and OLAF to systematically use CSM data for these anti-fraud purposes. It also served to convince Member States of the value of the proposed provisions.

The financial gains from the avoidance of duties, taxes, rates and quantitative limits constitute an incentive to commit fraud and allow the capacity to properly investigate in cases, such as mis-declaration of the origin of imported goods. The information extracted from the CSM data can facilitate the investigation of some types of false origin-declarations. With the new legislation an importer will no longer be able to declare – without raising suspicions – country X as dispatch/origin of goods if these were transported in a cargo container that started in country Z (as indicated by the CSM data).

jrc-csm-dataset-world-map (1)The technologies, know-how and experience in handling CSM data, developed by the JRC through its experimental ConTraffic platform, will be used by OLAF to set up the system needed to implement this new legislation applicable as from 1 September 2016. The JRC will continue to analyse large datasets of CSM records (hundreds of millions per year) as these are expected to be made available through the new legislation and will continue to support not only this new regulation but to exploit the further uses of this data notably for security and safety and real-time operations. Its focus will be on data mining, new automated analysis techniques and domain-specific visual analytics methods. Source and Images: EU Commission

COMESA-SADC-EAC-TripartiteAround 2008, most Southern African countries began to realise that the great ambition found on the SADC website at that time of moving from a SADC free trade area to a customs union by 2012 was not going to happen.

The SADC website had a very EU-like regional integration agenda.

This is not surprising given that the great sugar daddy in Brussels basically funds the entire organisation. SADC wanted to replicate the EU linear model – first a free trade area where the countries trade freely among themselves; then a customs union where the members agree to a common tariff; and then a common market where all goods, services, capital and labour flow freely. Finally, SADC was to complete the copy of the EU by creating a monetary union.

This flattering imitation of the EU was obvious – the Brussels paymaster pays and we all happily follow their model into Kwame Nkrumah’s vision of a united Africa. But the ugly problem was, as ever, African history.

The less than subtle British also wanted a customs union in Africa. So, in 1910 they just created one – the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which, like the proverbial bicycle without any pedals, still manages to stand because it is padded with money.

When the British implemented SACU after the Anglo-Boer War, there was no need for polite and time consuming subtleties of contemporary African consensus building. The Union of South Africa and the British high commissioner signed on behalf of the protectorates of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland – not a black person in sight unless they were serving the tea.

Almost a century later those who designed the EU-like agenda for SADC’s integration conveniently forgot their history and somehow assumed that a customs union could be readily grafted on the SADC free trade area which was already in existence.

But there cannot be two external tariffs and, therefore, either SACU or SADC as a customs union had to go. And the difficulty that SADC faced with creating a customs union is that no one is ready to sacrifice national interests for a broader common good.

Free trade areas are relatively easy, they can be easily fudged, but customs unions are hard work because all the countries that are members have to agree to the external tariff.

In the meantime, the apartheid regime in Pretoria realised that it desperately needed to buy friends and influence enemies and so in 1969 it changed SACU from a regular customs union to one where the share of revenue from customs was derived from share of regional trade.

Normally, customs unions divide the revenue poll based on what economists call the ‘destination principle’. This meant that countries get the revenue depending on what imports were destined for that country. So if 5% of imports were destined for, say, Botswana, it would get 5% of the revenue.

But the SACU formula was purposely designed by South Africa to make the BLS (Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as members) completely dependent upon transfers from Pretoria by basing the formula on the share of intra-SACU trade and not external trade.

The oddity was that with the end of apartheid, things actually got even worse after the 2002 SACU re-negotiations because Pretoria agreed to a formula that made Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and newly independent Namibia get their share of customs revenue from SACU based on the share of intra-SACU imports.

SA imports almost nothing from SACU countries and the BLNS countries import almost everything from SA and so they get a huge amount of revenue. Many officials in Pretoria deeply resent the subsidies in SACU.

When the other SADC members saw how much money the BLNS countries were getting from Sacu, whenever the issue of a SADC customs union came up their response was – ‘me too please, we want the same formula!’

So, a SADC customs union would have eaten into the massive transfers (about N$20 billion per year) that Namibia and the rest of the BLNS states get each year from Pretoria and there was no way they were going to agree, and so the SADC customs union was not a realistic possibility.

After the obvious end of the SADC negotiations for a customs union, African negotiators began to look around for something that would keep them off the unemployment lines. The infamous African ‘spaghetti junction’ of the East African Community, Comesa and SADC with its overlapping membership became the next target. If you can’t form a customs union then just get a bigger FTA (free trade area).

