Port of Cork Developments Power Ahead

Speaking at the IEA Supply Chain Workshop held in Cork on 15th June, Port of Cork Commercial Manager, Captain Michael McCarthy, welcomed the granting of the final planning permissions by An Bord Pleanala that will facilitate the development of the deep-water facility at Ringaskiddy. Following the completion of the development the Port plans to re-locate the container services from the Tivoli location and general cargo from the City Quays area. Container capacity at the port will be doubled and feeder and other lines will be able to operate larger and more economical vessels on their Cork services.

Capt. McCarthy also told the meeting that the Port now has a majority interest in the former IFI location at Marino Point. Current plans will see this location being developed so as to facilitate the berthing and discharging of Bulk vessels. The facility is rail linked and the Port’s plans include the redevelopment of the railhead within the terminal area so that this mode can be effectively used to ship cargo to any Irish location.

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Transport Department Initiates “Land bridge” Study

As part of its Brexit preparations the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has confirmed that it has commissioned the preparation of a study and report on the British Land bridge. The study will seek to determine the likely effects of Brexit on the quick and competitive flows of goods to and from Ireland. It will also seek to give guidance to Department on the steps that it and other Government Agencies should take to minimise the problems identified.

DTTAS plan to have the report completed within six months. The IEA will sit on the Advisory Board for the study and will seek to ensure that the interests of manufacturing exporters are fully represented there.

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Neptune Line, Rosslare Service Opens Up Possibilities for Irish Exporters

Rosslare Europort Manager and IEA Supply Chain Initiative sponsor, Irish Rail, reports the very successful introduction of the weekly Neptune Lines service linking Santander, Le Havre and Southampton. While Neptune Line does operate a number of freight ferry service's the company’s main activity is in Trade Car and Truck distribution with services linking a number of European Ports. Discussions are now underway with a trailer freight operator to establish an export service to Iberian Markets for Irish manufacturers based on this service. Further details of the direct service will be announced shortly.

Irish Rail also advise that the revised scheduling of the Stena Line Southern Irish Sea corridor service linking Rosslare with Fishguard has proven to be successful and have noted an increase of freight traffic volumes through the Co. Wexford Port.

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What now for Customs and Brexit?

Theresa May ran a Conservative campaign based on “Brexit means Brexit” which for May meant a Hard Brexit. In May’s vision of the future of the UK this meant leaving the Customs Union and leaving the Single Market.

For Irish Traders this meant the imposition of customs duties on trade with the UK, the imposition of border controls and potential complications for importing UK goods in terms of conformity with EU standards.

For the Agri-Food industry an additional nightmare would be the need for agricultural products to be imported from EU approved plants and the requirement for import licenses.

What Brexit means is still unclear

Brexit might still mean departure from the Single Market and Customs Union as planned by Theresa May and re-confirmed by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond in an interview with the BBC on the 18th June.

However there may still be a Free Trade Agreement concluded which will minimise the impact of customs duties and tariffs.

Finally, with the DUP now entering a confidence and supply arrangement with May the views of Northern Ireland businesses will have to come front and centre in the negotiations. Arlene Foster has made it very clear that the DUP is against a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. For the border this can only mean good news and a focus on what will be good for business trading North to South (which equally impacts positively on South-North trade).

What steps should Exporters be taking at this point?

Essentially this has not changed from the advice provided in previous newsletters.

Firstly review the supply chain and determine the information and other requirements which will be necessary to enable you to complete Import/Export Declarations and minimise any delays at customs.

Secondly review your products and determine the best, likely and worst case scenario in terms of additional duty rates.

Thirdly upskill and train staff to understand and implement the new requirements.
 

What could a “practical” Brexit look like in trade terms and how should business now look to plan ahead for March 2019?

1. Trade Agreements and Tariffs

The first question often asked is whether or not customs duties will apply on imports into the UK from Ireland or on import into Ireland from the UK.  At this point there is no answer to this question as it will depend on the type of agreement the UK and EU conclude and the scope of that agreement (most agreements have limited applicability to agricultural products).

When people refer to a Hard Brexit or a Soft Brexit it generally refers to the UK being outside the EU/Customs Union/Single Market (Hard Brexit) or remaining part of the Single Market or Customs Union.

In the former case this would mean the UK being treated as a third country subject to standard MFN (WTO) rates. This can range up to 10% for industrial products and up to 50% for agricultural products.

