Sandra Strong reports on new developments in Customs & Excise legislation.

September 2014

Exports

EU to remove all sanctions on Zimbabwe this year

According to an EU official, the EU will remove its sanctions on Zimbabwe this year. EU delegation ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, said the “last step” in the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU will be complete this year: “The European Council has unanimously decided that considering that there are no major disruptions to the democratic process in Zimbabwe...”

Restrictive measures are expected to be removed by 1 November 2014.

New CPC for export under ATA Carnet

ATA Carnets may be used to temporarily import or temporarily export goods from the UK. The carnet replaces the normal customs declaration. Where the ATA Carnet is used at an inventory linked port/airport in the UK, a C21 form must also be completed quoting the correct Customs Procedure Code (CPC). Currently the code for items being exported is 10 00 041 — this will change to 10 00 052 with effect from 1 December 2014.

Extension to the ATA Carnet Scheme

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad and Tobago are preparing to implement the ATA Carnet Scheme for temporary movements within 2014 under the so-called Istanbul Convention to facilitate customs administration in relation to temporary admissions on professional equipment and for demonstrations and exhibitions.

Further updates are expected in November 2014.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia Customs Union update — Technical Regulations

It has been announced that the scope of products that are to conform to Technical Regulations (TRs) in the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be increased. This is an ongoing programme until 2015. Regulations on personal protection equipment, perfumery and cosmetics, packaging safety, products for children, toys and light industry products are now affected. There are transition periods before the Technical Regulations become effective as follows.

  • On personal protection equipment, toys, packaging and products intended for children and teenagers: since February 2014.

  • On perfumery and cosmetic products, and light industry products: since July 2014.

New controls will continue throughout 2014–2015.

Russia/Ukraine sanctions

In response to Russia’s continued efforts to destabilise Eastern Ukraine, the USA and EU continue to expand their coordinated sanctions regimes against Russia.

The latest measures, which took effect on 6 August 2014, are designed to deepen and strengthen existing economic sanctions and target the Russian financial, energy, and defence sectors. The sanctions have been extended to the prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer or export of dual-use items, and the provision of technical assistance, financing and financial assistance, and brokering services related to the sale, supply, etc of dual-use items, to the nine entities listed in Annex IV of the regulation. There are exemptions for the aeronautics and space industry for non-military use and non-military end-users and for the maintenance and safety of existing civil nuclear capabilities within the EU. This is in addition to the controls on exports into the oil and gas sectors published on 7 August 2014.

Overall, the US and EU sanctions regimes in response to the Ukraine crisis have been characterised by an incremental, step-by-step intensification and increased isolation of key sectors of the Russian economy. Moreover, recent sanctions show a willingness to expand measures into new sectors despite the potential impact on US and EU businesses.

US Export Control Reform: military electronics

As part of the President's Export Control Reform effort, the US Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls is amending the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to revise US Munitions List (USML) Category XI (Military Electronics). The US departments of State and Commerce in July 2014 published final rules that transfer to the Commerce Control List “military electronics, technology and software for certain wing folding systems, certain superconducting and cryogenic equipment, and related items from the Munitions List (USML)”.

This rule is effective on 30 December 2014.

UK exports under OGELS/OIELS

All users of Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs), Open Individual Trade Control Licences (OITCLs), Open General Trade Control Licences (OGTCLs) and Open General Export Licences (OGELs) (with some exceptions) must make annual reports to the Export Control Organisation of the Department for Business Innovation & Skills regarding their actual usage of these open licences.

Note: Does not apply to all OGELS. The OGELs requiring this annual report were reissued on 6 or 8 January 2014.

The first reporting period is 12 months from 1 January 2014, so the first report is due 1 January 2015.

Extending NCTS to Macedonia

The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) is the common transit procedure used for the movement of goods between the 28 EU Member States, the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and Turkey. Due to its candidate member status, the NCTS is officially in use for shipments made within Macedonia. The NCTS has been operating in Macedonia since 1 March 2014 and was extended to TIR Carnets on 1 June 2014.