Now this year, finally, an FTA has been signed but it has also been fudged. Few really want to give the highly competitive Egyptian producers free trade access to their African markets.

Ostensibly, we are moving to negotiate a continental free trade area which will finally begin the process of fulfilling of Nkrumah’s dream of a united Africa. But instead, what we have is Cecil John Rhodes’s dream of a market from Cape to Cairo – almost; no deepening of the African economic relationship into a customs union; just a widening to the north and west.

Free trade areas are a nice step forward but they normally require no real sacrifice of economic interests.

Europeans are guilty of many cruelties in Africa but none so absurd or spiteful as the ridiculous lines they drew on the map of the African continent in 1884 at the Berlin Conference when they divided up the continent. The Belgian barbarism in the Congo may fade from human memory and the wounds of apartheid may heal over time but African leaders will struggle to completely eliminate those economic and political lines from the map of Africa.

It is those lines and some petty “sovereign” economic interests that are the main reason why a billion dynamic people in Africa with such incredible natural resources continue to live in poverty. The Namibian (An opinion piece by Roman Grynberg, professor of economics at the University of Namibia.)

European Parliament By Cédric Puisney (via Wikipedia)

European Parliament
By Cédric Puisney
(via Wikipedia)

On 25 February 2014 the European Parliament gave its approval to the Proposal for a Directive of the Parliament and of the Council to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (recast).

The interesting new provisions contained in the proposal include certain measures which numerous organizations and enterprises across a broad range of sectors have long been calling for, in that they are intended to put an end to the freedom of transit of counterfeit goods through the customs territory of the EU even when those goods are destined for a country outside the Union. The measures approved in this regard are, specifically, the following:

  1. The holder of the trademark right may prevent goods coming from third countries and bearing a counterfeit trademark from entering EU territory.
  2. The holder of the right may take appropriate legal steps and actions against counterfeit goods. These include the right to request national customs authorities to implement measures to detain and destroy such goods under the new customs Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013.
  3. The holder of the right may also prevent the entry into the EU of small consignments of counterfeit goods, particularly in the context of sales over the Internet.

A small consignment is defined in Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013 as a postal or express courier consignment containing three units at most or having a gross weight of less than 2 kg.

Parliament proposes that in these cases the individuals or entities who ordered the goods should be notified of the reason why the measures have been taken and similarly be informed of their legal rights vis-à-vis the consignor.

The provisions thus approved in connection with small consignments follow on from the recent judgment of the Court of Justice in case C-98/13, published on 6 February 2014, in which it was held that, even where the sale of goods for own use had taken place through a website in a non-member country, the holder of the intellectual property right could not be deprived of the protection afforded by the customs regulation and the consequent power to prevent those goods from entering the European market, without there being any need first to ascertain whether the goods had previously been the subject of an offer for sale or advertising targeting European consumers.

In conclusion, the European Parliament has taken a great step forward in the fight against counterfeiting on all fronts and not just inside its territory. Source: ELZABURU

European-Commission-Logo-squareThe European Union’s rules determining which countries pay less or no duty when exporting to the 28 country trade bloc, and for which products, will change on 1 January 2014. The changes to the EU’s so-called “Generalised System of Preferences” (GSP) have been agreed with the European Parliament and the Council in October 2012 and are designed to focus help on developing countries most in need. The GSP scheme is seen as a powerful tool for economic development by providing the world’s poorest countries with preferential access to the EU’s market of 500 million consumers.

The new scheme will be focused on fewer beneficiaries (90 countries) to ensure more impact on countries most in need. At the same time, more support will be provided to countries which are serious about implementing international human rights, labour rights and environment and good governance conventions (“GSP+”).

The EU announced the new rules more than a year ago to allow companies enough time to understand the impact of the changes on their business and adapt. To make the transition even smoother for exporting companies, the Commission has prepared a practical GSP guide.

The guide explains in three steps what trade regime will apply after 1 January 2014 to a particular product shipped to the EU from any given country. It also provides information on the trade regime that will apply to goods arriving to the EU shortly after the New Year.