In the case of a soft Brexit however any of the following scenarios could apply:

  • The UK and EU agree a Customs Union with the EU – similar to the current arrangement for Turkey. Under the Turkey Customs Union, Turkey agree to adopt the EU’s common external tariffs on third-country imports, as well as all EU preferential trade agreements concluded with third countries. However, Turkey does not have a say in the negotiations of EU Free Trade Agreements with third countries (despite being bound by them in relation to imports). This would mean therefore that the UK apply the EU’s Customs Tariff to all imports into the UK. Goods subsequently imported into the UK or EU would not be subject to an additional duty payment on movement to the other’s territory (subject to an ATR cert to confirm the status of the goods). The UK would be subject to EU Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) and would have to allow FTA countries preferential access to the UK market (It is to be presumed that they would also easily agree UK access to the FTA countries market).
  • EEA (Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein)/EFTA (Switzerland) type arrangement.
    The EEA countries have full access to the Single Market in the same way as current EU Member states on the basis that all EU single market legislation is fully implemented in their countries. In addition they must apply the four freedoms. EEA countries do not however have a say in the EU decision-making process on relevant EU legislation and policies.Goods can move without customs duties where goods qualify as “originating products” (subject to a EUR1 document to prove originating status).
  • Preferential Trade Agreements – The EU has concluded a myriad of trade agreements such as the Canada Trade Agreement and South Korea Trade Agreement. Each agreement is specific to the party and what they agree to. In general however these agreements provide for preferential duty access to each other’s market subject to goods qualifying as “originating” – as per the EEA/EFTA agreements above.

 

2. Border Controls

Regardless of the type of agreement concluded, once the UK becomes a non-EU country a customs declaration will still be required on export from the EU and import into the EU. In addition some form of Border control will have to apply.

Even with imports from Turkey, which has a Customs Union with the EU, a SAD is required to be lodged along with an ATR document to prove that goods are in free circulation in the Union.

Similarly with the Norway- Sweden border there are customs controls and the requirement for customs declarations. On the Norway-Sweden border for example there are 10 customs checkpoints with HGVs required to travel via one of these road border crossing points.

However, with an EEA/EFTA type arrangement or a Customs Union then the possibility of an electronic border and customs facilitation stations, as envisaged by Revenue, becomes more likely. While this would simplify the position on the North-South border in terms of movement of goods it does not negate the need for customs compliance and declarations to be submitted to Customs to account for the movement of those goods.

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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Impact of Brexit on VAT

Since the introduction of the Single Market in 1993, there has been no VAT charged on cross border supplies of goods to business customers (B2B) based in other European Union (EU) Member States and no requirement to pay VAT on import when an EU based business brings goods in from another Member State.

Instead, supplies of goods between VAT registered entities within the EU are ‘zero rated’ for VAT purposes, provided that the customer’s VAT number in a different EU Member state is obtained and there is proof that the goods have left the country of departure.

Under the current system, the onus is on the customer to self-account for any VAT arising  on the intra community acquisition of the goods on a reverse charge basis, at the rate of VAT prevailing in the country of arrival, with VIES/EC Sales and Intrastat filing obligations generally arising as part of the related procedure.

So what will change post Brexit when goods are being supplied to business customers based in the UK, including Northern Ireland?

Ultimately the VAT implications will depend on the outcome of the forthcoming Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU.  If we assume that trading with the UK post Brexit will be similar to trading with any other non-EU country the following scenarios are likely to prevail in addition to any Customs related implications:

