South Africa – WCO ESA Regional Workshop on TFA implementation

ESA_Regional-WS_South-AfricaThe WCO Regional Workshop on Strategic Initiatives for Trade Facilitation and the Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) – Mercator Programme – for the WCO East and Southern Africa (ESA) region was held from 15 to 17 September 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was hosted by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) representing the WCO Vice Chair of the ESA region, and financially supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. More than 100 participants from 21 ESA Members (Customs, Trade Ministries/equivalent Ministries), the WTO and other international organizations, development partners and the private sector participated in the event.

The Workshop was opened by the Commissioner of SARS, Mr. Thomas Moyane. He expressed his view that the WCO Mercator Programme created significant conditions for contributing to intra-African as well as international trade facilitation benefits. As Vice Chair of the ESA region, he hoped that the Workshop could recommend immediate actions for the region.

The Workshop raised a lot of interest and active discussions from a variety of well-prepared and informative presentations, including the role of the WCO in TFA implementation;  TFA regulations such as Article 23.2 on National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) and specific national and (sub-)regional examples of implementation approaches; experiences of Trade Ministries and several partner institutions active in the region; and discussions on further approaches to Capacity Building and TFA implementation, including in cooperation with Development Partners.

The region agreed on next steps forward, including on a regional focus on the establishment and maintenance of NCTFs (for instance further provision of replies to the respective WCO survey; identification of the situation within ESA Members); reporting the outcomes of the Workshop to the ESA Regional Steering Committee; encouragement of ESA Members who are not yet Contracting Parties to the Revised Kyoto Convention to accede to it as soon as possible (and/or to identify related Capacity Building needs) – as one concrete way to also support TFA implementation; and responsibility of the ROCB and the Vice Chair to continue collecting and publishing information on ongoing Capacity Building projects and work of partner organizations such as SADC, COMESA, SACU and UNCTAD especially in the TF(A) area in the region – while encouraging Members and partner organizations to share such information.

The Workshop was successfully concluded with positive feedback from Members, partner organizations and development partners. A summary document on the discussions held during the Workshop is currently under finalization by the Vice Chair’s office and the ROCB and will be circulated to all participants of the Workshop in due course. Source: WCO

WCO News – February 2015 Edition

WCO News - Coordinated Border Management Feb 2015Check out the latest WCO News – per usual a wealth of interesting customs and supply chain information:

  • WCO launches IRIS, an application exploiting open source information
  • Harmonized System amendments effective from 1 January 2017
  • Beginning the CBM process: the Botswana experience
  • Inter-institutionality – a distinctive feature of the Colombian AEO model
  • WCO Data Model: the bridgehead to connectivity in international trade
  • Implementing New Zealand’s Joint Border Management System

and a whole lot more…

Source: WCO

Finnish Customs intercepted arms shipment on route to Ukraine

Tulli+KokkolaFinnish customs has intercepted a shipment of arms on its way to Ukraine, it said on Friday, with a Finnish newspaper saying it consisted of missile system parts.

The customs said it had stopped a shipment of “defense materials” at the Helsinki Airport in late June. Daily Helsingin Sanomat said the air cargo consisted of a large number of parts used to steer missiles.

“They were defense materials on the way to Ukraine,” Sami Rakshit, head of enforcement at Finnish customs told Reuters. “They did not have the required permits.”

The air shipment was only passing through Helsinki airport when the customs discovered it, the daily said. The newspaper did not know the country of origin of the shipment, saying it came from the Far East. Customs would not comment.

The customs is investigating who the intended recipient in Ukraine was, Rakshit said

Finnish military is aiding customs in investigating the exact use for the parts of the missile system.Source: Reuters (contributed by Zarina Taylor)

Commercial seal equivalent to official seal in unperformed cargo safety checks

Cargo seal inspection - (Picture: www.recolor.com)

Cargo seal inspection – (Picture: http://www.recolor.com)

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)