Latin America Trade Bulletin: Customs Fraud, Trade Facilitation, FTAs
This new bi-weekly publication offers an overview of the important regulatory and other developments affecting trade and customs throughout the region, including key markets like Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. To receive this free publication in your inbox every other Thursday, visit our subscribe page and check “Latin America Trade Bulletin.”
Three indicted for over-invoicing imports
Two Argentine businessmen and a Uruguayan citizen were indicted in Argentina on charges of over-invoicing involving over 700 imports valued at US$170 million. These individuals used a ghost corporation in Uruguay to re-invoice goods purchased in China, adding about 20 percent unjustified margin. The investigation originated in risk analysis conducted by Argentina Customs of two major importers and distributors of industrial hardware and was possible due to a new cooperation agreement between Mercosur customs administrations.
Cooperation agreement between chambers of commerce in Argentina, Spain
The Argentinian Chamber of Commerce and its Spanish counterpart signed April 30 an agreement that seeks to improve cooperation on training, conferences, forums, and promotion and development of bilateral trade. Also included is a commitment to consolidate and expand commercial and financial contacts between Argentinian and Spanish companies, organizations and institutions.
Imports of exotic and indigenous reptiles banned
Argentina has banned the importation and commercialization of live specimens of certain exotic and/or indigenous reptiles that could pose a risk to human life or health. Exemptions from this ban may be granted to registered entities for use in zoological gardens, scientific research or the production of anti-venom serum.
Certification required for safety components of elevators as of Aug. 6
Argentina has accredited the National Institute of Industrial Technology to certify that domestically-produced and imported safety components for elevators comply with the mandatory requirements of Resolution 897/1999 and Article 4 of Resolution 143/2004. As a result, the certification requirement, which has been suspended pending the designation of a body accredited to test for compliance, will enter into force Aug. 6.
AD duty order on Chinese yarn under review
Argentina has initiated a sunset review of the antidumping duty order on Chinese textured filament yarn of polyesters (except sewing thread) of more than 80 decitex but equal to or lower than 350 decitex, classified under NCM 5402.33.00. This review will result in either the revocation or continuation of the order, which currently subjects imports of covered merchandise to a 14.20 percent AD duty.
Stronger commercial ties with Argentina sought
In a May 11 meeting in Buenos Aires, Chile and Argentina assessed the evolution of bilateral trade and investment, trade promotion activities and trade remedies, as well as work conducted within the framework of the Chile-Mercosur Economic Complementation Agreement and progress achieved by the Pacific Alliance. Among other things, Argentina agreed to respond as soon as possible to Chile’s proposal on potential areas of cooperation between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance.
China to increase imports of Chilean foods
At a recent meeting in Santiago authorities from China and Chile signed an amendment to a protocol on Chilean blueberry exports to China. Chile is working to expand the agricultural commodities it exports to China and has become one of four countries (together with Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands) to obtain the eCert (Animal Health Electronic Certification) to export to China.
New conformity certification requirements for certain products
The Ministry of Energy has determined that the following products will have to be certified for compliance with applicable safety requirements by a certification body authorized by the Superintendence of Electricity and Fuels prior to their commercialization in Chile: flexible metal ducts, rigid metal ducts, boards (cabinets), derivation boxes (metal and plastic) and rechargeable flashlights.
New sanitary requirements for imported equines
Among other things, the country or region of origin must have been declared free of African equine fever in accordance with the recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health and that status must have been approved by Chile. In addition, the country or region of origin must not have had any instances of a range of diseases affecting equines.
New measures to facilitate trade operations
The Colombian government has issued a decree aimed at facilitating international trade operations and customs oversight. Among other things, the decree modifies the definition of customs inspection and cargo examination by introducing the concept of non-intrusive inspection. Specifically, the new definition of customs inspection provides that physical examination of cargo will be non-intrusive when it is carried out with the aid of high-technology equipment that does not require the cargo units or packages to be opened. Cargo examinations may be performed to verify the nature, description, state, quantity, weight, measurement, origin, value and tariff classification of the goods in order to correctly determine the customs duties and charges to be assessed and ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.
FTA talks with Japan move forward
Colombia and Japan held May 18-22 an eleventh round of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. The discussions reportedly focused on four areas that have not yet been finalized: market access for agricultural and industrial goods, legal and institutional issues, government procurement and rules of origin. Bilateral trade reached US$1.86 billion in 2014, with Japanese investment in Colombia accounting for 51 percent of total Asian investment in that country.
Study to evaluate feasibility of FTA with China
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued a joint statement during Li’s recent visit to Colombia that the two sides will conduct a study of the feasibility of deepening bilateral commerce, which has already grown 15 times in the last ten years.
Imports of alcohol fuel authorized during May-June
Colombia has authorized the importation of one million gallons of alcohol fuel during May-June 2015 to cover a shortfall in domestic production. Importers registered with the Ministry of Mines and Energy were required to submit alcohol fuel import requests through the electronic single window for trade operations, with those requests expected to be approved before May 29.
U.S., Cuba negotiate terms for renewal of bilateral relations
Representatives of both countries held a third round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations May 21 in Washington, D.C. The meeting was expected to address issues related to the functioning of diplomatic missions and the behavior of officials. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations remarked favorably on President Obama’s removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and commended advances in resuming banking services.
Three importers face long prison terms for customs fraud
Three Peruvian footwear importers were recently sentenced to eight-year prison terms for devising a scheme to evade approximately US$1.5 million in antidumping duties on imports of certain sandals from Chile’s Iquique Free Zone. The importers claimed that the sandals originated in Malaysia when they were in fact made in China. The National Customs and Tax Administration Superintendence discovered the fraudulent activities as part of its regular oversight and enforcement activities.
Peru wins investment case against gas extraction company
A recent ruling by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes has awarded the Peruvian government about US$65 million in royalties for the extraction of natural gas in the southern Andean region of Cusco by the Camisea Consortium.
Honduran executives travel to Peru in search of commercial agreements
A commercial mission of Honduran businessmen will travel to Peru this week to promote two-way trade, particularly in goods, services and mining. The mission comes ahead of a visit by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
New phytosanitary requirements for stevia seeds from Israel
Importers must obtain a phytosanitary permit from the National Service for Agricultural Health prior to certification and shipment from Israel. The shipment must also be accompanied by an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the relevant authorities in Israel. The seeds must be shipped in new containers free of extraneous material and be properly identified.