Imports

UK tariff quota contact

For an initial period of six months, the facility to contact the Customs Quota Team by telephone is withdrawn. Those seeking information about tariff quotas should, in the first instance, refer to the EUROPA website. The database for tariff quota on the EUROPA website displays the balances of each tariff quota applicable in the current year as well as those in the past year. It also displays other important information, such as the date when a particular tariff quota is exhausted. Additional queries about whether a particular claim for quota was successful should be addressed to the tariff quota team using the email address in the contact section.

This came into effect 1 July 2014, initially until 1 February 2015.

REX System to replace EUR1 Forms and invoice declaration

It is proposed to replace the current proofs of preferential origin — GSP Forms A, EUR1 Certificates and Invoice Declarations (for exports from the EU under the bilateral cumulation arrangements) —with statements of origin issued by registered exporters on documents which can be transmitted and stored electronically. These could be used to create the Registered Exporter (REX) System, a database of Registered Exporters. The European Commission will maintain a central database of all exporters registered in the EU and this will be available to the public on the internet.

The effect of this change is under discussion, but the potential due date is 1 January 2017.

June 2014

Exports

Bahrain joins ATA Carnet system

Bahrain is the 84th country/territory to join the ATA Carnet system and only the second in the Middle East. It will only be accepting ATA Carnets for Exhibitions and Fairs.

Some things to be aware of:

  • Carnets are not accepted for unaccompanied goods.

  • Carnet entries may be restricted to six months.

  • Carnets are accepted for transit operations.

  • Carnets are not accepted for postal traffic.

  • Bahrain does not allow partial or split shipments. Any shipment entering Bahrain must be re-exported in its entirety.

  • Bahrain Customs will only process Carnets from Saturday to Thursday 7am to 7pm.

EU–China sign Mutual Recognition Agreement

The EU and China have completed the MRA, which means that Customs Authorities will recognise each other's certified safe traders — in other words AEO-approved businesses — which will mean that these companies can benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance. If you trade with China this could be time to look at becoming an AEO-approved business.

Two other important initiatives were also signed. The first is a new Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation, which defines ambitious priorities and objectives for EU–China collaboration in this field. Key areas of focus for the coming years will be trade facilitation, supply chain security and fighting counterfeit and illicit trade. There is also a new EU–China Action Plan on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that aims to improve the clamp-down on counterfeit goods by intensifying EU–China co-operation, communication and co-ordination in this field.

Effective from 28 May 2014.

EU to remove all sanctions on Zimbabwe

According to an EU official, the EU will remove its sanctions on Zimbabwe this year. EU delegation ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, said the "last step" in the normalization of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU will be complete this year. Restrictive measures are expected to be removed 1 November 2014.

New Export Control Amendment

The Export Control (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2014 (S.I. 2014 No.1069) came into force on 17 May 2014. The amending Order makes a number of changes to Schedule 2 to the main order, which lists military goods, software and technology subject to export controls. These changes reflect an update to the EU Common Military List that in turn has been amended following agreement in the export control regime known as the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). The changes in Schedule 2 can be found in the following entries, ML1, ML2, ML6, ML10, ML11 and ML22 Effective from 17th May 2014.

Extending NCTS to Macedonia

The New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) is the common transit procedure, used for the movement of goods between the 28 EU Member States, the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and Turkey. Due to its candidate member status, the NCTS is officially in use for shipments made within Macedonia, and has been operating there since 1 March 2014.

Extension to the ATA Carnet Scheme — update

Indonesia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad & Tobago are preparing to implement the ATA Carnet Scheme for temporary movements within 2014, under the so-called Istanbul Convention, to facilitate customs administration in relation to temporary admissions on professional equipment and for demonstrations and exhibitions.

Bahrain to accept and issue Carnets from 1 June 2014, further updates due September 2014.

Russia/Ukraine sanctions — update

The EU and USA have imposed additional, targeted sanctions on certain Russian government officials and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, expanding upon previously announced US and EU Ukraine-related sanctions. In addition, President Obama’s administration imposed additional restrictive measures on exports that “could contribute” to Russia’s military capabilities.

Effective from end of April 2014.

EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

Seven rounds of talks have now been completed (seventh ended 21 March 2014). Vietnam wants to conclude the agreement October 2014 when the president is visiting Brussels. Last two rounds scheduled for May 2014 and September 2014.

Update due September 2014.

