The National COVID-19 Taskforce has agreed that all trucks entering Uganda will have only one person on board for the next four weeks in a move to control the movement and exposure of Ugandans to foreign truck drivers.
The meeting which was convened yesterday decided that drivers will have to implement the relay system-where a designated driver drives to the Ugandan border and from there on, another from Uganda who has tested negative for COVID-19 continues with the rest of the journey.
For the last two weeks, truck drivers have undergone mandatory testing at the borders but have been allowed to continue with their journeys before the release of their results. In the process, the drivers who have tested positive have come into contact with several Ugandans. As of today, 18 drivers have tested positive and over 300 contacts are being monitored and traced.
With the new measures, new truck parks or stops have been designated. Drivers who have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for their results will stop under the surveillance of security officers to wait for their results. Once results are released, drivers who test positive will be picked up by health ministry officials while those who test negative will be allowed to continue with their journey.
Different routes will have three stops. Route one will cover drivers from Kenya. These drivers will be able to stop at either Namboole, Lukaya, Ntungamo/Ishaka and the border. Route two also from Kenya will have drivers stop in Soroti or Kamdin corner. Trucks from Tanzania travelling to Kampala will cover route three and stop in Karuma and Packwatch. Route four will cover trucks from DRC. The trucks will travel from Fortportal to Mubende and then Namboole.
All other stop points that were previously used by the trucks such as; Tororo, Mbale, Lira, Kamdin, Mbikko, Naluwerere, Lyantonde, Namawojolo, Sanga, Ruti, Migyera, Luwero have been closed. No truck is allowed to make stops there.
The new measures come following an outcry from Ugandans after several truck drivers carrying cargo from Kenya and Tanzania tested positive for COVID-19. Many had called for the closure of all border entry points.
Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and also a member of the task force says that the new measures are going to be implemented starting next week. She says that all the measures that have been set up are geared towards protecting Ugandans.
The task force also decided on reducing the number of fuel trucks that cross the border. According to Dr Musenero, railway services are going to be used to transport fuel.
“ We want to reduce the number of trucks entering the country. The railway freight services are going to be brought on board so that some things like fuel can be transported using the railway,” Dr Musenero adds.
Other measures that were discussed and passed include; the mandatory use of personal protective equipment like masks by all drivers. Also, domestic trucks should have only two people. In addition to this, freight forwarders will have to pay for testing kits to be used to test drivers.
Top diplomats from 13 countries of a cross-regional network, including Indonesia, Singapore and Canada, have agreed on key principles of keeping transportation links and supply chains open to cushion the impacts of COVID-19 on global trade and economy.
Facilitated by Canada, the informal network called the International Coordination Group on COVID-19 (ICGC) consists primarily of half of the G20 countries — Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom — with the addition of Morocco, Peru and Singapore. It was recently established to look for a shared commitment to “promote and protect free trade” and other selected measures to tackle COVID-19.
The fresh declaration was made by foreign ministries of ICGC in a Friday evening teleconference, after it was deliberated at a recent senior officials meeting.
Going forward, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said, any future cooperation “must be action-oriented” which would bring tangible benefits to the general public worldwide.
The declaration, despite its nature as a non-legally binding political declaration, aims at bolstering international norms and actions in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and to manage its social economic impacts. It identified a number of areas for concrete collaborative actions, outlining commitments to maintain an open flow of trade and investment, facilitate repatriation of stranded travelers, and to look for efforts to restore the post-pandemic global economy.
“We will continue to promote and protect free trade,” the ministers said in the declaration, as quoted from a press statement on Saturday. “[…] and we agree that emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19, if deemed necessary, must be targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, and that they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and are consistent with WTO [World Trade Organization] rules.”
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook on Saturday that the ICGC ministers had reiterated the importance of maintaining global connectivity, “such as transport and supply chain links, which will help all our economies recover more quickly when the pandemic eventually subsides”.
The WTO had sounded the alarm on Wednesday that global trade could plummet by a third this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, warning the deepest recession “of our lifetimes” could be on the horizon.
North America and Asia would be hardest-hit and could see their exports plunge by 40 and 36 percent respectively, while Europe and South America could see declines of more than 30 percent, the WTO said. Keeping markets open to international trade and investment would help economies recover more quickly, we will see a much faster recovery than if each country goes it alone.
Following the declaration, the ICGC would now strongly advocate for other countries to take similar steps, with South Korea leading a conversation on best practices for emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge. Maintaining strong coordination with our international partners is critical to mitigate the repercussions of the ongoing challenges we face,” Canada’s Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a statement. “Keeping people, goods and services moving is key in both addressing these issues and ensuring the transition to a strong recovery.”
