Archives For Cape Town

Saldanha Bay South AfricaRecently while reading of Transnet’s terminal capex expansion plans, I came across this interesting if not highly improbable plan featured in an article by Harry Valentine on Maritime Executive. I say improbable given the current economic and labour situation prevailing in South Africa at this time, not to mention the fact that the Transnet controlled Port of Ngqura is considered South Africa’s transhipment hub. Nonetheless, I think its admirable that such ideas are conceived and with a bit of thought and application are presented for consideration. From a Customs’ perspective such plans – in particular the notion of a floating terminal – could pose some interesting challenges (err opportunities) for SARS particularly given impending new compliance, licensing and reporting requirements contained in the new Customs Control Act. 

The Port of Los Angeles has welcomed its first 18,000-TEU ultra-large container ship, and Brazil, with a population almost as large as the U.S. and with future prospects of increased trade with Asia, could see such ships arriving via South Africa.

The projected future volume of container traffic that will pass through Brazilian ports would warrant future operation of ultra-large container ships between Brazil and major Asian transshipment terminals. However, it would take much investment and likely many years before a Brazilian port and terminal would be able to berth and service these vessels. One option would be to develop a transshipment port in South Africa that could serve as a terminal for ultra-large container ships that sail from such ports as Busan, Inchon, Shanghai and Hong Kong carrying containers destined for South America.

South Africa offers two bays capable of accepting ultra-large container ships. Richards Bay in the Northeast offers a draft clearance of 19 meters, while Saldanha Bay just north of Cape Town offers a draft of 21 meters. Bulk and ore freight terminals operate at both locations. Saldanha Bay is larger than Richard’s Bay, located near the large City of Cape Town and is closer to the shipping lane between South America and the Far East. It is also close to St. Helena Bay where waiting vessels may drop anchor.

When Richards Bay is at capacity, alternative areas where waiting vessels may drop anchor with a measure of protection from stormy seas are located at much greater distances. The Port of Durban is still Africa’s busiest container port and regularly operates at near-capacity. However, Durban and companion ports at Maputo, Port Elizabeth, Coega, East London and Cape Town have insufficient depth to accommodate ultra-large container ships. Saldanha Bay is a natural inlet that offers the necessary depth and has available space to develop a transshipment terminal to the south of the ore terminal.

There are tentative plans to borrow a precedent from Egypt and anchor a floating LNG storage tanker in Saldanha Bay, perhaps near the southern end of the inlet, to serve a variety of customer requirements. Tanker vessels could regularly carry LNG from Mozambique, Tanzania and Angola to the floating storage terminal. Operational precedents established at the Port of Durban could ensure smooth operation of maritime vessels entering and leaving Saldanha Bay, especially with excess vessels being able to drop anchor in St. Helena Bay as well as nearby Table Bay at Cape Town some 60 nautical miles away.

Future ultra-large container ships of 22,000 TEUs would offer savings in terms of average cost per container on the segment between Saldanha Bay and distant East Asian ports at or near the South China Sea. Automated terminal operations that include transfer of containers among vessels could contribute to competitive transportation costs to a variety of destinations along South America’s Atlantic coast as well as several South African ports, perhaps extending as far north as Nigeria on the Atlantic Coast (Asia – Africa trade), Tanzania on the East Coast (Africa – South America trade), as well as domestic Africa -Africa trade.

While South Africa’s economy may presently be under-performing, South African authorities have the option of inviting foreign investors and developers to explore the option of developing a transshipment super port at Saldanha Bay. Future trade through Saldanha Bay would include containers sailing to and from East Asian transshipment terminals such as Port of Colombo and Port of Singapore to connect into the combination of West Coast Africa – Asia and Atlantic Coast South America -Asia trade. Such combined trade enhances prospects for potentially viable transshipment port and terminal operations at a South African bay.

A transshipment super port at the southern end of the African continent would mostly transfer containers that originate from and be destined for foreign ports. Only a minority of the containers would originate from or be destined for domestic South African ports. South African exporters and importers would benefit from lower transportation costs per container compared to the transportation costs per container aboard smaller vessels.

