the year 2012 has brought many changes in customs and foreign trade law: The Community Customs Code is about to be adopted, the long-awaited and long-negotiated agreements with the United States for the mutual recognition of AEO and C-TPAT has entered into force as well as the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, the tightening of sanctions against Iran by the EU and U.S. and, - the list goes on. This issue of Trade News would like to take up some of this development over the past few weeks. Above all we want to thank you for your interest in our firm and the confidence you place in us, your trust is our motivation in our daily pursuit of solutions to receive your satisfaction, which ensures us continual top spots in the rankings of Juve and Who's Who Legal. Your Foreign Trade Team at GvW Dr. Klaus Landry, Dr. Lothar Harings, Marian Niestedt, Michael Lux, Dr. Gerd Schwendinger, Dr. Hartmut Henninger, Dr. Matthias Trennt, Philipp-Christian Scheel
Customs safeguards Christmas
The struggle against product piracy goes on even in the face of the approaching Christmas Season. Two success stories from Hamburg and Bremen go to prove this.
Current Developments in Customs Law 2012/2013
This article provides an overview of the changes in the law in customs matters in 2012 and an outlook on foreseeable developments. Particularly important is the forthcoming amendment to the Regulation on Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights and the Commission's proposal to replace the current Customs Code and the - not yet applicable - Modernised Customs Code by a Regulation based on the Treaty of Lisbon. A substantial modification of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences which will take effect from 2014 has already been decided.
Free Port of Hamburg to be Abolished
The free port of Hamburg is to be abolished with effect from 1 January 2013. After abolition of the free port regulation, the regulations generally applicable to sea customs ports in the EU will apply to the Hamburg port. This will have significant effects on the customs supervision of goods traffic, customs clearance and the statutory duties of all companies concerned in Germany's largest port.
VAT exemption on intra-Community deliveries "Gelangensbestätigung" simplified after only one year
The practical difficulties of the Gelangensbestätigung are fraught with consequences: The Federal Ministry of Finance intends to simplify the Gelangensbestätigung by amending the law - only a year after it was introduced.
Agreement between the USA and the EU on mutual recognition of AEO and C-TPAT in force since 1 July 2012
After many years of negotiations between the European Commission and the USA on the mutual recognition of their security initiatives "Authorised Economic Operator" (AEO) and "Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism" (C-TPAT), the EU and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) signed a corresponding agreement on 4 May 2012 which came into force on 1 July 2012. Previously there had only been corresponding agreements between the EU and Switzerland, Norway and Japan. When signing the agreement the Head of the CBP, David V. Aguilar, expressed his hope that the customs authorities would now be able to concentrate their resources on risky movements of goods and reduce the complexity of lawful trade.
EU tightens Iran embargo
The Council of the European Union (EU) has further tightened the Iran embargo. The essential aspects of the new sanctions - which have considerable consequences for trade with Iran - are set out in the Council Decision 2012/635/CFSP of 15 October 2012. This has already been transposed into applicable law, as far as the lists of persons are concerned, by way of the Implementing Regulation (EU) No 945/2012, which was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 16 October 2012; however, the remaining parts are still not yet directly legally binding.
Modernisation of the Federal Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz)
The Federal Foreign Trade and Payments Act is to be modernised. On 15 August 2012 the Federal Government passed the draft bill of an Act to Modernise the Federal Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Außenwirtschaftsgesetzes). The main aim of the modernisation is to make the provisions clearer and to make it easier to apply the Federal Foreign Trade and Payments Act. To this end provisions which have proven superfluous or unnecessary over time will be deleted.
The CJEU further restricts the protection of legitimate expectations when claiming tariff preferences - increased risks for importers
In its judgment of 8 November 2012, C-483/11 "Lagura Vermögensverwaltung GmbH", the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) commented again on the preconditions for the protection legitimate expectations with respect to the correctness of preference certificates issued by authorities of a third country. In the "Lagura" case the exporter has ceased business which meant that the authorities were unable to subsequently verify whether the information used to issue the preference certificate was correct.
Post-clearance amendments to the export declaration
The Customs Code (CC) only permits amendments to the customs declaration - and therefore also the export declaration - after the goods have been released in very few exceptional cases. However, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has held in several judgments - most recently on 12 July 2012 - that the declarant can apply to the customs office of export to review the export declaration. If this application is accepted and if the review leads to a subsequent amendment, the declarant is treated as though the declaration had been submitted in the amended form from the outset.
Federal Fiscal Court allows screening of employees
By way of its judgment of 19 June 2012 (case no. VII R 43/11) the Federal Fiscal Court decided that the main customs offices can make authorisation of AEO status dependent on companies regularly comparing their employee data with the lists in the European Anti-Terror Regulations (EC) No 2580/2002 and 881/2002 and their amending regulations The Federal Fiscal Court has thereby created more legal certainty for companies. The companies were previously regularly faced with the dilemma of having been refused authorised economic operator (AEO) status on the grounds that they do not regularly check their employees against the terrorism lists.
The foreign trade and customs team has again received multiple awardse
The foreign trade and customs team has - as in previous years - defended its top position in the ranking by the JUVE Handbook German Commercial Law Firms 2012/2013. In addition to Dr Lothar Harings and Marian Niestedt, of particular note is the new addition to the Brussels office in the form of Rechtsanwalt Michael Lux who moved from the EU Commission to Graf von Westphalen in March.
The lawyers of the foreign trade and customs team speak regularly at the Hamburger Zollakademie (Hamburg Customs Academy).