New Zealand and Singapore launched a new trade initiative to ensure supply chain connectivity and the removal of blockages to trade in alist of essential products that includes medicines, medical and surgical equipment.
“Ensuring countries have the most straightforward and cost effective access possible to the essential goods needed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic is crucial,” Trade and Export Minister David Parker said.
David Parker and Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said: “This new initiative builds on the joint statement issued by Singapore and New Zealand last month, which has now been joined by seven other countries.
“The Declaration setting out the initiative includes a list of Covid-19 related products for which New Zealand and Singapore undertake to remove tariffs, not to impose export restrictions and to remove non-tariff barriers. It also includes an undertaking to keep supply chains operating effectively for these products.”
There is increased global demand, in particular, for medical and hygiene products and some countries are restricting their exports of them.
This is an “open plurilateral” initiative, so other countries can join at any point, and the two ministers said they encourage others to do so as soon as possible.
“New Zealand and Singapore consider it crucial that during this pandemic, trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and food continues to flow freely. We believe that global cooperation on trade can assist in dealing with this worldwide health crisis.”
David Parker said nothing in the arrangement would prevent us ensuring we have sufficient medical equipment and supplies in New Zealand.
The Declaration includes a list of over 120 products, identified as being essential goods in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, for which participants undertake to remove tariffs. This list includes PPE equipment, medical equipment, nutritional products, medicines and hygiene supplies. The Declaration also calls for participants not to apply export restrictions on food and beverage products, and to facilitate trade in food and beverage.
SARS confirms that its new Customs Registration, Licensing and Accreditation (RLA) system will be implemented on 20 April 2020. The main objective of the rollout will be the introduction of the eFiling channel for submission of registration and licensing applications. This ensures that services continue to be available during the lockdown period in order to minimise face-to-face contact.
For a list of qualifying client types, pleaseclick here!
This first phase of implementation focuses on applications for 45 clients types only. Excise applications are not included in this implementation. In th mean time, Customs traders wishing to submit applications on the RLA system are encouraged to register for eFiling in the meantime (if not already registered). Please refer to the following guide: How to register for eFiling.
This WTO study provides a comprehensive overview of trade and tariffs imposed on medical goods in general, many of which appear to be in severe shortage as a result of the current crisis. The purpose of this note is to provide factual information on how these goods are traded globally.
The Chairperson of the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG) submitted a paper to the WCO Secretary General outlining some observations, priorities and principles to be considered by the WCO and its Members during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These observations and recommendations are divided in four categories, namely (i) expediting the clearance of essential goods and key workers to support and maintain vital services; (ii) applying the “social distancing” principles to border processes; (iii) striving for efficiencies and simplification in all clearance procedures; and (iv) supporting business resumption and recovery.
“I greatly appreciate the useful contribution from the PSCG that merits serious consideration by Customs and other border agencies. In these challenging times, it is critical that we work even harder together in the spirit of Customs-Business partnership”, said the WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya.
The PSCG was established 15 years ago with the objective of informing and advising the WCO Secretary General, the Policy Commission and WCO Members on Customs and international trade matters from the private sector perspective.
Over the past month, the PSCG, who represents a wide range of businesses and industry associations, have been holding virtual weekly meetings, with the WCO Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Council Chairperson in attendance. These meetings enable the Members of the group to provide status updates relevant to their respective industries, discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international trade and the global economy, and table for discussion proposals for a course of action by the global Customs community.
In the paper, the PSCG commends the WCO for reminding the global Customs community to apply internationally agreed procedures and processes to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods, conveyances and crew. The Group also points out that the crisis has shed light on the sound work carried out by the WCO over recent years and has demonstrated the benefits and value of efficient Customs reform and modernization efforts, which the Organization has long been advocating.
The PSCG paper will contribute to the agendas of the relevant WCO working bodies in the months to come.
But for as much as shipping has changed over the decades, not much about the bill of lading (BL) has. Today, it’s pretty much the same often-paper, always-time-consuming document it ever was.
That’s why driving an eBill standard is largely considered the Holy Grail of global trade. Succeed in that, and partners up and down the supply chain would benefit from the days and weeks that paper BLs add to the process as they are printed, pouched, messengered, lost, found and waited upon.
