Global Trade News Alerts

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Brexit: political deal on movement of goods during transition period

28 March 2018

The EU and UK negotiators reached a political deal on parts of the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, covering citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, various other withdrawal issues, and the terms of a transition period, which would run to 31 December 2020. On 19 March 2018, the European Commission published a Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (“EU”) and the European Atomic Energy Community (hereinafter the “Draft Agreement”). The Draft Agreement can be consulted via this link.

Note: The text upon which the negotiators have found an agreement is marked in green. In yellow the negotiators agreed on the policy objective. Text without mark-up indicates no agreement has yet been found between the negotiators.

There are still a number of open issues on which agreement must be reached, most notably in relation to the Irish border, before the Draft Agreement is finalised.  It must also then be ratified.

Union Customs Code: The “Entry in the Declarant’s Records” authorisation

27 March 2018


With the Union Customs Code’s (UCC) entry into force on 1 May 2016, requests for the “local clearance” (Domiciliëringsprocedure / Procédure de domiciliation) authorisation can no longer be introduced. Current authorisations remain valid until (1) their revision by the Belgian Customs authorities, ultimately by May 2019, or (2) are converted into ‘preliminary EIDR authorisations’ by the competent Customs authority before that date.

EU obtains temporary exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium and initiates its own safeguard

26 March 2018

On 23 March 2018, tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on imports of aluminium became effective in the US. Shipments of steel and aluminium from the EU into the US have been temporarily exempted from such measures through 30 April 2018, and EU leaders are engaged in negotiations to obtain a permanent exemption. On 26 March 2018, the EU mirrored the US measure by initiating a safeguard investigation that may result in tariffs or quotas on a broad range of steel products.

EU safeguard investigation initiated on Indica rice originating in Cambodia and Myanmar

19 March 2018

On 16 March 2018, the European Commission initiated a safeguard investigation on Indica rice originating in Cambodia and Myanmar, upon a request lodged by Italy.

Compulsory excise duty exemption on energy products used for cogeneration of heat and electricity

9 March 2018

On 7 March 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a judgment (Case C-31/17 – Cristal Union) relating to the compulsory tax exemption for energy products used for electricity production, even when these products are used in a cogeneration unit.

US Announces Steel and Aluminium Tariffs Effective 23 March 2018

9 March 2018

On 8 March 2018, President Trump issued two proclamations formally implementing new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium into the US. The President cited the reason for the tariffs as the threat to national security posed by declining steel and aluminium industries, stating that such decline was “weakening our internal economy” and leaving the US “at risk of becoming completely reliant on foreign producers.” These tariffs are based on the recommendations stemming from two investigations conducted by the US Department of Commerce under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1862) that concluded in January 2018.

EU publishes guidance on Brexit consequences for Customs and VAT

15 February 2018

In a 29 January 2018 press release, the Council announced a second set of supplementing negotiating directives detailing the EU27 (EU member state gathering without the UK) position regarding a transition period in relation to Brexit. These directives present a transition period that could not last beyond 31 December 2020.

Then on 30 January 2018, the EU Commission published a document giving businesses an early warning regarding key Customs and VAT challenges that they will need to tackle the moment the United Kingdom would no longer be a Member of the European Union. Unless a transitional period is agreed upon between the EU and the UK, the EU Customs and VAT rules will no longer apply in the UK from 30 March 2019.

Using transfer prices for customs valuation: update on CJEU Hamamatsu Judgment

6 February 2018

On 20 December 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its judgment in the Hamamatsu Photonics Deutschland GmbH case (hereafter referred to as ‘Hamamatsu’) with respect to customs valuation in relation to transfer pricing adjustments.

Hamamatsu is part of a group of companies that have concluded an advance pricing agreement. Hamamatsu purchased imported goods from its parent company in accordance with said advance pricing agreement. Based on the transfer pricing method (Residual Profit Split Method), each company within the concern was allocated a profit to generate a minimum rate of return. Depending on whether the actual profit falls outside of the anticipated margin, the result is adjusted to the margin’s upper and/or lower limit, resulting in subsequent credit or debit notes (so-called transfer pricing adjustments).

Imports of tyres for buses and lorries originating in China subject to registration

5 February 2018

On 2 February 2018, a Regulation was published in the EU Official Journal, subjecting imports of tyres for busses and lorries originating in China to registration.

The surveillance measure has been requested in the context of the dual anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations, initiated by the European Commission on 11 August 2017 and 24 October 2017 respectively.

EU initiates anti-subsidy probe on Biodiesel originating in Argentina

2 February 2018

On 31 January 2018, the European Commission initiated an anti-subsidy investigation on biodiesel originating in Argentina (Notice).

The product subject to this investigation is fatty-acid mono-alkyl esters and/or paraffinic gasoils obtained from synthesis and/or hydro-treatment, of non-fossil origin, commonly known as biodiesel.

Expiry review initiated on anti-dumping measures applicable to imports of tube and pipe fittings with specific origins

30 January 2018

On 27 January 2018, the European Commission initiated an investigation related to the expiry of anti-dumping measures applicable on imports of tube and pipe fittings originating in Turkey, Russia, Korea and Malaysia (Notice).

U.S. Administration to impose safeguard tariffs on washing machines and solar panels

24 January 2018

On 22 January 2018, the U.S. Administration announced President Trump’s approval of safeguard tariffs on imported residential washing machines, as well as solar cells and modules. 

New EU Conflict minerals regulation: implications and lessons learnt from the Dodd-Frank Act in the US

15 January 2018

On 17 May 2017, the EU Parliament and EU Council adopted new import regulation on ‘Conflict Minerals’ under Regulation 2017/821. Through the raw materials covered under the EU ‘Conflict Minerals’ Regulation, (tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold), companies importing the minerals used in producing mobile phones, technology, automotive products, as well as jewellery or medical devices, will especially be impacted. 

Expected Anti-Dumping and Anti-Subsidy probes to start in Steel and Aluminium Sectors

12 January 2018

The steel and aluminium industry worldwide is under intense pressure. The global overcapacity fuelled by China’s 50% share in the world’s production gives rise to continued disruption in the international marketplace by increased exports, depressing prices and a subsequent increase in trade barriers and remedies.

The battle around steel and aluminium trade defence mechanisms escalated over the past days with aggressive US-led trade actions and unprecedented multiple investigations in Europe.

EU and Japan finalise negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreement

22 December 2017

On 8 December 2017, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced the successful conclusion of the remaining negotiations for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). 

New EU Anti-Dumping Rules in force: Implications for China

19 December 2017

On 19 December 2017, an important change to EU anti-dumping rules has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The new rules will have significant consequences on dumping determination and resulting anti-dumping duties in future cases targeting imports from China.

Classification of medical screws: Regulation (EU) 1212/2014 repealed

18 December 2017
Facts for repealing

Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1212/2014 (hereafter Reg.1212/2014) classified medical or implant screws under CN code 8108 90 90.  The reasoning behind this classification was that due to their objective characteristics and properties, the screws should be considered as being of “general use”.  

Efficient use of EU free trade agreements

20 November 2017
On 9 November 2017, the European Commission published the first edition of the annual Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Implementation Report. The goal of this communication is to assess transparency and highlight progress as well as problems and shortcomings. The main conclusion of the report is that there is an untapped potential in FTAs, due to their insufficient utilisation.

New Combined Nomenclature 2018

13 November 2017

The Combined Nomenclature (CN) forms the basis for the declaration of goods:

•      Upon importation or exportation

•      When subject to intra-Union trade statistics

The CN determines which rate of customs duty applies and how the goods are treated for statistical and commercial purposes. The CN is thus a vital working tool for businesses and EU Member States' customs and VAT administrations.

Customs duty reclaims on defective goods

30 October 2017

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a judgment on 12 October 2017 (X BV v Staatssecretaris van Financiën (C-661/15)) relating to customs duty adjustments on defective goods (cars in this case). Given the Court’s position, the resulting case law creates a major opportunity for affected companies to reclaim overpaid customs duties.

Anticipating CETA: benefiting from tariff reductions

21 September 2017

As of 21 September 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada provisionally enters into force. This means that almost all provisions under CETA, comprising 95% of its benefits, will be available to companies and consumers.

One of the main benefits of CETA is that EU and Canadian origin goods can be traded between the two signatories at a reduced or zero import duty rate, subject to origin conditions.  As CETA is a ‘Mixed Agreement’, ratification by all EU member state parliaments and the Canadian parliament will be required for the full entry into force. Some provisions, related to the Investment Court System and financial services, will only become applicable once CETA fully enters into force.

New common EU denaturant for ethyl alcohol

04 August 2017

European Member States apply an excise duty on the human consumption of alcohol and products containing alcohol. However, when alcohol is denatured, making it unsuitable for such consumption, an excise duty exemption may apply.

New European Commission rules aim to tackle illicit trafficking of artworks

26 July 2017

On 13 July 2017, a new European Commission proposal on the import of cultural goods was published, and will soon thereafter be submitted to the European Parliament and the European Council for approval. The new rules could enter into force as early as 2019, and are part of a broader plan to fight terrorist financing.

For the art market and its different stakeholders, the new rules would bring consistency and clarity on the types of restrictions and control measures proposed by the European Commission in tackling illicitly traded cultural objects. Imports of cultural objects older than 250 years into the EU will be forbidden if they are illegally exported from the source country.

EU and Japan announce political agreement on bilateral Free Trade Agreement

11 July 2017

On Thursday 6 July 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the two trading powers reached a general political agreement on the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Negotiations for an EU-Japan FTA were officially launched in 2013. Over the last few years, these negotiations came to a near standstill following disagreements between the parties, trade-averse sentiments among the public and an internal deadlock on decision competencies between the Commission and EU member states. A number of recent developments in and outside the EU have reinitiated talks and accelerated the pending trade deal. 

ECJ clarifies the cost of transport included in the customs value

22 May 2017

On 11 May 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a ruling in the case: The Shirtmakers BV v. Staatssecretaris van Financiën (C-59/16).

Importing textile goods from Asia, The Shirtmakers BV relied on a customs agent to arrange the goods’ transportation to the EU, their storage in the Netherlands and the completion of the required import formalities. When declaring the customs value, the customs agent only added the costs invoiced by the transportation companies to the price actually paid, or payable for the imported goods, without adding the fees incurred for the customs agent’s services. The Dutch customs authorities disagreed with this approach, claiming that the customs value has been understated.

EU–Singapore FTA is mixed agreement (ECJ) – How does EU trade policy go forward?

19 May 2017

On Tuesday 16 May 2017, the ECJ (European Court of Justice) published its final opinion on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The court confirmed that, for the largest part, this deal falls within EU exclusive competency with some aspects requiring approval from national and regional governments. The ECJ opinion was eagerly awaited, given its potential to create clarity regarding the (future of) the EU’s trade policy and on-going negotiations for FTAs across the globe.

Excise taxation of energy products and electricity: invitation to take part in European Commission (DG TAXUD) Study

24 April 2017

The DG TAXUD in the European Commission has asked Deloitte to conduct a study on the technical and legal aspects of what is known as the “Energy Taxation Directive” or “ETD” (Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity). The study is to be finalised by August 2017.

New requirements for Belgian electronic import declarations

20 April 2017

As part of the Multi Annual Strategic Planning (MASP) from the Belgian Customs Authorities, the Belgian electronic import declaration in PLDA is facing new requirements to align with European Union Directives. One of the new requirements is the extension of the IT application for electronic filing in PLDA with data fields from the customs value declaration (hereafter D.V.1). D.V.1 data fields are to be included in the electronic import declaration in the PLDA application.

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: what to expect in terms of business benefits and Government implementation

2 March 2017

On 22 February 2017, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force following ratification by 112 national parliaments out of a total 164 WTO members. Promising greater trade efficiency by addressing administrative barriers to trade, the TFA required a 2/3 majority among WTO members to enter into force, a majority achieved after ratifications by Rwanda and Tchad during the week of 20 February 2017.

The new agreement’s goal is to simplify and streamline customs formalities for the import and export of goods and to create greater transparency and legal certainty towards businesses involved in cross border trade.  The TFA will help companies move goods quicker and more efficiently across borders, supporting big and smaller companies’ participation in supply chains. The TFA benefits would increase competitiveness in developing countries, as trade transaction costs are highest in the world’s poorest countries. It is estimated that implementing TFA would have a bigger impact on international trade than eliminating all remaining tariffs.

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