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Ukraine – Customs fines at Nikolaev

 

The Correspondent in Ukraine, Dias Marine Consulting, has indicated that disproportionate fines are being imposed upon vessels calling at Nikolaev Sea Port.

The Correspondent reports that Customs Authorities are performing surveys of vessels’ bunker tanks during inward clearance and where the survey indicates a difference to the figure previously declared by the Master, the subject vessel receives a heavy fine for alleged contraband. Recent fines for shortages between 30mts and 140mts have ranged between USD 50,000 – USD 300,000.

Members should also be alert to the possibility that Customs may be auditing ships’ declarations of stores and consumables, as well as bunkers, then imposing fines where any error has been made in the declaration.

In the event that a vessel is to call at Nikolaev Sea Port, Members are advised to liaise closely with their local agent in order to try to comply with the local requirements and thus have the best chance of avoiding a fine.

07 Oct 2014

China – Tax on “foreign” parties conducting international transportation business

 

Members trading to China and entering into contracts with Chinese entities may already be familiar with the legal requirement to pay tax on sums due from international transportation. Previously the legal requirement was not fully codified and not rigorously enforced. However, in June 2014, the State Administration of Taxation of China issued a Notice on “Provisional Measures on the Collection of Tax on Non-Resident Taxpayers engaged in International Transportation Business” (the Notice), which sets out the requirement for non resident enterprises to pay tax and which seeks to clarify and improve enforcement of the tax against “foreign” parties involved in the international transportation business.   

PRC lawyers, Wang Jing & Co, have provided a summary advice on the contents of the Notice (click here), including an outline of who should pay the tax, how it is calculated and how it is collected.

Whilst Enterprise Income Tax is payable for “all transportation into or from Chinese ports”, there is still uncertainty as to the actual scope and implementation of the Notice. In order to help further clarify the position, Wang Jang have also provided answers (where possible) to questions that have been frequently asked about the Notice (click here) since publication.

Given the potential tax liability, Members should therefore review their existing charters with Chinese entities to determine which party is ultimately to bear liability for the tax and consider making express provisions in future charters. If Members are to bear the tax liability, Members will of course need to ensure that they comply with the requirements in the Notice.

11 Sep 2014

Sierra Leone – Port Closures/Ebola virus

 

Members will already be aware of the risks and precautions to be taken in relation to the Ebola virus affecting some West African countries, see the Club’s News Alert (click here).

Members should note that we have been advised by the Budd Group, who have offices in a number of African countries, that all Sierra Leone ports will be closed from 19 to 21 September 2014. The closure is due to a government curfew preventing people from leaving their homes on those dates in order to try to reduce the risk of contagion by the Ebola virus. The measure is to be enforced by the military.

10 Sep 2014

West Africa – Ebola virus disease

 

The World Health Organisation (“WHO”) has issued a statement on the Ebola virus disease following an Emergency Committee meeting that took place on 6/7 August. The statement (click here) declares the Ebola virus outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” requiring “a coordinated international response to stop and reverse the spread of Ebola“. It also states that there would be no general ban on international travel or trade.

We understand that most West African ports are currently operating normally. In the circumstances, it is vital that Members proceeding to West African ports - especially Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone which are at the centre of the Ebola virus outbreak - ensure that the Master and crew are aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions. In particular, Members calling at West African ports should also keep a vigilant watch to prevent stowaways gaining access on board and conduct searches prior to departure.

Generally, Members are advised to follow the recommendations recently issued by the International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, as follows:-

  1. The Master should ensure that the crew are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk.

  2. The ISPS requirements on ensuring that unauthorised personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.

  3. The Master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave whilst in impacted ports.

  4. The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of an affected country.

  5. After departure the crew should be aware of the symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care.

A full copy of the notice can be accessed by clicking here and further details of the Ebola virus disease on WHO website can be accessed by clicking here.

Vessels who have called at a country in which the Ebola virus disease is prevalent should also consider checking with the next ports of call to ensure that any additional declarations and requirements can be complied with in a timely manner.

08 Aug 2014

Ukraine & Crimea – Port of Kerch

 

Further to the Club’s recent News Alerts on the official closure of Crimean ports by Ukrainian authorities on 16 July 2014 (click here) and EU sanctions banning the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea (click here), we have received from the Correspondent in Ukraine, Dias Marine Consulting, the below clarification of the situation at the Port of Kerch in Crimea and loading at anchorage:-

Port of Kerch

These days we are getting many inquiries in respect of the loading operations in the port of Kerch. To help our Principals and their Members we would like to explain the situation. In Kerch loading of the cargo (grain, in particular) is carried out at the anchorage, far away from the shore. Ships at this anchorage do not get “free pratique”, in other words they are not cleared by the Immigration, Customs and Sanitary authorities. Thus, formally it is considered that they do not call Kerch port and do not enter the Crimean territory. At least neither port’s registries nor ships’ logs bear any official information/notes about any ships’ calls at the port. Such practice had developed long before the annexation of Crimea and was then explained, I believe, by mere commercial reasons as a ship at an anchorage does not have to pay any port dues/charges, which were always high in the Ukrainian ports.