It’s ironic because there isn’t a single aspect of the BL that couldn’t be done better digitally. To demonstrate, let’s dive into the essence of these documents and the challenges that remain to making them digital.
How does an original paper bill of lading work?
Once the vessel departs, an original BL can be issued by the ocean carrier. After the shipper endorses the original bill, it is couriered to the buyer who then needs to surrender it back to the carrier at destination as part of the cargo release process.
It sounds simple enough, but along the way the BL impacts many other processes and actions. Even before issuance, the time-consuming process from a shipping instruction to the issuance of a verified BL, many iterations and changes can occur to get the BL into an approved state.
The BL, and its critical data fields are required for customs clearance, letter of credit, change of title and other processes. One delay in any of these can result in costly extra charges.
The functions of a bill of lading were made to be done electronically
In oftentimes convoluted international shipments, the BL is the legal go-to document that facilitates negotiation, lending and risk reduction by performing three key functions:
1. It is evidence of a contract of carriage
2. It confirms receipt of goods
3. It serves as the title to the goods
So, can eBill perform these functions while maintaining the integrity and legality that’s required? The P&I Clubs think so. Today’s top eBill solutions meet these challenges through rule frameworks and advanced security measures — all while providing significant cost and time savings.
eBills can play a pivotal role — and a digital role
Carriers issue the BL, but they rely on information from shippers which may change multiple times during the booking and shipper’s instruction processes. Electronic features like structured documents make creation, approval, distribution, tracking — everything — easier than paper.
This benefits not only the shippers but the carriers, buyers, sellers and banks without having the need to continue to print out paper — which defeats the purpose
Digital does the different types of bill of lading better
There are many types of BL, reflecting the complexities of international trade. Eliminating paper is only the beginning of the ways eBills can help streamline processes related to the two main categories of BL:
Sea Waybills are sometimes referred to as “Express Release.” They have a named consignee on them but are issued without any original documents that have to be presented for the release of the cargo. Non-negotiable and non-transferable, they are usually used in three cases:
Intra-company shipments between divisions located in different countries
Shipments when no negotiations take place between the seller and the consignee
Instances when the shipper doesn’t have to submit an original BL to any party in order to secure their payment
Original BLs have different forms that all hinge on the issuance of original BL documents in some way.
· Order BLs are the most common type of BL. They enable delivery of the cargo to be made “To Order” to the bonafide holder of the BL. These types of BL are negotiable and often linked to letter of credit transactions. Often banks must verify and endorse the original BL before the cargo can be released to the buyer.
Straight BLs stipulate that the cargo may only be released to the specified consignee and only upon the surrender of an original BL.
Open BLs are negotiable and transferable. The name of the consignee can be changed with the consignee’s signature and transferred — often multiple times.
Going Digital assists in filling out the bill of lading
With shippers providing the majority of the information for a BL, completeness and correctness is crucial. eBills help guide the way. If shippers can provide bill of lading information digitally, there’s less risk of keying errors. Form fields and autofill features all speed the process and lead to time savings.
One of the challenges of going paperless with BLs from the very beginning is standards. Adhering to set data standards makes information useful for different parties within organizations and multiple supply chain partners and it enables seamless workflows from automation. Unfortunately, standards are far from being standard today.
Digital makes the information included in a BL more useful
Users look to the bill of lading as an infallible source of essential and comprehensive information like names and addresses, purchase orders or reference numbers, special delivery instructions, pickup date, description of items, packaging type, NMFC freight class and DOT hazmat designations.
eBills of lading can make this information highly transparent to supply chain partners who can use it. But like many of the benefits of eBills, this transparency hinges on adoption — if all the participants of the supply chain are rowing together digitally, it works. If not, it just makes for another manual process that may end up being even more work than paper.
With its centrality to supply chains and essentiality to digitizing global trade, it’s easy to understand why the industry has its sights set on digitizing this important document. But acceptance of the eBill remains both the goal and the greatest challenge today. That’s why getting the eBill to catch on will require successfully digitizing the entire process for eBills, too.
TradeLens, with its relationships with the world’s largest ocean carriers, is in a unique position to explore the digitization of this process at an unprecedented scale. Within an ecosystem where there’s already widespread acceptance, the potential of the eBill could finally be revealed.
Business Unity South Africa has published a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)to provide functional guidelines for businesses importing critical supplies and essential goods into South Africa under Rebate Item 412.11 and Schedule 1(8) of the Value Added Tax Act, and includes both imports of dutiable and duty-free goods.
