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EU-Mercosur deal divides both sides of the Atlantic

The EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) signed a free trade agreement that will cover a market of 780 million consumers. However, diverging opinions on both sides of the Atlantic remain.
After 20 years of heavy negotiations and bargaining, the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement will allow European companies to save €4 billion in customs duties each year.
For European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, this is the most significant trade agreement in the EU’s history. His potential successor, Ursula von der Leyen, called it “exemplary”.
Despite the joy expressed by South American presidents and several European leaders, many sectors of activity on both sides of the Atlantic are not happy with this free trade agreement.

US launches unfair trade practices probe of French tech tax

The Trump administration will probe whether France’s planned “digital services” tax is an unfair trade practice that targets U.S. tech giants, a warning shot that could eventually result in tariffs or other retaliatory measures.
“The President has directed that we investigate the effects of this legislation and determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement Wednesday (10 July).
The dispute has been simmering for months as France and other countries contemplate taxes on services offered by Google, Facebook, Amazon and other companies.


Middle East

Norms relaxed for bonded warehouse operators in Oman

The new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for bonded warehouse operators relaxes the control requirements thereby allowing warehouse keepers to work more independently with less direct involvement by the Customs.
For example, warehouse keepers are now allowed to store bonded and non-bonded goods in the same space, provided the warehouse keeper’s information system can effectively identify and manage goods.
The SOP includes the idea of providing multiple bonded and non-bonded related services under a single roofline, such as consolidation and deconsolidation of goods, alongside warehousing. Operators are allowed to undertake “normal” operations, without the day to day presence of customs officers. These include the locking and unlocking of perimeter fences and buildings and the sealing or unsealing of transport units. Goods may be stored in bonded warehouses for up to three years.
[Times of Oman]

Dubai Customs explores more mutual trade with Saudi Arabia

Dubai Customs has explored means to enhance cooperation with Saudi Arabia during a meeting between Director-General of the department Ahmed Mahboob Musabih and Abdul Hadi Mahammed Al-Shafi, the Saudi Consul-General in Dubai.
The two discussed means of boosting cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Dubai especially in bilateral trade and customs business.
An Authorized Economic Operator, AEO, mutual recognition agreement has recently been signed between the UAE and Saudi Arabia to help reduce clearance time to minimum and boost mutual trade between the two sides. Saudi Arabia is Dubai’s biggest trade partner in the Gulf and in the Arab World, and the 4th internationally.


African leaders launch ‘historic’ deal to create new free-trade zone

African leaders met on July 7 to launch a continental free-trade zone that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
After four years of talks, an agreement to form a 55-nation trade bloc was reached in March, paving the way for July 7’s African Union summit in Niger.
It is hoped that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994, will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.
[Hurriyet Daily News]