31 Aug 2018
APPLICATIONS FOR CHANGES IN CUSTOMS DUTIES
The following applications for changes in rates of customs duty were published in the past month. Interested parties must submit comments to ITAC within 4 (four) weeks of the date the notice was first published unless otherwise stipulated.
Government Gazette 41839 – 2018.08.17
Jebi, a category 1 storm currently located near the Pacific's Northern Mariana archipelago is expected to veer towards Japan, possibly affecting the ports of Osaka and Tokyo during the first week in September. If this occurs, cargo movements from these ports could be delayed.
Jebi is not expected to affect Taiwanese or Chinese ports.
SARS PROPOSES ANTI-FORESTALLING MEASURES
Changes in excise taxes are usually implemented from the time that these are announced in Parliament or from the date of publication in the Government Gazette.
In recent years the Minister of Finance has given advance notice of major increases in his annual budget. Duties and excise taxes are paid at the rate applicable on the day of payment; importers and cargo owners have taken advantage of the advance notice period to clear cargo through customs or out of bond immediately prior to increases being implemented.
An amendment to the Customs and Excise Act contained in the Tax Administration Act Amendment Bill, 2018, Section 8(1), proposes giving SARS the right to limit the amount of cargo that an entity may clear in anticipation of such an increase. Termed an "anti-forestalling measure" the proposed new Section 58A of the Customs & Excise Act, 1964 will restrict the ability of importers to make strategic commercial decisions in their supply chain by permitting the tax authority to throttle the flow of goods to consumers in anticipation of collecting additional tax.
PROPOSED CHEMICAL BAN
The Department of Environmental Affairs has proposed phasing out the import, export possession and use of the following chemicals by the end of December 2021:
Affected parties will be required register with and submit a phase-out plan to the department on promulgation of the final regulation (Gazette 41790 24/7/2018).
WESTERN EUROPEAN DROUGHT
This year's hot, dry summer in Europe has resulted in many of the continent's waterways being at very low levels. In Western Europe river traffic is an important part of the transport chain: many containers move to and from the ports by barge. If water levels fall movements by barge to/from the ports are badly affected and must then be diverted to road or rail.
This is currently the case: additional demand for road and rail transport has caused a shortage of drivers and trucks for containers and also increased the demand for rail services. The result is that delays in arranging transport at Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg or Bremen have increased to between two and three weeks.
Low-level surcharges are being applied to barge traffic because of the capacity constraints caused by the drought, whilst road and rail rates are trending higher.
Clients are warned to expect additional lead times and higher costs in moving export cargo to South Africa.
The collapse of Genoa's Morandi Bridge has not only affected traffic passing through Genoa but has sharply impacted access to the port. The bridge collapsed on to the rail link to the SECH terminal: this link has been closed until further notice. This line connects the port with industries in Milan and further north; all movements to/from the SECH terminal must use now use surface streets, which will become increasingly congested as the summer holidays end.
Clients should allow for extended waiting times and delays in supply chain planning when moving cargo through the port of Genoa.
NATIONAL REGULATOR FOR COMPULSORY SPECIFICATIONS (NRCS)
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) sets technical specifications for products that can be hazardous to users: the NRCS, a division of the Department of Trade and Industry, has responsibility for ensuring that non-compliant products do not enter the South African market. The only acceptable proof of compliance for an affected product is a specific Letter of Authority (LOA) issued by the NRCS. LOAs, along with all other types of permits, are standard shipping documents in terms of Customs regulations.
Customs queries any imported item that may require a LOA and will only release such cargo on sight of the LOA or adequate proof that one is not required. As a guide any 220v a.c. electrical product that can be used at home, at the office, shop or other workplace requires a LOA. Some d.c. electrical products apparently also require a LOA on import.
The SABS specification closely follows the equivalent European specification. This latter specification was amended during 2017 to include equipment with an input or output of 75v d.c. or more, up to 1500v d.c. It is not clear whether the South African specification has been amended as well. Requests to the NRCS for clarification as to whether battery-powered equipment now requires an LOA have been fruitless: importers of battery-powered equipment should verify on a case by case basis whether their products require an LOA or not by submitting photos and specification sheets to the electro-technical division of the NRCS for comment.
Before ordering affected products Importers must make sure that they have the necessary LOAs. The LOA should specify all brand names and model numbers (including variations) under which the product may be imported. If invoice details and the LOA do not match the LOA is not valid.
Importers must register and apply for LOA's directly with the NRCS. Clearing agents are not permitted to carry out this function for importers.
The turn-around time for issuing a LOA is given as being up to 120 days but is apparently often exceeded.
Importers should note that the decision to release products queried by the NRCS rests solely with them and not SARS-Customs.
FAR EAST FREIGHT RATES UP AGAIN
Several carriers have announced General Increases in their rates to South Africa from the Far East to be implemented during September. Increases announced so far are in the region of US $300/TEU.
SCRAP METAL EXPORTS
The 2013 Policy Directive on the sale and export of scrap metals is due to expire shortly. The department of Economic Development has proposed extending the directive for a further nine months pending a final review and decision whether it should be extended, modified or replaced. (Government Gazette 41836, 14th August 2018).
HERITAGE OBJECTS AND ANTIQUES
The export of "Heritage Objects" – even on a temporary basis – is controlled by the Department of Arts and Culture through the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and is subject to permits issued by SAHRA. SAHRA has published a draft list of defined items for public comment (Government Gazette 41854, 24th August 2018). The list includes works of art, items of historic, cultural or scientific/technological significance as well as furniture and furnishings that are more than 100 years old or that have been in South Africa for more than a hundred years.
Comments must be received by 23rd October.
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