To respond to the unprecedented demand in medical supplies amid the current global COVID-19 pandemic around the world, and in order to help countries speed up the cross-border movement of these critical products, the WCO and the World Health Organization (WHO) joined hands to strengthen their cooperation by establishing a coordinated approach in their response to the pandemic.
As a result of this joint effort of the two organizations, the HS Classification Reference for COVID-19 Medical Supplieswas updated, in a more structured and user-friendly format, to reflect more of the products that would be required in the professional opinion and experience of the WHO in public health. The first HS classification reference for COVID-19 medical supplies, published by the WCO at the dedicated section of its website two weeks ago, was an initial response of the Secretariat to help countries in their fight against the spread of COVID-19. The initial list contained the classification of essential products needed such as COVID-19 diagnostic test kits and masks, certain protective personal equipment and medical devices such as ventilators and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), consumables and disinfectant products that may be used for the prevention and treatment of the disease. The latest edition expands this list to cover a greater range of medical equipment and supplies that are required as critical itemsby the WHO, such as oxygen concentrators and sample collection sets.
The list of HS-coded medical supplies was widely appreciated by stakeholders and taken into consideration by governments when preparing their responses to secure and facilitate trade in these supplies. It serves as the basis for identifying the cross-border movement of the products needed during the pandemic, applying contingent tariff and non-tariff relief policies, monitoring and combating falsified supplies, and even for taking responsive actions to address shortages.
The updated list is provided as an indicative list with a view to facilitating the classification of COVID-19 medical supplies at the international level (6 digit of the HS). Economic operators are kindly advised to consult with the relevant Customs administrations in relation to classification at domestic levels (7 or more digits) or in the event of any discrepancy between their practices and this list.
A dedicated COVID-19 page has been added to this blog to provide Customs and Trade users a reference and insight into a variety of international and South African weblinks and documents concerning guidelines under COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly to include additional links and updates to any relevant document or website referenced. Please bookmark this page to be kept abreast of updates.
CargoSmart Limited, a leading shipment management technology solutions provider, announced that it conducted a pilot project with COSCO SHIPPING LINES (COSCO), Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), and Tesla, Inc. (Tesla) for a new application to transform the cargo release process. It is among the first pilot projects with an ocean carrier conducting a real-time exchange of shipment data with a terminal operator through blockchain. The pilot not only demonstrated the benefits of having a single, trusted source of truth in cargo documentation, but also the efficiency gains for industry participants. Such an application will undoubtedly accelerate the digitalization of shipping industry processes and the further optimization of currently stressed global supply chains. The application will be further developed for participants of the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) blockchain consortium, once it is officially established.
The pilot project was designed to minimize consignee and shipping agent verification steps with their ocean carriers in order to speed up the release of sea waybills. As a result, truckers are able to pick up their cargo at the terminal faster, helping shippers meet delivery windows and ensure that service quality and customer commitments are met.
During the pilot in December 2019, COSCO and SIPG streamlined the cargo release process by enabling Tesla to accelerate its cargo pick up procedures on a trusted and secure platform (related post on COSCO’s official WeChat account). The pilot also allowed SIPG to view a single, trusted source of COSCO’s sea waybill data, enabling faster preparation of delivery orders for consignees and their shipping agents. In late March 2020, CargoSmart further enhanced the application to display laden gate out, appointment date, and terminal release, enabling shippers to have better visibility of their cargoes.
Henry Huang, Executive DGM of Operation & Business Department of SIPG, said, “The pilot is a key component of our journey towards paperless, trusted, and seamless trade processes at the Port of Shanghai, and it demonstrates the benefits for supply chain stakeholders around the world. We look forward to extending the collaboration with more supply chain stakeholders to render extraordinary service to our community.”
Wu Yu, General Manager of Business Process & System Division of COSCO said, “The pilot with SIPG and CargoSmart showcased significant efficiency gains not only in the cargo release process, but also for downstream supply chain planning by presenting a single source of truth for documentation for all involved parties. We look forward to more blockchain-based applications that can create value for customers and the industry alike.”
Expanding Value to More Carriers and Terminals
The successful pilot has proven that the unique collaboration model between ocean carriers and terminal operators is able to create benefits for stakeholders along the global supply chain. Leveraging this successful experience, the cargo release application is expected to further promote carrier-terminal data exchange and streamline operations. It is envisaged that this application will unleash the full potential of the proposed GSBN platform once it is established, subject to the requisite regulatory approvals.