The changes in a nutshell:

  • 90 countries, out of the current 177 beneficiaries, will continue to benefit from the EU’s preferential tariff scheme.
  • 67 countries will benefit from other arrangements with a privileged access to the EU market, but will not be covered by the GSP anymore.
  • 20 countries will stop benefiting from preferential access to the EU. These countries are now high and upper-middle income countries and their exports will now enter the EU with a normal tariff applicable to all other developed countries.

For the finer details of the revised EU rules visit: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-1187_en.htm?locale=en

THE number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. Picture: Seanews Turkey

THE number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. Picture: Seanews Turkey

The number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. (Comment: by stark contrast French Doeane still have more staff than the South African Revenue Service, where the Customs compliment is around 2500 officers.)

“Ten years ago, 1.2 million containers a year arrived in the Port of Le Havre, with 560 customs staff and three agents of the competition and anti-fraud service,” said Bertrand Vuaroqueux of the National Union of Customs Officers. “Today, it’s 2.5 million containers, but only 400 staff.”

While the trend is EU-wide, it is more acute in France where the number of seizures of counterfeit goods has fallen by half since 2011 while 33 per cent of goods inspected in 2012 did not comply with EU rules, increase of 22 per cent from 2011.

Even the economy ministry, in charge of customs, hints at an official weakening of overall surveillance, Reuters reports. “The priority is no longer systematically to check vessels in coastal waters but to focus on the most important fraud cases,” it said in the draft 2014 budget.

European customs services are under orders to facilitate the flow of trade and make life easier for companies to avoid hobbling economic competitiveness.

Competition for business among European ports and airports has led to what critics call a race to the bottom between national customs services.

The big winners are Europe’s two largest ports, Antwerp and Rotterdam, where China has invested in making the 12-million-container-a-year megaport on the Maas/Rhine Estuary.

As the EU seeks a string of free-trade deals across the globe, Antwerp is building the world’s largest lock, wide as a 19-lane highway, to accommodate a new generation of giant ships.

Like its rival European ports, Antwerp is under pressure from importers to do checks quickly and efficiently. While only one to two per cent of goods entering Europe are physically inspected nowadays, online checks of digital paperwork are carried out on the basis of risk analysis.

The role of customs has also been changed by the single European market, which allows the free movement of goods inside the 28-nation EU and by globalisation which multiplied international supply chains, and by the economic crisis. Such trends may accelerate with new customs rules having customs declarations made at an office remote from the point of entry of the goods starting next month. “We will have to establish rules of engagement to ensure it doesn’t become a big sieve,” a European Commission source told Reuters. Source: Seanews.com

waterwaysforward-wordpress-com_SnapseedThe European Commission (EC) has announced new measures to get more freight onto Europe’s rivers and canals.

It underlines that barges are amongst the most climate-friendly and energy efficient forms of transport but currently they only carry about 6% of European cargo each year.

The new proposals intend to realise the “unused potential” of Europe’s 37,000 km of inland waterways, enabling freight to move more easily and lead to further greening of the sector, as well as encouraging innovation and improving job opportunities.

“We already send 500 million tonnes of freight along our rivers and canals each year. That’s the equivalent of 25 million trucks. But it’s not enough. We need to help the waterway transport industry develop over the longer term into a high quality sector. We need to remove the bottlenecks holding it back, and to invest in the skills of its workforce,” said the EC’s Vice President, Transport, Siim Kallas.

The Commission is proposing to remove significant bottlenecks in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks, bridges or fairways and missing links such as the connection between the Seine and the Scheldt river systems which are hampering the sector’s full development potential.

In August last year, Lloyd’s Loading List reported that a multi-billion euro project, the Seine-Nord Europe (SNE) Canal, to build a 106km, 54-metre wide canal to link the Seine and Scheldt rivers by the end of the decade, had suffered a serious setback, with doubts cast over private investment in the project.

The French government continues to support the SNE Canal despite the conclusions of an audit into its financial feasibility which recommended that it be postponed indefinitely.

It commissioned the over-hauling project which could be presented to the European Commission in its new form in the first quarter of 2014, the aim being to secure greater EU funding than that granted under the initial plans.

The Commission is also proposing action to encourage investment in low emission technologies and to support research and innovation. Source: Lloyds.com

European union concept, digital illustration.The European Commission has set out plans to ease customs formalities for ship but it’s as yet unclear as to how the changes are likely to affect EU ports.

Known as the Blue Belt, the proposals aim to create an area where ships can operate freely within the EU internal market with minimum administrative burden when it comes to safety, security, the environment and taxes.