It’s an idea worth considering.

Floating Islands

Cape Town is at the crossroads of ships that carry the trade between Asian nations and nations along the Atlantic Coast of South America and sub-Sahara West Africa. There may be future scope for an offshore, floating transshipment terminal built at Saldanha Bay and assembled either at Cape Town or St Helena Bay to reduce per-container transportation costs along this trade route. Such a terminal would attract interest from overseas. A floating hotel partially surrounded by breakwaters and permanently anchored offshore near a coastal city could be connected to the mainland using floating bridges and water taxi service.

There may be scope to expand upon the technology to develop multiple floating structures in a calm water area, with bridges connecting between them at strategic locations to maintain navigable canals between them. While water taxis could shuttle visitors between mainland and an offshore floating island, semi-floating bridges could also connect between mainland and such islands that may include business districts and even residential areas.

Coupled floating structures may also serve as an airport with a runway for commuter size of aircraft and perhaps even comparable size of wing-in-ground effect vehicles that provide service between coastal cities.

Source: article by Harry Valentine.

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At the launch of Transnet National Ports Authority's new Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) [Transnet]

At the launch of Transnet National Ports Authority’s new Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) [Transnet]

Transnet National Ports Authority’s new web-based Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) went live on 26 July at the pilot site, the Port of Durban, with the crude oil tanker, Colorado, the first to be brought into the port using the new system.

Developed by Navayuga Infotech, a company based in India, in collaboration with their South African partner Nambiti Technologies, the IPMS is a strategic project that aims to support the broader objectives of the Transnet Market Demand Strategy (MDS) in terms of efficiency and productivity.

The project will cost TNPA around R79 million for the entire system, for all eight South African ports, covering concept development, architecture, implementation and rollout.

TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu, said: “Since 2008, various feasibility studies were undertaken where we identified the need for an automated and web-based system to improve port operations, strengthen efficiencies and enhance competitiveness. This online system will help transform our ocean gateways into smartPORTs by using advanced information technology that will make them more intelligent and sustainable, while conserving resources, time, space and energy.”
The system replaces manual processes, with key port operations now set to be automated, online and in real time.

Vallihu said the IPMS was benchmarked against Malaysian and Singaporean ports which were among the world’s most efficient. The IPMS system will be a groundbreaking initiative in that for the first time in the world a system such as this is integrated across multiple ports on a single platform.

“For us as a customer-focused organisation this state-of-the-art information technology will ensure that port information and processes are transparent and easily accessible to users throughout the South African port logistics chain,” he said.

Yugen Reddy of Sharaf Shipping Agency was excited about being able to work more efficiently. “My role as an agent is to make sure that ships are in and out of the port as quick as possible because time is money. With IPMS we will be able to use our smart phones or tablets while we’re out and about to update the system and get acknowledgment from TNPA on the spot with regards to sailing or berthing of vessels,” he said.

Vessel agent, Londa Small of Thembani Shipping agreed. “I am optimistic about the IPMS system because everything’s going to be in real-time enabling quicker turnaround,” he said.

IPMS will link to Transnet Freight Rail’s Integrated Train Plan (ITP) and Train Execution Management System (TEMS). It is also integrated with global systems such as Lloyds Register, AIS (for vessel traffic management), IPOSS (for weather), EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and SAP (for business operations, customer relations and finance).

From Durban the project team will move on to Cape Town and Saldanha, then Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and East London and finally to Richards Bay and Mossel Bay.

TNPA conducted daily intensive training for internal and external users at the Maritime School of Excellence in Durban during June. Source: Transnet

DBN Relocatable ScannerThe following article suggests the need for greater consultation and collaboration between all supply chain parties. While the associated costs relating to supply chain movements is not the purview of SARS, these should be considered as part of the overall impact assessment in the lead up to such an implementation. For all intents and purposes this is an unintended consequence. Stakeholders should also note that the SA government has not imposed any fee for the scanning of cargoes to re-coup costs. Non-intrusive inspection (NII) capability is a tenet of international customs control intended to mitigate security threats and incidents of cargo misdeclaration, even legitimate cargo that can be used to mask harmful products stowed in vehicles/containers. The issue of increased cost of compliance has unfortunately been a trait of many international customs developments ever since the advent of ‘heightened security’ – post 9/11 and seems destined to remain a ‘challenge’ as we supposedly move into an era of increased trade facilitation.Joint collaboration between all parties not only assists in better understanding of the broader supply chain landscape but can also contribute to positive measures on the ‘ease of doing business’.