  • VAT on importation will become payable on the value of goods being brought into the UK from EU Member States (and vice versa) by both business customers and consumers (allowing for likely de minimis amounts on which VAT will not be collected).The Value for VAT purposes includes the cost of the goods, the related freight & insurance and the customs duty.  In these circumstances arrangements will need to be made by importers of goods to discharge any VAT arising on import or alternatively, to put a VAT deferral account in place which involves lodging a bond with the Tax Authorities. Otherwise the goods being imported will not be released by the Authorities until the related VAT liability is paid.
  • VIES/EC Sales listings and Intrastat filings which supplement details included on VAT filings will no longer be relevant for supplies of goods and services into the UK as these only pertain to cross border supplies between EU based suppliers
  • UK VAT Rates may differ to those currently in existence (standard rate is now 20%) and it is possible, albeit unlikely, that the UK could reduce its VAT rates significantly to encourage trade, as it will no longer be confined by the EU requirements to maintain VAT rates within a certain range.
  • VAT registration may be required in the UK by EU based suppliers maintaining ‘call off’ stocks of goods, there for draw down by single customers, where simplification measures currently exist to avoid the necessity for such registration.UK Registration requirements may also crystallise in circumstances where simplified triangulation arrangements currently applicable involving a chain supply between ‘VAT registered’ entities in 3 different EU Member States enables the avoidance of a VAT registration by an intermediate supplier.  It is also possible, albeit unlikely, that the UK could oblige non-UK established service providers to register for VAT in the UK in respect of the provision of certain services to UK VAT registered entities where the VAT on such services is currently accounted for by the recipient of the services under reverse charge.
  • UK VAT which is correctly chargeable to businesses established in other European Union Member States which are not obliged to register for VAT in the UK, will no longer be reclaimable under the Eighth VAT Directive Electronic VAT Refund (EVR) scheme. This VAT will most likely have to be reclaimed under the Thirteenth VAT Directive Claim procedure which currently applies to businesses in other non-EU Countries.
  • The VAT Margin schemes currently in operation throughout the EU which apply to sales of second hand goods (including cars), works of art, tour operators/travel agents etc. across the European Union may no longer apply in the UK post Brexit.
  • Distance Sales (i.e. sales of goods from a business in one EU Member State to Consumers based in other EU Member Satiates) thresholds will no longer apply in respect of supplies of goods from the EU to UK based consumers and in respect of supplies of goods to EU based consumers by UK based suppliers.

 

It will also be a lot more cumbersome for goods to be supplied cross border to consumers both by UK suppliers into the EU and EU suppliers into the UK due to VAT and possibly Customs duty liabilities crystallising at the time of importation.

At least some of the above scenarios will result in additional administrative requirements and cash flow management costs.

Additional Administration costs include staff costs in preparing and processing the necessary back up detail, obtaining professional advice regarding the VAT implications of trading with the UK, registering for VAT and additional compliance obligations – filing VAT returns etc.

Cash flow management will become critical when managing the time lag between paying and reclaiming VAT because if not managed effectively it can give rise to financial negative cash flow implications / additional working capital requirements as VAT on importation of goods may not be refunded for a matter of months or even longer.

Under the likely new regime VAT physically paid on importation or paid using a deferral account should continue to be reclaimable in line with current rules underpinning entitlement to VAT recovery with Single Administration Documents (SADs) being required when reclaiming VAT paid on import in Ireland and C79s in the case of UK VAT on import.

So what VAT steps should exporters and importers take now in preparation for Brexit?

Be Brexit ready – Start to review your business strategy with regard to the likely impact of Brexit on your business and try to minimise any negative VAT impact as much as possible.  Please see below for further suggestions on how you can become Brexit ready:

  1. VAT deferment facility – This should be considered in the context of bridging the gap between paying the VAT on importation and reclaiming it.
  2. Delivery Terms - Serious consideration should be given to the terms of delivery agreed with suppliers. DDP as opposed to DAT/DDU should be preferred.  This also needs to be considered from a commercial perspective.
  3. Review your supply chain – Have a Brexit Impact study carried out on your business with a view to identifying what steps can be taken at this stage to avoid potential exposure to your business.

 

BDO is actively working with a number of our clients to examine their supply chains to determine the risks of Brexit to their businesses.  We are considering what alternative strategies can be taken to plan as early as possible, rather than them running the risk of being exposed following the conclusion of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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Claiming Preferential Duty Rates – what you need to know?

Free Trade Agreements Facilitation goals can include removing or cutting customs duties on goods; scrapping any limits (quotas) on the amounts firms can import/export; allowing businesses to provide services and bid for public contracts in the other country and cutting red tape whilst maintaining important standards like health and safety or environmental protection.

The reduction or removal of customs duties is usually the benefit that traders will focus on because it provides a tangible financial benefit to their business by reducing the cost of their raw materials or by making their goods more competitively priced in the free trade market.

However here are conditions attached to the FTA such as goods must be deemed to have preferential origin status in the country of supply and the importer must have proof of this origin status.

Origin is the 'economic' nationality of goods traded in commerce

Origin with regard to Customs is comparable to people passing through an airport after arriving in a destination country. The ease of movement through immigration controls depends on your nationality and any agreements made between your country and the country you are now entering. These checks can range from a simple glance at your passport to more vigorous checks and the need to purchase a visa for countries with no agreements in place.

