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STTAS EU Trade Weekly

Monday, September 29, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

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Belgium:Bitcoin VAT exempt, for now

The Belgian tax authority has confirmed that it will not seek to collect value-added tax from trading in virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, until the European Court of Justice has determined how the asset class should be taxed. In a statement posted online by Belgian digital currency exchange Belgacoin, the tax authority said that the currency is exempt under Article 44 of the country's VAT law. It said that it would revise its position in line with whatever is decided at European Union level, but confirmed that it would not apply value-added tax retrospectively. (Tax-News)

Czech Republic: Double taxation treaty signed with Liechtenstein

The treaty, signed on 25 September, is a comprehensive agreement governing taxation and the elimination of international double taxation of all kinds of income and assets. The treaty also enables cooperation between the competent authorities of both countries. (Ministry of Finance)

EU: Text of trade agreement with Ecuador published


The EU and Ecuador are publishing the documents of their trade agreement, which will see Ecuador joining the EU’s existing accord with Colombia and Peru. Both the EU and Ecuador are currently carrying out a legal revision of the texts. The terms of the agreement go beyond the unilateral EU Generalized Scheme of Preferences, for which Ecuador is no longer eligible. (European Commission)

Germany: Voluntary tax disclosure rules tightened

On 24 September Germany's Cabinet approved a draft law according to which the maximum amount of outstanding tax that may be voluntarily disclosed without incurring any penalties will be lowered from €50,000 to €25,000 ($31,951).  (Tax-news)

Germany: Rules on VAT refunds for non-EU operators to be considered by ECJ

The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice regarding its rules on VAT refund applications that discriminate against non-EU operators. Under German VAT legislation, taxable persons established outside the EU must personally sign the application form to be refunded the VAT charged on goods or services. Operators established in Germany or the EU, on the other hand, can authorize a third person to sign or submit their refund form. However, there is no provision under EU legislation requiring VAT refund forms to be personally signed. (European Commission)

Great Britain: New online VAT service for digital services suppliers across the EU

Businesses supplying digital services across the European Union will be able to register for a new online VAT service from 20 October. From 1 January 2015 the place of taxation of EU business-to-consumer supplies of digital services is changing from where the supplier is established to where the consumer lives, meaning suppliers will not have to register VAT separately in each country where they do business. The digital services affected include most types of broadcasting, telecommunications and e-service supplies. Examples range from telephone services and supplies of music, films and games to downloads of apps, images, text or other information. (HM Revenue and Customs)

Russia: Draft law would allow seizure of foreign property


Russian courts could get the green light to seize foreign assets on Russian territory under a draft law intended as a response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. The draft would also allow state compensation for an individual whose property is seized in foreign jurisdictions. Russian laws require three readings in the lower house and the approval of the upper house before going to the president to be signed into law. (Reuters)

Middle East/North Africa


Pakistan: Streamlining of customs process reduces clearance time


Pakistan Customs’ Web Based One Custom (WeBOC) customs clearance system provides real-time integration of agents, brokers, terminal operators, cargo handlers and customs officials for the clearance of trade consignments and collection of duties and taxes. This system is in the process of being implemented at all customs stations, including sea, air and dry ports, across the country. A Pakistan Customs official said 60 percent of cargoes are now cleared within hours instead of days at the Karachi ports. This has not only helped importers save time, money and energy but also allowed Customs to realize the payment of duties and taxes early. (Customs Today)


Turkey: EFTA, Turkey to rewrite free trade deal


Representatives from Turkey and the European Free Trade Association member states – Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland – held a first round of negotiations on 16-17 September to improve the terms of their 1992 free trade agreement. The FTA includes provisions relating to the elimination of customs duties and other trade barriers as well as other trade-related disciplines such as rules of competition, protection of intellectual property, public procurement, state monopolies, state aid, and payments and transfers. It also provides for effective market access for industrial goods in terms of tariffs and rules of origin, bringing the treatment of goods between Turkey and EFTA into line with conditions between EFTA and the European Union. (Tax-news)


United Arab Emirates: Dubai Customs introduces mobile phone filing of customs declarations


To ensure smooth and fast completion of customs transactions, Dubai Customs is allowing its customers to fill out customs declarations using their mobile phones without entering the cargo’s shipping details. Customs believes this system will save customers time and money and is working on further upgrades. (Customs Today)



Japan: Sanctions on Russia increase as tensions rise


Amid signs of tension between Moscow and Tokyo over their own territorial dispute, Japan has imposed additional sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The new sanctions curtail the activities of Russian banks in Japan and step up controls on arms exports. Japan had initially adopted lighter sanctions than the U.S. and its allies for fear of derailing improved relations with Russia. (BBC)

South Korea: Landmark free trade deal with Canada signed


Nine years after negotiations began, Canada and South Korea signed on 22 September a free trade agreement that will eliminate duties on nearly all tariff lines. Upon the agreement’s entry into force, South Korea will immediately remove duties on 81.9 percent of tariff lines. By the time the agreement has been fully implemented, South Korea will have eliminated duties on 100 percent of Canadian non-agricultural exports and 97 percent of agricultural exports. Canada will remove duties on approximately 99.9 percent of South Korea's exports to the country. The agreement must now be ratified by lawmakers on both sides. (Tax-News)

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