Freight & Trade Weekly (issue no. 2158, 10 July 2015) reports that Industry has called on customs to look into processes around its cargo scanners which they say are currently driving up costs.

Two state-of-the art scanners are currently operational at the Port of Durban and Cape Town and are part of South African Revenue Service’s (Sars) countrywide approach to risk management that aims for less intrusive inspections at ports and border entries.

The scanners were introduced in order to improve efficiency, with stopped containers being released more speedily than has been the case to date.

“It has however in some cases increased costs because it has resulted in double handling of containers,” said Dave Watts, a maritime consultant for the SA Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff).

Before the introduction of the scanners all stopped containers were moved by shipping lines to licensed depots for examination by Sars. Once the inspection was concluded and the container released the importer or his agent could collect it using their own transport.

The new process however sees the stopped container transported by the shipping line to the scanner where it is either released or has to be moved for a physical inspection to a depot.

If released at the scanner the container is however still on the shipping line’s appointed truck and not that of the importer or its agent’s nominated haulier.

There are no facilities to move it from one truck to the other at the scanners which means carrier haulage moves it to a depot anyway.

“The extra cost comes in simply because of the double handling,” explained Watts.

In Durban, where the new technology scanner was introduced just over a year ago, several importers maintain it is cheaper to just have their stopped containers taken to the depot for unpacks rather than going through the scanner and not unpacking.

According to Mike Walwyn, chairman of the Port Liaison Forum, the issue of carrier choice also comes into play as the importer now has to use carrier haulage for delivery as opposed to his or her own transport.

Whilst the Cape Town scanner has only been operational for a week, some very real challenges are foreseen and increased cost is one of them.

“The issue is not necessarily around the scanner,” says Watts, “but the rules and regulations around the customs act that stipulates all containers remain the liability of the shipping line until released by customs. In other words it has to be taken to the scanner by the carrier.”

It has been suggested that instead of doubling the handling of containers the carrier should just make the final delivery of the container, but it is generally accepted that carrier cartage rates are much higher than contracted cartage rates. In some cases the cost is said to be four times higher.” Source: FTW

Inter-Departmental CooperationSouth Africa’s first maritime port of entry control centre represents a milestone in the country’s journey to secure, modernise and control its borders, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said at the opening of the centre at Cowrie Port in Cape Town harbour last week on Friday.

The centre puts all the government departments and agencies involved in immigration and border control under one roof. These include the departments of home affairs, health, agriculture and fisheries, the SA Police Service (border police and crime intelligence), and the SA Revenue Service (Customs). The state-of-the-art centre would not only improve security and immigration issues, but would also serve to enhance trade and South Africa’s status as a logistical gateway to Africa, Gordhan said.

Trade

The rationale behind the centre was in line with the National Development Plan, the minister said. Among other things, the NDP aims to stimulate growth by lowering the cost of doing business in South Africa, improving the country’s competitiveness and exports, and linking local products with other emerging markets. Gordhan said the fast-growing markets of Africa represented important new markets, and the NDP was committed to increasing South Africa’s trade with its regional neighbours from 15% to 30%.

‘Complex borders’

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor, also speaking at Friday’s opening, said the centre had been designed “to accommodate in one spot not only customs, excise and immigration, but also health, safety and intelligence.

“Ports are complex borders to manage. Cowrie Place will provide the space and facilities to manage passengers and cargoes more efficiently than before.” Pandor said the government hoped to establish a border management agency by the end of 2016, taking advantage of the lessons learnt from Cowrie Place. A flagship feature of Cowrie Place is the co-ordination monitoring centre, where the data and information will be fed, assimilated and made available to all government department and agencies involved in the maritime border management.

“For the bona fide tourist or member of the trade community, this will mean better service,” Gordhan said. “For those who intend to challenge the laws of our country, be warned, as we intend to raise the bar of compliance by an order of magnitude.”

Important port

Cape Town’s port is oldest in South Africa, but despite changes to its maritime culture brought by air travel and containerisation, it is still an important point of entry. The port processes more than 870 000 containers as well as nearly 730 000 tons of dry bulk per annum, Pandor said.

A total of 6 173 commercial vessels and 55 passenger vessels entered and/or left the port in 2013, while more than 62 000 people entered and/or departed from Cape Town harbour. Pandor said E-berth at the harbour would be developed into a fully fledged passenger liner terminal to complement Cowrie Place.

Container vessel outside the Port of Cape Town

Container vessel outside the Port of Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. (Picture and article – Maritime-Executive)

A Port Control ships Pilot was set to be airlifted by helicopter to the ship and the ship will be moved to the Container Docks in the Port of Table Bay where they will be met by Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services who will board the ship to fight the blaze.

A (National Sea Rescue Institute) NSRI rescuer, Gavin Kode, was transferred onto the ship to make an evaluation and confirmed that no crew are injured and that they are The 222 meter fully laden container ship LILAC reported a fire in one of their holds, 1 nautical mile off the Port of Table Bay in South Africa on 28 September, with a total of 21 onboard.

The ship’s captain reported that his crew was fighting to contain the fire, and that at this stage he was not declaring an emergency. A ship’s officer reported that they were fighting the blaze with Co2 fire equipment.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) deployed 4 rescue vessels, and remained close to the ship as a precautionary measure. On their arrival, light white smoke could be observed coming from the ship.

LILAC confirmed to the JOC (Joint Operations Control at the Transnet National Ports Authority) to allow an NSRI rescuer and a Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services engineer onboard the ship to make an assessment. Transnet National Ports Authority is requesting that the type of blaze be identified, any chemical fall out risk to be identified and then to assess the feasibility of having the ship brought to a mooring at Port where Fire and Rescue teams can board the ship to take over fighting the blaze and to contain the situation. Source: Maritime-Executive

 

South African rooibos (Afrikaans for red bush) is caffeine-free, high in anti-oxidants and minerals, and traditionally grown in the Cederberg region, 250 kilometres to the north of Cape Town. Credit: John Fraser/IPS

South African rooibos (Afrikaans for red bush) is caffeine-free, high in anti-oxidants and minerals, and traditionally grown in the Cederberg region, 250 kilometres to the north of Cape Town. Credit: John Fraser/IPS

A trademark system which is used to protect Europe’s finest wines, cheeses and hams could soon brew up benefits for a humble tea from a remote region of South Africa.

The trade protection system called Geographic Indications (GIs), which is highly favoured by the eurocrats of Brussels, could be used to protect a South African red tea, locally known as rooibos (Afrikaans for red bush) as French firm Compagnie de Trucy is trying to secure the exclusive rights to market it in France.

GIs are increasingly important in the global trade arena, although it is wrong to think they offer enormous bulk trade opportunities. This form of food copyright already applies widely to specialty products, which can be linked to a specific region – such as French champagne, Parma ham and many types of cheese.

They (GIs) open-up niche markets for increased value add products, which taken together can total something significant. In addition, they involve cutting-edge frontiers in trade that largely rely on intellectual property rights for value, and are also linked to trade issues regarding brands and logos.

South African rooibos is caffeine-free, high in anti-oxidants and minerals, and traditionally grown in the Cederberg region, 250 kilometres to the north of Cape Town. It is growing in popularity worldwide due to its healthy properties, which helps to explain Compagnie de Trucy’s move to obtain marketing rights.

The issue has been elevated to diplomatic level between the European Union and South Africa at a time when both parties hope to finally conclude negotiations on updating their wide-ranging trade framework, after more than a decade of discussion. The GI system has enabled EU countries to clinch niche markets for brands such as champagne, which have enormous growth potential on a global basis.