In the case of goods, their preferential origin status is their nationality or citizenship and their proof of origin status (EUR1 or supplier declaration) is their passport.

Like citizenship, preferential origin is subject to a number of conditions. When an Irish citizen travels from Canada to the United States they are not doing so as a Canadian citizen and likewise it is not enough for a product to be simply transported from a country to claim that it has preferential origin status in that country.

The two principle determining factors in assessing a goods right to preferential origin are; that they are wholly obtained in that country or that they have they been sufficiently transformed in that country to confer origin.

Wholly obtained

Products are considered as "wholly obtained" in a country when they are entirely produced in that country without having used input from other countries.

Examples of wholly obtained products include:

  • Vegetable products harvested or gathered in that country;
  • Live animals born and raised in that country;
  • Products obtained from live animals in that country;
  • Products obtained from hunting or fishing conducted in that country;
  • Products obtained by maritime fishing and other products taken from the sea by a vessel of that country;
  • Mineral products extracted from its soil, from its territorial waters or from its seabed;
  • Products extracted from marine soil or subsoil outside that country’s territorial waters, provided that the country has sole rights to work that soil or subsoil and products produced from a combination of any of the above examples.

Sufficiently transformed

Ordinarily it should be clear whether or not a product has been wholly obtained in a country but what if a product has not been wholly obtained but has been manufactured in a country, can this qualify as preferentially originated?

The answer to this is yes.  It may qualify but first it must satisfy the conditions for preferential origin as set out in the FTA between the two countries.

The specific rules on how a product will qualify as being sufficiently worked in order to confer origin are dependent on the tariff classification of the finished product that is exported.  An outline of the classification process can be found here.

Some of the listed rules consider whether the processing carried out has added sufficient value to the exported product, that the finished product is of a different tariff heading to the non-originating raw materials used, that specific processing operations have been carried out or a combination of any these options.

Other concepts in preferential origin

The general tolerance or de minimis rule may allow the use certain non-EU materials in the processing of a wholly obtained product whilst still retaining preferential origin status.

Minimal operations or simple processing operations such as packaging or labelling products will not be sufficient to confer origin.

There are other considerations with preferential origin claims such as directly transporting the product, the non-manipulation of the product and duty drawback rules. The concept of cumulation can make it easier to meet the conditions for preferential origin claims, by forming countries into groups or zones for origin purpose. The application of these rules and concepts will differ depending on the products and countries involved and should be considered on a case by case basis.

It should be noted that while it is the exporter who is responsible for declaring the origin status of the goods, it is the importer who will receive the benefit of the preferential duty rate of the imported goods. The implication of this is that in a post clearance audit situation, if it is found that the product doesn’t qualify for preferential origin it will be the importer who will be assessed on the difference between the preferential rate of duty and the duty rate applied without preferential treatment. As assessing the originating status is generally completed on a self-review basis by the exporter, the importer should therefore be aware of the preferential origin rules in order to carry out their due diligence on their supplier’s claim of origin.

In cases where the preferential origin status may include an element of doubt, a trader can apply to their national customs authorities for an origin ruling. This will provide them with certainty regarding the application of the rules. In the EU this ruling is known as a Binding Origin Information (BOI).

Proof of origin

In order for a good to claim preferential origin on import the exporter must provide proof of origin status which comes in the form of either a preferential origin certificate or a supplier’s declaration. A preferential origin certificate is completed by the exporter and stamped by customs on export. The preferential origin certificate that is used in the EU is called a EUR1.

Alternatively, an exporter can make a declaration on the commercial invoice that the goods have preferential origin. In order to make an invoice declaration for goods exceeding a value of €6,000 an exporter will have to apply to Revenue to become an approved exporter.

The Registered Exporter system (the REX system) is the system of certification of origin of goods that applies in the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) of the European Union and was introduced on 1st January 2017 with a transition period running to 2020. To be entitled to make out a supplier’s declaration on origin, an economic operator will have to be registered in a database by their competent authorities. The economic operator will become a "registered exporter".

Important points to consider

  • Are the goods “wholly obtained”?
  • Do they qualify as sufficiently transformed? Note: that they have been correctly classified and the correct rule has been applied.
  • Will other factors affect the preferential origin status?
  • Will a ruling (Binding Origin Information) be required?
  • Do you need to register on the REX system?
  • Do you know how to complete a EUR1 or a supplier’s declaration?
  • When you receive proof of origin from an exporter, have you made sufficient enquiries to assess that this has been correctly issued?