Although free movement of goods is a basic freedom under EU law the Commission says that it’s not yet a reality for the maritime sector which needs to play more of a part in getting more trucks off congested roads.

Siim Kallas,Vice-President, European Commission, said: “We are proposing innovative tools to cut red tape and help make the shipping sector a more attractive alternative for customers looking to move goods around the EU.”

The new proposals will require amending the existing Customs Code Implementing Provisions (CCIP).

Under the new proposals Regular Shipping Services procedures will be made shorter and more flexible. The consultation period for Member States will be shortened from 45 days to 15 and companies will be able to apply in advance for an authorisation from countries they intend to do business with to save time.

The Commission also proposes putting in place a system which can distinguish EU goods on board a ship (which could be fast tracked through customs) from non-EU items, which would need to go through the appropriate customs procedures.

This new “e-Manifest” system would allow the shipping company to relay all goods information in advance to customs officials.

The Commission expects to make the Blue Belt proposal a reality by 2015. Source: PortStrategy.com

Siim Kallas - Europe’s ports must be better connected across the wider transport network.

Siim Kallas – Europe’s ports must be better connected across the wider transport network.

The following article featured in Port Stratetgy and penned by Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport policy, offers some sound views on how ports and regional networks ought to harmonise to ensure their competitiveness.

Europe’s prosperity has always been linked to sea trade and ports, which have great potential for sustaining growth in the years ahead. As gateways to the EU’s entire transport network, they are engines of economic development. And more cargo, cruise ships and ferries in our ports mean more jobs.

Europe depends heavily on its seaports, which handle 74% by volume of the goods exported or imported to the EU and from the rest of the world. Not only are they important for foreign trade and local growth, ports are the key for developing an integrated and sustainable transport system, as we work to get trucks off our saturated land transport corridors and make more use of short sea shipping.

Need to adapt

Even with only modest assumptions of economic growth, port cargo volumes are expected to rise by 57% by 2030, almost certainly causing congestion. In 20 years, Europe’s hundreds of seaports will face major challenges in performance, investment needs, sustainability, human resources and integration with port cities and regions.

So our ports need to adapt. Take the next generation of ultra-large vessels that carry 18,000 containers. Put onto trucks, these containers would stretch in a single line from Rotterdam to Paris. To accommodate them, ports need to provide the adequate depth, crane reach and shipyard space. There is also a growing need for gas carriers and gasification facilities.

Efficiency and performance vary a great deal around Europe. Many EU ports perform very well – take Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, which handle 20% of all goods. But not all ports offer the same high-level service. Port network connections and trade flows are well developed in northern Europe, but much less so the south.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link: if a few ports do not perform well, it affects the sustainable functioning of Europe’s entire transport network and economy – which needs to recover and see long-term growth.

Preparing for the future

Ports must be prepared for the future. This means improving local connections to the wider road, rail and inland waterways networks; fully optimising services to make the best use of ports as they are now; and creating a business climate to attract the investments that are so badly needed if capacity is to expand, as it must do.

Unlike other transport sectors, there is almost no EU ports legislation, on access to services, financial transparency or charging for infrastructure use. Experience from the last 15 years shows that the market cannot solve the problem itself; the lack of equal competition conditions and restrictions to port market access are barriers to improving performance, attracting investments and creating jobs. We need to act.

Our proposal to review EU ports policy focuses on the ports of the trans-European Transport Network, which accounts for 96% of goods and 95% of passengers transiting through the EU ports system. Firstly, if ports are to adapt to new economic, industrial and social requirements, they must have a competitive and open business environment.

Freedom to provide services, with no discrimination, should be a general principle; although in cases of space constraints or public interest, the responsible port authority should ensure that decisions granting market access are transparent, proportionate and non-discriminatory. Transparency of public port financing should also be improved, to avoid distortions of competition and make clear where public money is going. This will encourage more private investors, who need long-term stability and legal certainty.

On charging for using infrastructure, where there is no uniform EU model, port authorities should be more autonomous and set charges themselves. But this must be done based on objective, non-discriminatory and transparent criteria. Ports should also be able to reduce charges for ships with better environmental performance.

Staying competitive

We also plan to help our ports stay competitive by cutting more red tape and administrative formalities to boost their efficiency even further. As in many other economic sectors, staffing needs in ports are changing rapidly and there is a growing need to attract port workers. Without a properly trained workforce and skilled people, ports cannot function. The Commission estimates that up to 165,000 new jobs will be created in ports by 2030.