Imports

UK Tariff Quota contact

For an initial period of six months, the facility to contact the Customs Quota Team by telephone is withdrawn. Those seeking information about tariff quotas should, in the first instance, refer to the EUROPA website. The database for tariff quota on the EUROPA website displays the balances of each tariff quota applicable in the current year as well as those in the past year. It also displays other important information, such as the date when a particular tariff quota is exhausted. Additional queries about whether a particular claim for quota was successful should be addressed to the tariff quota team via email.

With effect 1 July 2014 initially until 1 February 2015.

EU–Economic Partnership Agreements

The deadline for countries to sign the EPA with the EU draws nearer without conclusion. If the countries listed below do not sign the EPA by end of October 2014 they will lose EPA preference. This will mean an increase in duty rates on imports from Fiji, Haiti and Kenya as they will not qualify for GSP or any other EU preference scheme.

The EPA countries are: Burundi; Botswana; Ivory Coast; Cameroon; Fiji; Ghana; Haiti; Kenya; Comoros (excluding Mayotte); Lesotho; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia.

The EPA must be signed by 1 October 2014.

Inward Processing: new C&E812 i-form — update

HMRC has issued a new IP Suspension return form (Bill of Discharge – C&E812) which is an i-form. It must be used for IP returns as soon as possible and it replaces the paper C&E812 immediately.

Use required from 1 May 2014.

The use of paper C&E812 ends 31 July 2014.

General

EU sugar reform

The EU will introduce a revised sugar regime which will eliminate all production restrictions for overseas competitors in the beet and isoglucose sectors, though it will maintain strict import quotas on raw sugar for European refiners. There are concerns about this change to the sugar regime.

Due October 2017.

EU FTA with ASEAN — update

After the successful conclusion to the FTA between EU and Singapore the EU is continuing talks with other members of ASEAN. This is one of the larger EU agreements under negotiation and will progress slowly through the member countries. ASEAN are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Burma/Myanmar and Cambodia.

  • Final Agreement with Singapore in place September 2013.

  • Vietnam had the seventh Round of talks in April, and the agreement could be resolved by end of 2014. At a meeting in March 2014, the EU prioritised implementing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) it has signed with Vietnam, increasing its official development assistance for Vietnam in 2014–2020.

  • Thailand: negotiations continue. Thailand loses GSP access to the EU 1 January 2015.

  • Malaysia: the negotiations were paused in 2012 due to a general election and deferred due to Malaysian negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TTPA). EU negotiations were expected to restart in 2014, especially as Malaysia will lose GSP status in 2014.

Update expected August 2014.

May 2014

Exports

EU–Ukraine Association Agreement update

Friday 21 March 2014 saw the signing of the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement (suspended in November 2013 due to political pressure in Ukraine). The signing ceremony came as Russian President Vladimir Putin formally signed the annexation of Crimea, having secured backing in both chambers of the Russian legislature. In addition, on 6 March 2014, the European Commission adopted a proposal for temporarily removing customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU “to help stabilise Ukraine’s economy with a package of measures”.

The trade agreement is expected May 2014. Temporary removal of customs duties ends 1 November 2014.

China–EU AEO Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)

The MRA between EU Authorised Economic Operators and China’s similarly approved companies is close to being agreed. This will give supply chain advantages to both EU and Chinese AEO-approved companies, with a consequent reduction of inspections and paperwork queries.

Expected September 2014.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia Customs Union update

Update now due August 2014 (revised from June 2014).

EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

Seven rounds completed (seventh ended 21 March 2014). Vietnam wants to conclude the agreement in October 2014 when the president is visiting Brussels. The last two rounds are scheduled for May 2014 and September 2014.

EU–Japan Free Trade Agreement

Four rounds of talks complete, fifth round started April 2014, with excellent progress. Final draft expected early 2015.

General

EU–Mercosur Free Trade Agreement update

Talks resumed in January 2013 and good progress has been made, but even though Brazil is supportive no developments should be expected until April 2015, which may only be the draft FTA.

Draft agreement 2015, finalised 2019 (current estimate).

EU–USA Free Trade Agreement update

FTA expected 2015 but not in force until 2016. Update due November 2014.

AEO criterion on practical standards of competence or professional qualifications update

Expected 2015–2016 in the UK.

Last reviewed 1 October 2014