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New Feature: STTAS EU Trade Weekly

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

This is the debut of a weekly article highlighting trade and customs news from around the European Union as well as selected other major markets in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Asia, Africa and elsewhere. As the number of companies doing business globally continues to rise, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg and Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services are working to help readers stay informed of the latest developments that could affect supply chain operations around the world. “STTAS EU Trade Weekly,” compiled by our experienced, on-the-ground EU staff headquartered in Poland, will provide this type of information each week.

Italy: Pre-clearance Comes to Port of Civitavecchia

A test of pre-clearance of containers and goods imported by vessel began Sept. 10 at the Italian seaport of Civitavecchia. Pre-clearance, or completing customs clearance processes before goods are offloaded from the ship, is expected to significantly speed up customs processing and help increase the attractiveness and efficiency of Italian ports. (La Voce del Popolo)

Spain: ECJ Rules Against Spanish Inheritance Tax Rules

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Spain is in breach of European Union treaties by imposing a higher rate of gift and inheritance taxes on non-residents. Many regional governments in Spain reduce or waive these taxes for local residents, but non-residents are required to pay the higher national rates. The ECJ said this system is discriminatory and violates the free movement of people and capital within the EU. (

Germany: Economy Minister Campaigns for Economic Cooperation with Near and Middle East

During a recent conference organized by the German Ministry of Economics and Technology and the German Near and Middle East Association, Federal Minister of Economy and Energy Brigitte Zypries campaigned for more economic involvement by German companies in the Near and Middle East and highlighted possibilities for cooperation. (German Ministry of Economy and Energy)

Poland: Customs Service Reforms Adopted by Council of Ministers

The Polish Council of Ministers recently adopted a draft law amending the law on customs service, the law on tax offices and chambers, and other laws. The draft would significantly improve the functioning of the Customs Service and reduce bureaucratic barriers in order to improve the quality of the agency’s services and bring tangible benefits to businesses and citizens dealing with customs authorities. (Polish Ministry of Finance)

France: Decision on Warship Deliveries to Russia to Come in Late October

France will make a decision on the delivery of Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia in late October, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said recently. He reiterated French President Francois Hollande's statement that the implementation of the $1.6 billion contract will depend on the situation in eastern Ukraine. (ITAR-TASS)

Armenia: Yerevan Ready to Join Moscow-led Customs Union

President Serzh Sargsyan announced during a Sept. 3 visit to Moscow that Armenia is ready to join a customs union that currently comprises Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. On Sept. 10 he held talks in Astana with Kazakhstani officials on technical aspects of the customs union accession process.(


Russia: Amended Customs Code for Customs Union Expected by End of October

The text of the amended customs code of the Eurasian Economic Union, a customs union among Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, is expected to be completed by the end of October, at which point it will be send to participating countries for approval. The amendments are designed to improve customs administration, reduce the national segment of customs regulations and implement international best practices. (

Saudi Arabia: Giant New Oil Refinery Coming Online Amid Declining Demand

Saudi Aramco and joint venture partner Sinopec have started test runs at their 400,000 barrel per day Yanbu refinery in Saudi Arabia, putting the new plant on schedule to begin commercial exports in November. Yanbu will be the second major refinery to come online in Saudi Arabia in little more than a year, but it faces a global market where demand and prices are falling. (Trade Arabia)

Saudi Arabia: Customs Officials Receive Death Threats

Saudi customs officers and their families have received death threats at border points for seizing contraband, including fireworks material. Saleh Al- Khelawi, the head of the customs directorate, said fireworks are only allowed into the country for specific celebrations and must meet certain specifications.      (Trade Arabia)

Pakistan: Customs asks Oil Companies, Shipping Lines, Karachi Port to Ensure Timely Exams

Pakistan Customs has asked oil manufacturing companies, shipping lines and the Karachi Port Trust to make effective arrangements for Customs officials to timely examine samples after ships reach anchorage. (Customs Today)

Pakistan: Treaty on Avoidance of Double Taxation Signed with Switzerland

A three-day visit of a Pakistani delegation to Switzerland ended in the signing of a revised treaty on the avoidance of double taxation. The treaty will also help Islamabad seek information about the money deposited by Pakistani nationals in Swiss banks for tax purposes. (Customs Today)

Bahrain: Second Bahrain-Saudi Causeway to Cost $5bn

A second causeway that will connect Bahrain with Saudi Arabia will cost $5 billion to build, according to Bahrain’s transport minister. The second bridge will be used by vehicles as well as freight and passenger trains and become part of the GCC railway network. The exact details of the project, including financing, are expected to be finalized at a joint Saudi-Bahrain meeting next month. (Arabian Business)

Bahrain: Country Named Middle East’s Most Influential Islamic Finance Market

Bahrain has been named the GCC's leading Islamic finance market and second out of 92 countries globally, according to the ICD-Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator. In addition to being highly ranked in terms of its commitment to research and training and local awareness of the industry, Bahrain was also ranked as having the best governance in Islamic finance in the world. Bahrain is home to the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the world, including 32 Islamic banks. (Arabian Business)

Kuwait: Tenders for Refinery Expansion Extended

Kuwait's plans to boost refining capacity by over 50 per cent are still on track, a senior oil official said, despite having to extend tenders to build a 615,000-barrel-per-day refinery that has faced delays and political opposition in the past. Closing dates for tenders to build the country's fourth refinery have been extended until November 2014 and January 2015 after the companies involved asked for more time. (Trade Arabia)


South Africa: Tax Incentive Guide Issued


The South African Revenue Service has published a tax guide that provides a general explanation of the application and interpretation of the provisions within the government's urban development zone tax incentive. The core objectives of the UDZ incentive are to address dereliction and dilapidation in South Africa's largest cities and to promote urban renewal and development by promoting investment by the private sector in the construction or improvement of commercial and residential buildings, including low-cost housing units, situated within demarcated UDZs. The incentive also aims to encourage investment in urban transport infrastructure for trains, buses or taxis. (

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