Modern port services and a stable environment must also involve modern organisation of work and social provisions. Many countries have reformed and the benefits of doing so can be clearly seen. Experience in Member States which have implemented ports reforms show that open and proper discussions between the parties involved can make a real difference. So we want to give this a chance first, over three years, to see what can be achieved. If that does not produce results, we will have to consider taking action.

To stimulate resource-efficient growth and trade, Europe’s ports must be better connected across the wider transport network. They must make sure they are able to develop and respond to change. This is what the European Commission aims to achieve, for the long-term benefit of the ports sector, local business and the environment. Source: Portstrategy.com

Dare say the following will not go unnoticed by South African authorities. The bottom line in all of this is the question of effective enforcement.

News that the government intends to go ahead with plans to introduce a charging system for foreign truckers using UK roads has got the thumbs-up from the Road Haulage Association (RHA). “This is a happy day for road hauliers”, said RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning. “We have been campaigning for years to see a system introduced which will lessen the financial advantage currently enjoyed by our European neighbours.”

Foreign truck drivers will have to pay £10 a day to use British roads by 2015, under the new legislation. British truckers are used to paying special road charges of up to £13 a day on the continent, but their European counterparts pay nothing when they drive in the UK.

Announcing the plan, New Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “These proposals will deliver a vital shot in the arm to the UK haulage industry. “It is simply not right that foreign lorries do not pay to use our roads, when our trucks invariably have to fork out when travelling to the continent.” It is estimated that 1.5m visits are made by foreign hauliers to the UK every year.

The new charge is expected to cost most drivers £1,000 a year. Dunning added: “This is not enough to give us a level playing field as regards the rest of Europe. But it is a good start and will help no end in beginning to prepare the ground.

“We are pleased that Mr McLoughlin has seen fit to bring forward this legislation so early in his tenure as Transport Minister; he is obviously very aware as to the important role played by UK hauliers in rebuilding the economy, increasing UK competitiveness and boosting growth.”

UK drivers will also have to pay the daily charge because of European laws, but it will be offset by a corresponding road tax cut. A bill setting out the plan will be published next month, with ministers expecting the new system to be introduced within the next two years. Source: Lloyds List

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the European Union Taxation and Customs Union Directorate (TAXUD) have agreed to language for the U.S.-EU Mutual Recognition Decision today which will lead to its signing in the Spring of 2012. Once signed, the Mutual Recognition Decision will recognize the respective trade partnership programs of the U.S. and the EU—CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the EU’s Authorized Economic Operator (AEO)—with reciprocal benefits.

In 2007, CBP and TAXUD initiated efforts to implement Mutual Recognition between C-TPAT and AEO. Mutual Recognition is an industry partnership program that creates a unified and sustainable security posture that can assist in securing and facilitating global cargo trade. Upon achieving mutual recognition with a foreign partner, one program may recognize the validation findings of the other program.

C-TPAT is a voluntary government-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen and improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security. C-TPAT recognizes that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the ultimate owners of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. CBP currently has mutual recognition with: New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea and Jordan. Source: USCBP

Related articles

The European Commission adopted a regulation revising rules of origin for products imported under the generalised system of preferences (GSP). This regulation relaxes and simplifies rules and procedures for developing countries wishing to access the EU’s preferential trade arrangements, while ensuring the necessary controls are in place to prevent fraud.

The Regulation adopted by the Commission today will considerably simplify the rules of origin so that they are easier for developing countries to understand and to comply with. The new rules take into account the specificities of different sectors of production and particular processing requirements, amongst other things. In addition, special provisions are included for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which would allow them to claim origin for many more goods which are processed in their territories, even if the primary materials do not originate there. For instance, an operator in Zambia that produces and exports plastics to the EU will benefit from the new rules of origin, because even with up to 70% of foreign input the exported plastics can still be considered as originating from Zambia. These new rules should greatly benefit the industries and economies of the world’s poorest countries.

The proposal also puts forward a new procedure for demonstrating proof of origin, which places more responsibility on the operators. From 2017, the current system of certification of origin carried out by the third country authorities will be replaced by statements of origin made out directly by exporters registered via an electronic system. This will allow the authorities of the exporting country to re-focus their resources on better controls against fraud and abuse, while reducing red-tape for businesses. The new rules of origin will apply from 1 January 2011.

For more information on the new proposal please check: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm