India – Customs introduces ‘self-sealing’ export container procedure

Customs_&_Central_Excise_DKBThe Indian Customs department (CBEC) has allowed self-sealing procedure as of 1 October for containers to be exported, as it aims to move towards a ‘trust based compliance environment’ and trade facilitation for exporters.

In a circular to all Principal Chief Commissioners, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said exporters who were availing facility of sealing at the factory premises under the supervision of customs authorities will be automatically entitled for self-sealing facility.

It said that permission once granted for self-sealing at an approved premise will remain valid unless withdrawn. However, in case of change in the premise, a fresh approval from Customs department will be required.

“The new self-sealing procedure shall come into effect from October 1, 2017. Till then the existing procedure shall continue,” the CBEC said.

It asked field officers to notify a Superintendent-rank officer to act as the nodal officer for the self-sealing procedure.

The officer will be responsible for coordination of the arrangements for installation of reader-scanners.

Earlier in July, the CBEC had said it will introduce the system of self-sealing by 1 September , as against the practise of sealing of containers under the supervision of revenue officials.

However, the CBEC now said that exporters can self-seal containers using the tamper proof electronic seals from 1 October 2017.

Under the new procedure, the exporter will have to declare the physical serial number of the e-seal at the time of filing the online integrated shipping bill or in the case of manual shipping bill before the container is dispatched for the port.

The exporters will directly procure RFID seals from vendors.

“In case, the RFID seals of the containers are found to be tampered with, then mandatory examination would be carried out by the Customs authorities,” the CBEC said.

From October 1, the exporters will need to furnish e-seal number, date of sealing, time of sealing, destination customs station for export, container number and trailer track number to the customs authorities.

In a circular in July, the CBEC had said it endeavours to create a trust based environment where compliance with laws is ensured by strengthening risk management system and Intelligence setup of the department.

Accordingly, CBEC has decided to lay down a simplified procedure for stuffing and sealing of export goods in containers. Source: The India Times > Economic Times, 5 September 2017.

Commercial seal equivalent to official seal in unperformed cargo safety checks

Cargo seal inspection - (Picture:

Cargo seal inspection – (Picture:

Finland – Recent criminal proceedings in which a driver was accused of neglecting to control the cargo security of a trailer which he had picked up from the port of Vuosaari, have been set aside by the Helsinki Appeal Court. When Customs conducted a safety inspection of the cargo, it was found that the cargo had not been secured properly. It was undisputed that the insufficient securing of the cargo could not be seen from outside, and that the driver had checked the trailer, but the trailer had been sealed with the transport company’s seal.

The court first considered whether the transport company’s commercial seal overruled the duty to carry out a cargo safety check. The expert witness testified before the Helsinki District Court that according to the Road Traffic Act, a ‘seal’ is only an official Customs seal (subject to the TIR Convention), and that the term does not include the commercial seals used by transport companies. However, the district court found that a ‘seal’ is not defined in the Road Traffic Act or its preparatory work, and the term thus includes commercial seals. It went on to determine whether checking the cargo could have caused unreasonable harm or delay. The driver stated that pursuant to the employer’s instructions, a cargo unit must never be opened alone; two people must always be present. The district court found that it was not proved that opening the trailer would not have caused unreasonable harm or delay to the transport assignment, and hence the driver had done his best. The criminal charges against the driver were rejected.

The proceedings before the Helsinki Appeal Court were limited to the first question – the definition of the seal. The appeal court found no reason to change the district court’s judgment. The appeal court judgment is final. It is quite common that a driver is assigned to pick up a transport unit which is already loaded, secured and, on many occasions, also sealed. Under these circumstances the driver has no means to carry out cargo safety checks from anywhere other than outside of the transport unit. Source: International Law Office & Hammarström Puhakka Partners, Attorneys (Finland)


Comesa adopts IT system to boost trade in the region

Workers offload imported sugar at the port of Mombasa. Comesa has already gazetted transit goods routes, which have been geo-fenced and trucks following these routes will be monitored. Photo/File  Nation Media Group

Workers offload imported sugar at the port of Mombasa. Comesa has already gazetted transit goods routes, which have been geo-fenced and trucks following these routes will be monitored. Photo/File Nation Media Group

A new online system being implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trading bloc is expected to cut down non-tariff barriers, reduce the cost of doing business and improve intra-regional trade.

The $1 million (Sh84 million) system – which is being developed by Comesa and funded by the European Union – could for instance cut transport costs by up to 40 per cent, Comesa secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said.

With three main modules – Transit Bonds, Risk Management and Cargo Tracking — the Comesa Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS) aims at integrating systems used by regional revenue authorities, transporters, shippers, clearing agents, ports and customs to provide real-time information and facilitate uninterrupted movement of goods across borders.

Besides tracking cargo from origin to destination, the system will facilitate management of transit bonds and capture electronic data contained in the customs seal and assign this information to customs offices at various transit points.

Comesa has already gazetted transit goods routes which have been geo-fenced and trucks following these routes will be monitored. In case seals are tampered with, owners will automatically be notified via Short Message Services (SMSs) or email. Owners who register their trucks with the system will display a ‘Comesa Transit’ plate on their vehicles.

Delays along the major transport corridors arising from lengthy procedures at weight control points and police road blocks within the region have been identified as major non-tariff barriers hindering trade.

Mr Charles Muita, a member of the team that worked on the system and who made the presentation, said they expected most of the countries where industry players do not have their own systems to quickly adopt CVTFS. “The system does not intend to replace the ones used by member countries but would integrate them to achieve a seamless flow of information and documentation,” Mr Ngwenya said during the sensitisation at the Mombasa Beach Hotel.

Truckers buy the fleet management system at Sh24,000 and pay an average of Sh2,000 management fee per month.“We are not interested in making money with the system and the initial cost of the gadget will be less than Sh12,000 and a monthly management fee of about $3 (Sh255),” explained Mr Ngwenya.

The sensitisation in Comesa member states aims at getting volunteers for a free pilot project that will run for three months starting next month. Source: Business Daily