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Europe

UK outlines new customs and border arrangements for 2021

The UK government has outlined a series of new customs and border arrangements for 2021, in which it has committed to a three-phase introduction of a series of changes for goods imported from the European Union (EU), to building new border facilities for carrying out required checks, and to providing targeted support to ports to build new infrastructure.

The UK government acknowledged that its previously announced plan to implement full border controls from 1 January on imports coming into GB from the EU was unrealistic, especially given the additional challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, noting: “Recognizing the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, and following the announcement in February that the UK would implement full border controls on imports coming into GB (Great Britain) from the EU, the UK has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021. This flexible and pragmatic approach will give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements.”

[Lloyd’s Loading List]

UK lawmakers back Brexit compromise to avoid ‘no deal’ chaos

UK lawmakers have urged Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier to broker a compromise to avoid an economically damaging ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario.

In a report published on Thursday (18 June), lawmakers on the UK parliament’s Future Relations committee called for both sides to compromise after three months of negotiating rounds which have delivered little progress on fisheries, governance and the so-called ‘level playing field’ on regulatory standards.

The Future Relations committee said that a compromise could be brokered “that takes as its starting point the de facto alignment of the UK and the EU when it comes to current rules and standards,” with future market access dependent on continued adherence to these standards.

Hilary Benn, who chairs the committee, said that “it has become increasingly clear that political leadership is needed if an agreement is to be reached in time to prevent the UK leaving the transition period on 31 December 2020 without an agreement.”

[Euractiv]

UK begins talks with Australia and New Zealand on free trade deal for post-Brexit era

Australia and New Zealand are about to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement with the UK in what the Australian trade minister said was “a strong signal of our mutual support for free trade” in a post-Covid-19 world.

Simon Birmingham said Australia was “ready to help the UK find new beginnings post-Brexit and in doing so, open up new doors for our farmers, businesses and investors”.

The UK is Australia’s seventh largest trading partner.

New Zealand’s trade minister, David Parker, echoed Birmingham’s sentiments.

“As the UK embarks on its next steps post-Brexit, New Zealand is pleased to be among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement with one of our oldest friends,” Parker said.

The UK is New Zealand’s sixth largest trading partner.

[The Guardian]

Brussels forges new weapons to shield EU market from China

The EU is seriously upping the ante in its drive to tackle unfair competition from China, the U.S. and other foreign players in the single market.

While welcomed by many seeking to protect the bloc’s interests against non-EU competitors, the new tools risk undermining the single market if not carefully designed, diplomats and experts warn.

The Commission says the tools would level the playing field in the single market, as European companies are already subject to similar rules.

“In recent years, foreign subsidies appear to have had an increasingly distortive impact on EU’s internal market,” according to the EU’s draft proposal, which cites an “increasing number of incidences in which foreign subsidies appear to have facilitated the acquisition of EU undertakings, influenced other investment decisions or have distorted the market behavior of their beneficiaries.”

[Politico]

EC backs global drive to facilitate trade in healthcare goods

The Commission’s ideas for an international initiative to facilitate trade in healthcare products were revealed by EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan in a conversation with the so-called “Ottawa Group” of World Trade Organization (WTO) partners after the first discussion among EU ministers on Monday (15 June).

The initiative addresses the ongoing international discussion on how to facilitate access to affordable pharmaceutical and medical goods and avoid trade disruptions in times of crisis, and could form part of an international agreement open to all WTO members.

Abolishing tariffs on pharmaceutical and medical goods, establishing a scheme of global cooperation in times of health crisis, covering issues such as import and export restrictions, customs and transit, public procurement and transparency are among the main pillars of the future agreement. For stronger global preparedness for future health shocks should be improved the current WTO rules applicable to trade in essential goods.

[Europost]

Modernization of EU-Chile agreement likely to have positive economic, environmental and social impacts

On 18 June, the European Commission published a Position Paper and Final report on the Sustainability Impact Assessment in support of negotiations for the modernization of the trade part of the EU–Chile Association Agreement. The paper sets out the European Commission services’ position on the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) on the modernization of the Trade Part of the EU–Chile Association Agreement. The SIA was commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade and was carried out by the independent consultancy company BKP Research and Consulting, together with the Catholic University of Valparaiso (Centro Vincular). The study was completed in May 2019 and has fed and continues to feed directly into the negotiations.

[European Commission]

 

Middle East

Saudi Arabia: Increased customs duties effective 20 June 2020

Saudi Arabia Council of Ministers announced an increase to the rates of customs duties, effective 20 June 2020.

The customs duties rate increases the range from 0.5% to 15%.

A full list of new duty rates can be found on the Saudi Customs website. Briefly, imported products affected by the customs duty rate increase include dairy and food products, chemicals, plastic, rubber, leather, paper, clothes, shoes, fabrics, marble, ceramics, porcelain, glass, various metals, furniture, and machinery.

[KPMG]

Al Madina Logistics launches handling ops at Mazunah port in Oman

Al Madina Logistics Services Company has launched handling operations at Mazunah Dry Port in Al Mazunah Free Zone, one of the affiliates of Oman-based Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn).

The operations relate to container handling, refrigerated containers, and incoming and outgoing consignments which are re-exported through Mazunah Dry Port, Madayn said in a statement.

Inspection, clearance, handling and release operations will take place at the assigned inspection areas at the dry port, and all the consignments must pass through the port to complete these operations, it added.

The company will welcome all the importers, exporters and traders at an assigned hall at the dry port according to the procedures followed in this context. The service fees collected from importers, exporters and others will be through the use of an electronic payment system using bank cards approved by the Omani banks and the approved international credit cards.

[Zawya]

 

Africa

Government study projects 50% growth in e-commerce in Egypt amid COVID-19

A policy paper by the Institute of National Planning (INP) has found that the demand for e-commerce in Egypt has increased due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The study, entitled “The possible repercussions of the Corona crisis on the Egyptian economy”, found a commensurate recession in traditional shopping methods. This has particularly been the case with the state-imposed precautionary measures in place to prevent the virus’ spread.

With the spread of the virus and the precautionary measures, Egyptian consumer habits changed exponentially, with the volume of e-commerce expected to increase by at least 50% in the coming period.

The study added that the spread of the coronavirus and the measures set up to curb its spread has been a watershed moment for local and global e-commerce. With a large number of consumers staying at home, there has been a significant increase in demand for e-commerce.

The growth of e-commerce has contributed to increased demands on other activities, such as shipping and delivery companies, and electronic payment systems. The fear of transmitting infection through cash exchanges has caused a recovery in online payments that had previously only seen significant use in online purchases.

The study also called for the enactment of legal, customs and tax legislation to regulate financial transactions in e-commerce systems. At the same time, this would encourage banks to establish a sophisticated system that accepts e-commerce transactions and adopts electronic payment systems. It would also see the adoption of an electronic signature system, and adding an electronic stamp service, which allows the expansion in use of e-signatures.

[Daily News Egypt]