While China as a country is South Africa’s biggest trading partner, the EU as a bloc is more important in value terms, and there are powerful arguments that both sides should expand GIs in their future relations. Soekie Snyman, the spokeswoman for the South African Rooibos Council, which represents rooibos producers, told IPS that the red tea needed to receive official trademark status in South Africa itself before it could qualify as a GI.

Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis (N.L.Burm.) R.Dah...

Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis (N.L.Burm.) R.Dahlgr., Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The EU supports the protection of indigenous crops, with one of the main requirements being that the product must be protected in its country of origin, and we are nearly ready to file for trademark protection in South Africa. Rooibos is a unique plant, coming from the Cederberg mountain area. It is a caffeine-free beverage.

The EU ambassador in Pretoria, Roeland van de Geer, confirmed in a news release in March that he received a request from South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies “for the protection of South African food product names as Geographic Indications in the EU.

As well as rooibos, there have been requests for Honeybush, which is another type of tea, and for lamb from the Karoo desert region. The development of a GI system for South African farmers will reinforce the uniqueness and quality of South African products. South African wine makers have used the GI system for many years and have found it an effective way to protect famous names like Paarl and Stellenbosch.

There is a range of other South African products that might also be eligible for GI protection, such as ostrich and springbok meat, and the marula fruit from which the Amarula liquor is made. Meanwhile, the same criteria could apply to produce from other countries of the Southern African region – such as Mozambican prawns, Botswana beef and Namibian oysters. Source: AllAfrica.com

SARS Customs Waterwing

SARS plans to operate jet skis (such as pictured above) along its vast river borders. [Picture – SARS]

Last week four Customs officers received their qualifications from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) after having successfully completed their written and practical examinations. The officers who hail from the Northern Cape region will commence active patrol and enforcement operations along the northern border between South Africa and Namibia.

The SARS Water Wing skippers received their SAMSA category R certificates after completing a four-day training course at the Van Rhyn Dam in Benoni.

The officers will from next week begin patrolling the Orange River, the border between South Africa and Namibia, where there are suspected illegal trans-border transactions taking place, especially in abalone, diamonds, narcotics and rhino horn.

“These officials are now qualified skippers with category R licences which will enable them to patrol inland waters such as rivers, dams and harbours. The success of this pilot programme now enables us to actively assist in enforcing the Customs and Excise Act without being totally dependent on other departments,” said Hugo Taljaard, Senior Manager: Detector Dog Unit (Oversight).

He said that although the two jet skis will mostly be used in the Nakop area, they will also be utilised as far as Cape Town harbour in the small craft side of the harbour. There are plans to expand the unit. Customs’ first water wing boat is currently being constructed and more details about its deployment will be communicated in due course.  The jet skippers all agreed that it was quite exciting to be part of this pilot programme. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would be doing something like this,” remarked one candidate.  “Having jet skis will increase our visibility and this will serve as a deterrent to illegal trans-border traders,” added another.

Over the last 6 years SARS has steadily been increasing its visible policing and enforcement capability across the country’s vast land and sea borders. The hugely successful Detector Dog programme has attracted much national and regional attention. SARS also has plans to increase its existing non-intrusive inspection (NII) capability. Currently Durban, South Africa’s sole CSI port, is the only port with a dedicated X-ray scanning facility. Source: SARS Communications Division and self.

Artistic impression – Durban Dig-out Port

Freight and Trade Weekly (FTW) reports that a team has been assembled to sort out the funding for the new dig-out port on the old Durban International Airport site (FTW November 9, 2012) – a project that represents a potential major shot in the arm for the economy of the region and the country. The consortium is composed of the well-known Dutch port consultants, MTBS; the highly respected international engineering firm, Arup; and Durban-based lawyers,Van Velden Pike Incorporated, in association with Nichols Attorneys.

This consortium is to act as transaction advisers to Transnet, on what is, according to government, likely to be SA’s flagship public/private sector partnership initiative.That will be part of the team’s studies, according to Andrew Pike, partner in Van Velden Pike. However, the study, although started, is still very much in pre-feasibility stage, and there is obviously still no firm comment to be made on what direction the public/private element will take, he told FTW.

Further abroad, AECOM has announced (Oct 2012) that Transnet has awarded the company a US$3.4-million contract to initiate the design of the Durban Dig Out Port in South Africa. AECOM’s has experience delivering creative design services for major ports around the world, such as the New Port Project in Doha, Qatar. As part of the contract, AECOM will provide concept and pre-feasibility design services for the new port and container terminals, including all associated infrastructure relating to its operation. A critical aspect of the design will be ensuring the sustainability of the port throughout the construction phase as well as all of the operational phases of its development.

The Mercury reports that work on the multi-billion rand project is expected to commence in July 2016, with the first phase of the project completed by 2019. Development of the project is to be over a 30-year period. The construction phase will provide an estimated 64,000 jobs, while 25,000 permanent jobs are envisaged in the functioning port.

The scale and details of the project are staggering. The port will involve liquid fuel, automotive and container cargoes. The siting of the entrance to the port will require the relocation of the Shell and BO Refinery’s (Sapref) single buoy mooring. The construction of the southern breakwater alone will absorb 16% of the total cost and will require special sources of quarry stone. Environmental concerns are being taken very seriously. For example R85-million has been budgeted to relocate some 2,000 chameleons which inhabit a part of the northern section of the airport site.

Of particular significance is that without the dig-out port, Durban will stagnate as a port of call and experience decline. Already Cape Town does not have the capacity or berths deep enough to handle the new generation of 18,000 TEU ships that are due soon. Durban’s proximity to the Witwatersrand makes it the logical and preferred destination for container shipping. Studies have shown that the old airport site is ideal for the construction of a new harbour designed specifically to manage the size and volume of container shipping. Durban’s geographical location in the southern hemisphere is particularly advantageous as regards intercontinental shipments from the east to South America and beyond to the north Atlantic. Sources: FTW, AECOM, and The Mercury.

 

Saldanha Bay IDZ?

November 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Its difficult not to be cynical…..after several failed and half-baked attempts at IDZs whats different about this one? Have the labour and tax issues changed?

A 60 day public consultation period for the designation of an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in Saldanha Bay has begun. Members of the public can make use of this opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed vision for Saldanha Bay as presented in the Application for IDZ Designation and Operator Permit for the Saldanha Bay IDZ document gazetted earlier last week. View the document here!

Collaboration between government, citizens and business is necessary to build a Western Cape that is a better place to invest, to do business, get a job and earn a living, for everyone. Saldanha Bay has long been acknowledged as an important resource for the sustainable growth and development of the West Coast region, and indeed, the whole of the Western Cape.

All indicators show that an Industrial Development Zone in Saldanha Bay would be to the benefit of the Western Cape, South Africa and the African continent as a whole in creating a functional, self-sustaining industry that contributes to economic development and sustainable employment. The Saldanha Bay Feasibility Study published in October 2011, found that there was sufficient non-environmentally sensitive land upon which an IDZ development could take place.

After a process of consolidation into an attainable business plan focussing on the Oil & Gas and Marine Repair Cluster, the socio-economic impacts were found to be that after 20 years, an IDZ in Saldanha Bay developed around these industries, would generate a minimum annual return of R11 billion for the economy and create over 25 000 sustainable jobs nationally.

The total contribution to GDP for the IDZ is expected to amount to R3.4 billion in the first year, increasing to nearly R6 billion in the second year. In the third year the contribution is expected to be slightly lower at R5.5 billion due to a decrease in capital spend, but then increasing by the twentieth year with a total annual contribution to GDP amounting to R11 billion.

Total direct and indirect jobs in the Western Cape are expected to amount to 4 492 in the first year, 8 094 in the second year, 7 274 in the third year, 10 132 in the fourth year and 14 922 in the fifth year. From the seventh year around 14 700 direct and indirect jobs would be sustained in the province as a result of the IDZ.

