HMRC

Delay to HMRC implementation of the Transitional Simplified Procedures

Freight operators have welcomed HMRC’s decision to delay implementation of the Transitional Simplified Procedures for customs (TSP) in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Announced in February, the TSP matches trader numbers against trailers and postpones payment of import duties – but only for ro-ro traffic.

TSP met with a fierce backlash from haulage operators who claimed the arrangements prioritised new applicants for authorisation, and forwarder association Bifa was particularly vocal in its disdain.

It seems this opposition has paid off, with the announcement confirming that supplementary customs declarations and associated payments will now not be required until 4 October.

Bifa director general Robert Keen said: “Having criticised HMRC when it originally published the TSP, we welcome today’s news.

“We also welcome the news that TSP will be available for any port or airport where goods are being brought into the UK from the EU, not just ro-ro ports.

“But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.”

Prior to amendments to the TSP, it appeared that the easements it had originally sought to implement would make it easier for new applicants than existing operators to obtain authorisation.

However, both Bifa and the FTA said it seemed the “equivalent liberalisation” was not in place for existing operators and forwarders.

Head of multimodal policy at the FTA Alex Veitch told The Loadstarfollowing the initial launch of TSP that it was a “dramatic simplification”, but needed to be expanded.

“The problem here is the TSPs only apply to shippers – we have confirmed this through HMRC – and shippers often have no control over how goods are transported,” he said.

“Forwarders may transport by air, container or unaccompanied trailer, meaning the shipper will have signed up for a TSP and then be required to go through full customs checks.

“There is the potential for shippers to be pushing for goods to go by ro-ro when other options are more suitable, which could create more delays.”

Mr Keen said that with the extended deadline, operators will have more time to make “necessary” preparations and fully test the systems that would be required.

Furthermore, he noted the extensions would make it possible to establish communication links along the supply chain and ensure “everyone” was aware of their responsibilities.

“This is a very significant easement of policy and one for which Bifa, amongst others, lobbied hard to ensure all modes were treated equally,” he continued.

“It should be noted that much confusion and effort could have been saved if government had consulted with the trade in the first place.

“By allowing freight forwarders to operate TSP, the extension recognises the critical role that the freight forwarder plays as an intermediary in the UK’s supply chain,” he said.

For more information on the implementation of Transitional Simplified Procedures please see our earlier news post here.

Source: The Loadstar

China flag

Faster speed and lower costs – why has the China-Europe rail line been such a success?

Increased speeds and falling costs could see the China-EU land bridge handle more freight, some 2m teu a year, while IMO 2020 has the opposite effect on sea freight.

Head of Russian Railways Oleg Belozyorov told delegates at the International Railway Congress in Vienna that new projects would boost transit times and create a better service for shippers.

“A few years ago, we could only speculate that around 600,000 containers would travel through Russia. Now, this has been achieved. We have seen an increase of an additional 30% on the previous year. We could reach 2m teu a year or more,” he said.

With trade between China and the EU worth some $5trn, Mr Belozyorov pointed out that the two economies were now connected via the land bridge – but the service could be improved, he believed.

Russian Railways plans to reduce transit time from China to the western border of Russia to seven days, while increasing the speed of the trains so they can cover 1,500km a day, up from 1,150, following the completion of infrastructure projects.

He added that construction of the 1,520mm gauge Košice-Bratislava-Vienna railway line would also add efficiencies.

“This project will bring the work of the railways to a new level,” said Mr Belozyorov. “We will try new technologies to speed up border crossings and unify legal issues. We need to focus our attention to ensure that it takes place as soon as possible.”

But he also called for “a unified regulatory framework”.

“Much has been done as part of the International Union of Railways, but more work is necessary. We need to quickly cross borders. We can cover long distances quickly, but the cargo sits at the border under customs clearance two whole days,” he said.

One way would be to increase training and add new technologies, he argued.

“We are accustomed to traditional railway professions, and we need to create new professions based on the use of new digital technologies. These will be the real railway workers of the future,” he said.

Another key aspect would be digital technologies,

“Tools such as blockchain and smart contracts can allow us to make decisions in a matter of seconds and save billions of dollars.”

Rail is gaining more traction in the market, with its combination of speed and price attracting some shippers. Last year, costs fell, while speed increased, according to a Drewry report.

2018 saw 370,000 teu transported by rail between China and the EU, up 35% on a year earlier. Some 75% of that was routed via Kazakhstan, with gross transit volumes up 59% as the number of trains grew as well as the number of containers per train. The imbalance also improved – there was a 90% increase in eastbound trains compared with a 37% increase in westbound trains.