For more information about our partnership with BDO Ireland click here.

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Scams Awareness/Anti Fraud

 

 

Click link for PDF : Scams Awareness Document

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Intermodal Freight Route Planner evaluation completes Mid-June

The IEA has played an active role in the EU-EIP Intelligent Transport Services project which completes its work in June 2017. While much of the project has focussed on the development of as close to seamless as possible road freight routes across an East-West corridor, the IEA’s specific input has been the development of an intermodal route planner. This planner is intended to inform freight Forwarders, hauliers and cargo shippers of the current range of origin/destination routes built on the use of container and other intermodal equipment using mainly a combination of modes other than road, specifically, sea, rail and barge.

Unlike a number of similar route planners introduced by certain ports and Lines in recent months the EU project’s planner is totally port and service neutral.

We would now ask you to test this intermodal route planner and give your feedback!

The Planner provides an overview of (almost) all intermodal freight connections on the East West Corridor, running from Ireland/UK via Benelux, Germany and Poland to the Baltic States. The planner can be found on https://lnkd.in/gbxYc2x. We would like to receive feedback on this intermodal route planner, to hear whether it is useful, easy to navigate, complete, etc. The questionnaire with only 7 questions can be found here: https://lnkd.in/gxMMFtv.

While this project started long before BREXIT was even thought about its relevance has been greatly enhanced by this development and the need for exporters and importers to re-examine their traditional routes with partners in continental Europe.

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Slight easing in pressure on deep-sea shipping services

 

Throughout the Spring 2017 period the Lines serving Asia, Europe and North America have been involved in a period of major re-organisation. This arises from two factors, an overall pretty disastrous 2016 in which, despite low oil prices, most of the major lines including Maersk lost significant amounts of money, leading to major cost reduction programmes and also the planned re-alignment of the Carriers into new vessel sharing Alliances.

Operating within the new Alliances means that individual Lines will find that some of the ports of call for the Ocean vessels will change, leading to a knock-on re-organisation of feeder vessel services and schedules. In some cases, the schedule changes led to Lines cancelling sailings thus allowing cargo and containers to build up. This has led to delays of up to six weeks in some cargoes being shipped and to the rates that are being charged to those shippers that were not protected by their long-term contracts escalating to up to five times more than the average rates. Irish exporters have been particularly badly hit as the local offices for the Ocean carriers have been unable to secure a sufficient supply of the right container equipment to meet Irish needs.

In order to discourage the practice of double booking of space by some cargo shippers a number of Lines have recently introduced “no-show” penalty payments where a container booking is cancelled with less than one week’s notice. In the cases of export shipments from Ireland this has not been a major problem as the Shipping Line offices and agents here keep closely in touch with Shippers to ensure that all available “slots” on both feeder and ocean vessels are used.

We discussed the situation with one major operator. They reported that, for the June period, pressure has reduced a little and that Ocean vessels are now full four weeks prior to departure from European Port instead of the six to eight weeks as was the case in the March to May period. The Alliances do expect more steady services from now on without any dropped sailings as the Alliances are now established and schedules are settling down.

The situation on freight rates remains difficult though no further increases from those running through May are now expected. However, bunker fuel prices are still creeping higher leading to increased BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor) on most rates.  The Lines do not expect any significant drop in rates over the coming months.

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Stakeholders to Comment on Electronic Documents for Freight

 

21st May 2017, the European Commission (EC) following the recommendations of the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF) published Inception Impact Assessment report on electronic transport documents for freight carriage and is asking stakeholders for their feedback.

 DTLF is an initiative taken by the European Commission (EC) to bring relevant stakeholders together. ESC being one of the leading members of this forum worked together with some 100 other representative parties to prepare recommendations on the use of electronic transport documents.

Being based on the DTLF contribution, the EC report provides a preliminary overview of the problem, possible policy measures and expected impacts. The document is open for feedback for 4 weeks as from the 21st of May 2017. All stakeholders can provide their comments. We encourage IEA members and all the relevant stakeholders to provide your feedback following the link: http://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2017-2546864_en.

After this period, the Commission will start its impact assessment process. The process will be concluded in spring 2018, with a series of open public and targeted stakeholder consultations conducted in between to get the stakeholders’ views on the different aspects.

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