There have been several new developments worthwhile to be notified since our last blog entry. Not always the BIG news, I agree, but still good to know.

Swiss-China FTA:

Today, the Swiss Customs authorities have published an update about the direct consignment rule of the Swiss-China FTA (see circular). For consignments transported by sea (from European ports and/or via Hong Kong or Macao) China Customs does not require a non-manipulation certificate anymore if one single transport document is provided, covering the Swiss (EU port?) – China route. Moreover, the additional information about the details of the transport itinerary and the number of the Swiss export customs declaration for approved exporters is no longer necessary. If there is still more than one transport document available, the requirements regarding the non-manipulation certificate and the provision of additional information remains applicable. Two points have to be highlighted:

1) The wording of the circular is confusing and unclear: should the transport document cover the  Swiss – China itinerary (as mentioned in the title to 2.2.1 of the circular)? Or cover the itinerary from the port in the EU to the destination in China (as mentioned in the first sentence following the title 2.2.1)? To be on the safe side, we recommend to cover the route Swiss-China.

2) It is unclear what „a single transport document“ means. According to our experience in Asia and depending on the practice of the local customs authority, a bill of lading may not always be sufficient to maintain the origin status of the goods in a transit location, as it is assumed the goods may be altered. We have seen customs authorities requiring a non-manipulation certificate that ensures the goods being under customs supervision, hence not being altered, maintaining its origin status. In practice and depending on the applicable FTA a through bill of lading could be sufficient to avoid a non-manipulation certificate, maintaining the origin status of the goods. The practice will show how this will work between Switzerland and China.

Swiss – EU FTA:

As per 1 February 2016 the protocol nr. 3 of the Swiss – EU FTA will be replaced by the Rules of Origin according to the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin (PEM Convention). The Rules of Origin are the same as the one under the Euro-Med preferential rules of origin. With this new implementation, diagonal cumulation between Switzerland, EU, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia will be possible.

EU-Vietnam FTA:

The legal text of the often-discussed (click here) FTA between the EU and Vietnam has been published: EU-Vietnam FHA.

Interesting it the strategic approach of the EU. The unsuccessful FTA between EU and ASEAN in 2009 is replaced by bilateral FTAs the EU is concluding with individual ASEAN member states. In addition, the (by right smartly) negotiated cumulation provision in the FTAs will allow the EU to interconnect the various negotiated bilateral FTAs (in terms of trade in goods).