Drewry also noted that the rates were less volatile than in ocean freight, and that costs had fallen.

Sea freight, meanwhile, is expected to see a significant rise in costs following the implementation of IMO 2020 fuel regulations, while ships are also expected to opt for more slow-steaming. Rail costs, however, will fall while speed increases.

bunker surcharge

CMA CGM and MSC announce Europe-Australia service

Ocean Alliance member CMA CGM and the 2M’s MSC are to jointly launch a service connecting northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Australia and South-east Asia.

The partnership will see the carriers upgrade their respective Nemo and Australia Express services with the deployment of significantly larger tonnage, and is set to launch in September, assuming regulatory approval.

MSC said the service would deploy 14 vessels of 9,500 teu and feature a port rotation of London Gateway-Rotterdam-Hamburg-Antwerp-Le Havre-Fos-La Spezia-Genoa-Gioia Tauro-Pointe des Galets-Port Louis-Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide-Fremantle-Singapore-Colombo-Valencia-Sines-London Gateway.

Nine vessels will be supplied by MSC and five by CMA CGM.

The service will represent a significant capacity upgrade for Australian shippers and consignees, particularly in Melbourne, where currently the largest vessels to call at the port are 8,000-8,900 teu on the Asia-Australia service operated by OCCL, Cosco and ANL, on which the vessels were upgraded from 5,500-6,000 teu last year.

“This new offer will feature an upgraded fleet and provide expanded port coverage through a better utilisation of hubs offering dedicated feeder services. With this unique offer, CMA CGM pursues its ambition to strengthen its direct service from Europe to the Indian Ocean Islands and Australia,” a statement from CMA CGM said.

Southbound from Europe the service will feature calls at Mediterranean hub ports for European exporters, as well as the Indian Ocean hub of Port Louis, while northbound will include calls at the transhipment hubs of Singapore and Colombo – the latter being a key gateway for exporters from the Indian subcontinent.

Source: The Loadstar

china usa

U.S. and China Near Deal That Could End Most U.S. Tariffs

The U.S. and China are close to a trade deal that could lift most or all U.S. tariffs as long as Beijing follows through on pledges ranging from better protecting intellectual-property rights to buying a significant amount of American products, two people familiar with the discussions said.

Chinese officials made clear in a series of negotiations with the U.S. in recent weeks that removing levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods quickly was necessary to finalize any deal, said the people, who weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the deliberations. That’s the amount the Trump administration imposed after China retaliated against the U.S.’s first salvo of $50 billion in tariffs that kicked off the eight-month trade war.

One of the remaining sticking points is whether the tariffs would be lifted immediately or over a period of time to allow the U.S. to monitor whether China is meeting its obligations, the people said. The U.S. wants to continue to wield the threat of tariffs as leverage to ensure China won’t renege on the deal, and only lift the duties fully when Beijing implemented all parts of the agreement.

As part of the ongoing talks, the U.S. asked the Chinese not to retaliate or bring World Trade Organization cases in response to U.S. tariffs that could be imposed to enforce the deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Stocks in Europe and Asia advanced on optimism about a deal, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rising 0.4 percent. The offshore yuan gained 0.2 percent.

Dates for a summit between President Donald Trump and counterpart Xi Jinping have yet to be agreed, according to officials from both countries who declined to be named. The Wall Street Journal, which reported earlier that the U.S. and China were close to finalizing a trade pact, reported the summit could happen around March 27.

Plans for a signing ceremony have been complicated by Xi’s need to lead China’s annual National People’s Congress and to make other foreign trips.

U.S. and Chinese officials “have conducted fruitful and intensive consultations and made important progress on many issues of common concern,” Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress, the annual session of China’s legislature, told reporters in Beijing on Monday. “We hope that the two sides will continue to hold consultations and reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement,” he added.

China’s Offer

China is offering to lower tariffs on U.S. farm, chemical, auto and other products, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation. Specifically, China would buy $18 billion in natural gas from Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc., one of the people familiar with the matter said.

As part of a deal, China is pledging to speed up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on auto ventures, and to reduce tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current rate of 15 percent, the newspaper reported.

A senior administration official cautioned on Sunday that a decision had not yet been made over lifting the U.S tariffs. The official also said a debate was continuing inside the administration with Trump unlikely to make a decision before a deal was closer to being done, likening to situation to the debate over what to do with U.S. sanctions in the lead-up to last week’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Asked during a congressional hearing last week whether a deal would see a lifting of U.S. tariffs, Robert Lighthizer, the China hawk now leading the talks with Beijing, would say only that was China’s desire.

Source: Bloomberg.com