Saldanha Bay is an ideal location for the development of an Oil & Gas and Marine Repair Cluster. The Port of Saldanha Bay is also competitively located between the oil and gas developments on the West Coast of Africa, as well as the recent gas finds on the East Coast of Africa. South Africa is a significant industrial economy in the sub Saharan region and is logistically well connected to the region. It is therefore a natural location for providing repair and maintenance services, warehousing and logistics and professional/technical services where proximity to end location is an advantage. Source: Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development & Tourism

Kosie Louw, SARS (2nd from right) newly elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

SARS’s Chief Officer for Legal and Policy, Kosie Louw, was elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes at the organisation’s 5th meeting which was held in Cape Town last week. The appointment is for an initial two-year period from the beginning of 2013. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan congratulated SARS and Kosie Louw on his election as chairperson of the Global Forum on behalf of the South African government.

“I am certain that the two years of South Africa’s chairmanship will be beneficial for the forum but also to the wider global tax administration community. South Africa, the first African chair of the forum, takes over the post of the forum chair from Australia,” Minister Gordhan said.

The position of forum chair is especially important because the forum’s current mandate expires in 2015, and it is during SA’s tenure that a decision must be made on the best way to take the work of the forum forward. SA’s tenure also coincides with very challenging times for tax administrations globally, especially when it comes to the exchange of information for tax purposes, the Minister said. The two-day Global Forum event, held on 26 and 27 October, was hosted by SARS and was attended by delegates from 81 jurisdictions and 11 international organisations.

The Global Forum was created by the OECD in 2000 to provide a forum for achieving and implementing high standards of transparency and exchange of information in a way that is equitable and permits fair competition between all jurisdictions, large and small, OECD and non-OECD. The principle that guides the Global Forum’s work is that all jurisdictions, regardless of their tax systems, should meet such standards in order for competition to take place on the basis of legitimate commercial considerations rather than on the basis of lack of transparency or lack of effective exchange of information for tax purposes.

The Cape Town meeting comes at an important juncture in the work of the Global Forum as it starts evaluating whether its members are actually exchanging information effectively. It is developing a ratings system based on a global consideration of members’ effectiveness at implementing the standard in practice.

The organisation is also looking at ways of refining governance and deliberating on its future direction. The importance of the work of the Global Forum in the region is highlighted by the increasing membership of African countries to 15, with Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia and Uganda becoming the most recent members. This brings the Forum’s membership to 116.

South Africa has the largest and ever increasing tax treaty network in Africa and is seen as one of the most active jurisdictions in the work towards transparency and exchange of information. The South African Peer review report, which found South Africa’s legal framework and practices to be in accordance with the internationally agreed standard, was adopted by the Global Forum during this meeting. Source: SARSNews

Related articles

Over 230 delegates representing WCO Members, the academic world, international organizations, the private sector, donor organizations and other interested parties attended the 7th WCO Conference on the Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD) hosted by the University of Cadi Ayyad in partnership with Morocco Customs and the WCO in Marrakesh, Morocco from 25-27 September 2012.

The Conference was co-chaired by Prof. Michael Wolffgang, University of Münster, and Prof. M’barek Benchanaa and Prof. Abdullah Ait Ouahman from the University of Cadi Ayyad. The Conference focused on three main topics: The Impact of Regional Economic Integration and Preferential Trade Arrangements on Customs Services; Emerging and Evolving Risks; and Customs Strategic Human Resource Management.

The WCO PICARD Programme was officially launched in 2006 to strengthen co-operation between the WCO, universities, and Customs human resources entities such as Customs Academies. The programme’s objective is to provide a platform where stakeholders can co-operate, collaborate, and contribute to two main pillars: (1) Customs professionalism and (2) Customs-related research.

Key PICARD achievements include adopting the PICARD Professional Standards for operational and strategic Customs managers; holding six successful PICARD Conferences; and publishing many Customs-related research papers in the World Customs Journal. Moreover, a growing number of universities have obtained WCO recognition of their Customs-related academic curriculums.

The PICARD Conference has become an annual meeting place for Customs officers, Customs human resource professionals, and academics to network and exchange ideas on Customs professionalism and Customs-related research. It is an opportunity for Customs academies and the WCO Regional Training Centres to glean new ideas on human resource development. At each conference, research papers are presented; this year, papers will be presented on regional economic integration, emerging and evolving risks, and human resource management.

