Kenyan Shippers Battle Customs Cargo Tracking System

Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) has written to the tax authority seeking for a meeting to iron out challenges arising from the electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS).
Though it expressed support for the system’s principle as it tries to reduce costs in terms of cargo loss through diversion, pilferage and eliminating physical escort of trucks, the council said the manner of introduction had raised many concerns.
Chief executive officer Gilbert Langat said KSC had written to Customs Commissioner Wambui Namu proposing a meeting be held with Kenya Revenue Authority to sort out the issues.
"While we await their confirmation, we wish to collate a list of issues that members have with the said system to enable them to prepare responses and make the meeting more productive," he said in a circular sent to KSC members.
He said the two vendors licensed by KRA lack the capacity to install the devices in the large number of trucks operating leading to slow cargo off take from the port of Mombasa.
KRA had initially appointed Navisat Telematics for the job.
A containerised truck required a tracking reader at a cost Sh68,000 and two electronic seals each Sh20,000 which transporters said is above the market rate.
Truckers were also to pay Sh2,500 a month as a recurrent cost.

Tanzania Goes Back to Pre-Shipment Inspection   
All Tanzania imports will have to undergo pre-shipment inspection as the country turns against ‘destination inspection’ which has proved to be ineffective in curbing dumping of fake products estimated to be worth billions of US dollars.
The director general of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Mr Charles Ekerege, said the tender will be floated in September for interested and experienced firms to undertake pre-shipment inspection overseas expected to begin in December 2010 or early next year.
He said this at the international workshop on Conformity Assessment in Dar es Salaam last week that was organized by the TBS and the International Standards Organization for some 20 countries from Eastern and Southern Africa. Ekerege said Tanzania, that imports over US$7b worth of commodities, was reverting to pre-shipment which was abandoned in 1999 because ‘destination inspection’ is ineffective to prevent substandard imports from entering the country.
Kenya adopted the pre-shipment mode in 2005 while Uganda has hinted on its re-introduction.
The destination inspection was also adding to the problem of cargo congestion at Dar es Salaam port and other entry points as the verification of value and quality by state institutions takes long.
The Dar port has increasingly been turned into a storage facility instead of being a through port, thus increasing importers’ cost of doing business from demurrage charges.
The change from destination inspection to pre-shipment inspection will affect all imports.

Russian PM, Putin Moves To Increase Import Tariffs   
Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin has announced plans to increase tariffs on imported vehicles, Moscow Times reported on Tuesday, citing an interview of Putin on the Vesta 24 television channel.
The move is part of efforts to secure investment from overseas manufacturers, Automotive World reported on Tuesday
The current import tariff on new vehicles stands at 25 per cent. Although Putin has not committed to a timeline or indicated how much the increase would be, he stressed that foreign OEMs have now been warned that they will face higher tariffs if they do not build locally.
A number of leading OEMs already have their own operations in the country. Renault gained a foothold by acquiring a stake in local OEM AvtoVAZ, while Daimler has a collaboration with KamAZ and Fiat with local player Sollers.
However, plans to increase the tariff may jeopardise the country‘s efforts to join the World Trade Organisation. Russia previously agreed to cut import tariffs on cars to 15 per cent over seven years, starting from the time it joins the WTO.

MSC plans fleet expansion     
According to French sources, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) plans to take delivery of 30 new 14,000-TEU container ships over the next three years. MSC chairman Gianluigi Aponte reportedly acknowledged the delivery of 13 or 14 of these superships this year, 10 more in 2011 and another nine in 2012.
However, said Aponte, the capacity of the company’s fleet would increase only by 10% at that time, as MSC would withdraw an 8,000-TEU ship for every 14,000-TEU vessel that enters service. MSC’s capacity currently stands at 1.7 million TEU. Unlike some of the other lines MSC would not be increasing the number of services between the Far East and Europe to utilize the new tonnage.
Aponte revealed that MSC carried 10.5 million TEU last year, which he said was more than what was carried during the pre-crisis year of 2007 although the company’s turnover had fallen to below its 2007 level.

Israeli National Carrier ZIM sails back into profit    
Israeli’s national carrier ZIM is the latest container line to report having returned to profitability after it posted a net income of US $ 3 million for the second quarter of this year, compared with a year-on-year loss of $ 186 million from the second quarter last year.
Zim is reporting improved cargo volumes, higher freight rates, improved incomes from subsidiaries and income from ‘uncompleted voyages’. It says freight rates increased 26% from an average of $1,057 per TEU to $1,328 for the second quarter of 2010, during which Zim carried 547,000 TEU, up from 438,000 TEU for the same period last year.