APPLICATIONS FOR CHANGES IN CUSTOMS DUTIES
The following applications for changes in rates of customs duty were published in the past few weeks. Interested parties must submit comments to ITAC within 4 (four) weeks of the date the notice was first published unless otherwise stipulated.
Government Gazette 41270 – 2016-11-24
Note: Comments required by 8th December 2017.
Note: the current quota-based rebate permit system for importers will apparently continue.
NRCS: LOAs AND LEVIES
No product that is required to be compliant with a compulsory specification may be imported without certification by the NRCS (National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications) in the form of a Letter of Authority (LOA). The LOA is confirmation that the product has been proven to comply with the standards as laid down by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). It is the only acceptable proof of compliance when affected goods are imported.
Having a LOA is only half of the requirement: importers and manufacturers of affected products also have a liability to submit regular returns (in July and January) to the NRCS reflecting the quantities of affected products manufactured or imported, to calculate the levies due and to pay these monies to the NRCS.
The applicable forms for these returns and the rates for levies payable appear on the NRCS website. It is the responsibility of the importer/manufacturer when importing affected goods to ensure that the quantities are correctly reported and the relevant levies calculated and paid directly to the NRCS. Collection of the levies is not a function of SARS and has nothing to do with the payment of duties and other taxes.
THE YEAR OF THE EARTH-DOG
Next year's Chinese New Year or Spring Festival falls on Friday 16th February. In China the New Year is part of a week-long national holiday period or "Golden Week" starting with the eve of the spring festival on 15th February to the 21st. Most economic activity in the country will come to a halt during this period. Carriers will re-schedule their vessels to avoid the costs associated with the down time caused by being in port during the National Holiday. Bottle-necks and delays in cargo movements are likely immediately prior to and after the golden week which often result in transport capacity shortages and rising freight rates.
Chinese businesses often work over the weekends immediately before and after Golden Weeks to minimise production disruptions and catch up on backlogs. From a South African perspective, however, normal business will be suspended from 15th February to 21st February (inclusive).
All countries following the Chinese calendar will celebrate at least some of the days of the festival as public holidays and cargo delays/disruptions may be experienced throughout the Far East
In the year of the Earth-Dog South African importers could be somewhat unlucky by not finalising orders for cargo required in South Africa during the months February and March 2018 now. Space shortages are always experienced immediately prior to and after Golden Weeks; and is sometimes only available at a premium. Clients are urged to advise their Bidvest Panalpina Logistics office before closing for the summer holidays of their space requirements from the Far East during January and February 2018 so that space can be reserved.
We request that clients notify their local Bidvest Panalpina Logistics office as soon as possible of intended business holiday closures during the coming summer holiday season as soon as possible. This includes days on which these business premises will be closing early. Failure by clients to give notice of closed periods could result in their being held liable for futile trips where cargo cannot be delivered to them.
Clients are asked to note that Customs' offices may close early on 22nd and 29th December and that documents/instructions for all declarations to be submitted on those days must be received by Bidvest Panalpina Logistics in good time.
Bidvest Panalpina Logistics is not allowed by law to submit clearance declarations to customs on importers' behalf without full documentation and clearing instructions. Failure by importers to make provision for consignments arriving during the holiday period could result in additional storage charges accruing to the cargo, possible provisional seizure of the shipment by Customs, and also the possible imposition of penalties for late clearance.
Cleared cargo that cannot be delivered during the holiday period will be retained and delivered as soon as possible after businesses reopen in the New Year. Additional storage charges will apply where cargoes cannot be delivered during the holidays. Every effort will be made to comply with clients' delivery requirements when they re-open after the holidays, but no specific guarantees regarding date and time of delivery
are offered. Clients who require that their cargo be delivered to alternate addresses during their closed period must specifically include this requirement in their clearing instructions: Bidvest Panalpina Logistics is not permitted to deliver cargoes to alternate addresses without the specific written instruction of the owner(s).
Bonded or rebate cargoes may not be diverted to alternate addresses without the client's written instruction and the specific permission of the Customs authority.
Customs may under certain specific circumstances accept deposits ("provisional payments") to release cargo if an importer/exporter is unable at the time of clearance to comply with some requirements in of the Customs Act or Regulations. Provisional payments are accepted solely at the discretion of customs and are conditional on the circumstances for which the deposit is lodged being complied with in a specified period.
Any importer or exporter who fails to comply with the conditions of a provisional payment can lose their deposit and face the possibility of being penalised by SARS for non-compliance. Any penalty so raised counts against that importer/exporter's record of compliance.
Bidvest Panalpina Logistics reminds clients of outstanding provisional payments that are approaching expiry: the onus of meeting the conditions of provisional payments within their deadlines rests with the importer or exporter. All costs (including penalties) arising from an importer or exporter's failure to comply with the conditions of a provisional payment are for the account of that client.
We remind clients that the major European airfreight hubs at Frankfurt and Luxembourg are extremely congested as the Festive Season approaches. Both the German and Hessen Logistics associations have blamed cargo handlers and the Frankfurt Airport Authority (Fraport) for not having sufficient personnel to efficiently handle cargo moving through the facility. It has also been suggested that organised labour may be deliberately slowing processes as a bargaining tool in wage negotiations.
A large proportion of airfreight cargo destined for South Africa moves via this hub.
Delays of up to ten hours in the handover/acceptance of cargo by airlines are being experienced. This results in shipments missing flights and warehouses becoming congested with delayed cargo. It also means that vehicles become unavailable for pickups and deliveries.
Steps by Panalpina and others to ameliorate the situation, including diverting cargo via Luxembourg, have helped, but have also led to growing congestion there.
Whilst the airports seem to be coping with current demand any upsurge in either freight or passenger volumes, or the onset of bad weather, all of which are likely in the pre-Christmas and New Year periods, could radically change the situation without notice. There is also a threat of possible strike action by some cargo handlers at Frankfurt.
We urge clients to factor these possibilities into their purchasing processes and lead times over the coming months.
CUSTOMS SUFFICIENT KNOWLEDGE
SARS has begun prototype testing its proposed Customs Sufficient Knowledge examination system. The new Customs Act (Act 31 of 2014) mandates that all customs clients having custody of goods under customs control will have to employ at least two people who have passed this examination. Candidates who are successful in passing the exam will receive a certificate from SARS that is valid for 36-months, after which the test must be retaken.
Importers who have bond stores, rebate stores or other customs-licensed facilities will also eventually be required to comply with this requirement. The examination and certificate will be specific to the type/s of licence/s the client holds.
SARS is expected to start offering the exam to employees of affected clients during the first half of 2018, beginning with cargo carriers and cargo handling facilities.
This communication is published for general information and is not intended as professional advice of any kind. While every reasonable care has been taken to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the information contained herein, no liability or responsibility is accepted by Bidvest Panalpina Logistics or its employees for any damage or loss of any nature whatsoever resulting from the use or reliance upon this information.
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