The dearth in Customs expertise has become an international phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception. Locally based training organisation, GMLS, has been working with the University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban and UCT in Cape Town and in Durban specifically it is expected after council of Higher education approval next year that we will be offering a full masters Degree in Customs for the first time in South Africa as a MCom Customs and Excise, says GMLS CEO Mark Goodger. GMLS is a WCO E learning trainer, an ICC accredited trainer and an approved TETA (Transport Education Training Authority Trainer).

Mark was invited as a guest speaker to this year’s Picard Conference. He explained that the WCO arranged presentations to  stimulate discussions and guidance required from the WCO in the future. Along with South Africa, presentations were also delivered by Finland, Canadian and Moroccan Customs training experts in the results of research and the status in SADC countries of recognised accredited training frameworks which can be utilized by Customs worldwide. Whilst Customs administrations are implementing the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework it is clear that trade will need to follow the direction of future compliance as Customs leads forward into the 21st century.

Forgive my exuberance and national pride, for one minute. After some years of intense re-organisation and strategization a new dynamic organization is set to spearhead ICT development in the Customs and Border Management industry. Many will know it by its previous name TATIS or TATIScms. The Cape Town based IT outfit is responsible for the intuitive customs software solution which currently operates in Luxembourg Customs. Let it be known that this is one tough space to operate and succeed in.

Africa, in particular, has  suffered the stigma of UN and World Bank ‘freebies’ by way of customs automated solutions – designed and developed by the west, on western philosophy with little concern for the longer term sustainability and development on the African continent. Before the emergence of commercial Windows-based software, African states (and most developing countries for that matter) had little option but to adopt ASYCUDA. The French colonies in the main sought franco-developed SOFIX. Bull Computers were particularly strong in this space and received great support from the French government in their ventures.

Just as the ‘power’ of the west is waning under financial and political turmoil, so developmental states and economies are looking to their own resources and expertise to fulfil their needs and destinies. A similar phenomenon occurred in the border and port control security space during the first decade of the 21st century, where the Chinese have virtually stolen international market share in NII (Cargo scanning) equipment.  Therefore the emergence of InterFront on the Customs ICT scene is both unique and timely. For more details on the new company and its partners, solutions and expertise please visit their website: http://www.interfront.co.za. Also read their corporate and product profile brochure – click here!

This week, Interfront are show-casing their solution and expertise at the WCO‘s 2012 ICT Conference in Tallinn, Estonia. With the international customs and border management relatively young and seeking stability, Interfront have a great opportunity to develop a regional and international footprint. SARS, in particular, looks forward to its new integrated customs solution; setting a new bench mark in global customs processing.

Ports.co.za reports that Nigerian Customs Service has signed an agreement for the delivery of two 24 metre P249 patrol craft, which will use them to combat smuggling and piracy.The supplier is a Cape Town based outfit called Kobus Naval Design (KND). In the context of intra-Africa trade this deal should be considered a real scoop. Kobus Potgieter, CEO of Kobus Naval Design (KND), confirmed that his company had received the order and would deliver the vessels in ten months’ time. The aluminium vessels will be built in Cape Town. This will be the sixth KND designed vessel in the Nigerian waters delivered over the last couple of years. The company is also busy with a dive boat contract for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) also recently approved N1.7 billion (US$11 million) for the purchase of a Cessna Citation CJ4 aircraft for the Customs Service. The aircraft would be used for surveillance missions along Nigeria’s borders and would help combat economic sabotage and cross-border crimes. Alhaji Mohammed Dikko, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, said that his agency had already acquired the helicopters for surveillance of Nigeria’s borders and added that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the purchase of 400 Toyota Hilux vehicles for border patrol.

Border control is an increasingly important issue in Nigeria. Militant groups in the oil-producing Niger Delta have been illegally supplying weapons for years and Boko Haram is also believed to have received illegal arms, raising questions about border surveillance, especially after reports that weapons looted from Libya have turned up in Nigeria. Source: Ports.co.za and Defenceweb.co.za