As preparations continue for the future formation of the GSBN, contingent upon securing required regulatory approvals, CargoSmart will conduct similar pilots with Xiamen Ocean Gate Container Terminal Co., Ltd. (XOCT) and other terminal operators such as those at the Port of Qingdao in China and the Port of Laem Chabang in Thailand. The objective is to broaden the scope of the pilot by involving more carriers and terminals, and eventually extending the pilot to other industry participants in the near future. To further enhance the value of the pilot application, CargoSmart will enable APIs to explore and test ways to extend visibility to shippers for greater efficiencies throughout the cargo release process.
LYON, France – INTERPOL has released international guidelines in order to enhance the safety and effectiveness of law enforcement and first responder support in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaped in accordance with international best practices and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations, the guidelines provide information on how officers can protect themselves and their families, and outline the various roles carried out by law enforcement during a pandemic. These include:
border control and maintaining public order
assisting national health authorities in identifying cases and their origin
relaying public health measures to the population
securing deliveries of medical equipment or transfers of patients
The rapid spread of the virus worldwide, and uncertainties as to its evolution, demand a global response. Here, law enforcement plays a crucial role, by contributing to the effort to control the disease, promoting safer communities, and fighting criminals who see the outbreak as an opportunity to increase – or diversify – their activities.
Accordingly the guidelines warn of emerging crimes linked to pandemic, including intimidation and deliberate dissemination attempts, fraud or phishing, cybercrime, and counterfeiting.
With police routinely running into dangerous situations to protect their communities, the guidelines are intended to be considered by law enforcement agencies as part of a response strategy to the outbreak in line with recommendations by national public health authorities. Their purpose is to supplement rather than replace national guidelines.
All measures taken by national law enforcement authorities should therefore conform with the applicable national legislation and international obligations.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said all levels of law enforcement were being mobilized during this sensitive time.
“I have been speaking with police chiefs around the world who, along with their officers, are facing enormous pressure because of COVID-19,” said Secretary General Stock.
“To help them in their work, these guidelines outline both the current and emerging crime threats linked to this pandemic as well as advice on how officers should protect themselves, and the communities they serve.
“We are in this together, and INTERPOL will continue to provide whatever assistance our 194 member countries need,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
INTERPOLʼs secure global communications network I-24/7 ensures vital policing information continues to get where it is needed.
Its specialist crime units will share the latest trends and threats related to COVID-19, with its Command and Coordination Centre ensuring calls for assistance are answered.
The heads of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a joint statement on 6 April pledging to work together to facilitate trade in essential goods such as medical supplies, food, and energy.
WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said the two organizations would work closely together to minimize disruption to cross-border trade in goods – in particular those essential to combat the COVID-19 pandemic – while safeguarding public health.
They also pledged to establish a coordinated approach to support initiatives that facilitate cross-border trade so that essential goods can quickly reach those most in need, including in least developed and land-locked countries. WCO and WTO members have already been invited to increase transparency by sharing information on new trade and trade-related measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and governments consider new measures to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, we urge Members to ensure that any new border action is targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory,” they declared.
The text of the joint statement is below.
WCO-WTO Joint Statement on COVID-19 related trade measures
The COVID-19 pandemic, while above all a public health crisis, presents the world with unprecedented social and economic challenges. Emergency measures needed to curb the spread of the disease have unintended impacts on the world economy and trade, including the global supply chains that produce and distribute essential goods such as medical supplies, food, and energy.
To support the ongoing efforts to mitigate the social and economic effects of the pandemic, we, the Secretariats of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), agree to work closely together to minimize disruption to cross-border trade in goods – in particular those essential to combat COVID-19 – while safeguarding public health. We commit to provide appropriatesupport to all relevant stakeholders.
Within our respective mandates, we have already invited Members to increase transparency by sharing information on new trade and trade-related measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent appropriate, we are making such information publicly available through our respective websites.
We are also willing to establish a coordinated approach in support of initiatives that facilitate cross-border trade in goods, in particular those key to combat COVID-19. This would allow that essential goods can quickly reach those most in need, including in least developed and land-locked countries.
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and governments consider new measures to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, we urge Members to ensure that any new border action is targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory – as agreed by G20 leaders. We stress that these measures should be temporary, and we encourage Members to rescind them once they are no longer needed, especially if they restrict trade. We welcome initiatives to facilitate and simplify cross-border procedures and urge our Members to prioritize those for exporting and importing essential goods.
As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to further explore ways to coordinate the efforts of the two organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at keeping trade flows open for the safety of populations around the world and a strong recovery of the global economy.