To summarize what was said above we can conclude that for the present day the ships which were staying under loading operation at the anchorage of the Kerch port were not entered in the black-list of the Ukrainian authorities.  

VERY IMPORTANT

It should be borne in mind that the anchorage point of the Kerch port is about 4 miles from the shore. As per the Russian legislation a 12 miles zone is considered as territorial waters of the country. Formally, foreign ships may only be within this area in case of transit passage or proceeding to the port of loading/discharge. As Russia had annexed the Crimea its laws are now in force on this territory. Therefore, loading of the ships at an anchorage point of the port of Kerch is still effected within the territorial waters of Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation. Taking this into account one can arrive to a conclusion that there is still a possibility that the ships which are/were staying under loading operations at a Kerch anchorage may happen to be inserted into the said black-list as the situation in this regard is ambiguous and can be considered by the Ukrainian authorities in different ways.”

Members ordered under existing charters to load at Kerch or who are considering calling at Kerch in the future should review the position carefully bearing in mind the uncertain situation for vessels calling there, as well as the EU sanctions banning the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea.
 

22 Jul 2014

Libya – Port Situation

 

As Members may already be aware from various press reports, the fighting between militias has been intensifying, with Tripoli airport closed after being attacked by rockets earlier this week.

The Club has received the below information on port conditions from the correspondent in Tripoli, Germa Shipping & Stevedoring Co:

  1. All oil terminals/ports,including Zawia, are working. The only exception is Brega oil terminal which is currently on strike until further notice;

  2. At the moment, the commercial ports of Benghazi, Tobruk, Misurata and Alkhoms are operating normally;

  3. The fighting between militias continues in Tripoli and Benghazi. Whilst it is possible for vessels to call at Tripoli, loading and/or discharging operations are highly unlikely to take place due to the unavailability of labour/stevedores.

Given the volatile situation, Members calling at Libya should carefully assess their contractual obligations and remedies in light of the current ongoing instability. Further, Members considering fixing vessels to call in Libya should give due consideration to contractual measures that might be taken to try to avoid and/or negate future issues arising out of such instability. Members are also reminded that Libya is still subject to financial sanctions by the UK, EU, US and UN, including the recent UN ban on illicit crude oil exports from Libya and authorising inspection of suspect ships on high seas (to access the UN press release of March 2014 click here). Members should therefore continue to exercise due diligence when engaging in activities with Libyan entities and/or connections.

18 Jul 2014

Ukraine – Closure of Crimean Ports

 

Members will already be aware of the sensitive political situation in Crimea and the conditions at various ports as reported in the Club’s recent News Alerts (click here). In addition, the Club’s News Alert of 8 July 2014 (click here) drew Members’ attention to the EU Sanctions banning the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol.

The Correspondent in Ukraine, Dias Marine Consulting, now reports that the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure has issued Directive No.255 “On Closure of Sea Ports” (click here for the Ukrainian Government press release and click here for the Correspondent’s report). The Directive, due to come into force on 15 July 2014, officially closes all ports in the territory of Crimea on the basis that the area is temporarily occupied. This includes, but is not limited to, the ports of Kerch, Theodosia, Sevastopol, Yalkta and Evpatoria.

The Correspondent also advises that, where vessels call in the Ukraine after having traded to/from a Crimean port, the consequences could include (but potentially not be limited to) delays, detention and/or  fines for both vessel and crew. It is presently unclear what (if any) administrative measures may be implemented in the Ukraine to avoid such consequences.

Given the above, careful consideration should be given to the legal implications for vessels currently due to call at Crimean ports under existing charters/contracts, both in terms of:

  1. EU Sanctions banning the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol; and

  2. the consequences of such a call should the vessel later call in the Ukraine.

Further, going forward, consideration should be given to contractual measures that might be taken to try to avoid and/or negate such problems in future charters.
 

16 Jul 2014

Crimea & Sevastopol – EU Sanctions

 

In view of the political unrest and developments in Crimea and Ukraine (as reported in the Club’s previous News Alert of 17 April 2014 – click here), the EU has implemented EU Council Decision 2014/386/CFSP (click here) and Council Regulation 692/2014 (click here) dated 23 June 2014 to impose the following sanctions:

  1. A ban taking effect from 25 June 2014 against the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol; and

  2. A ban on the direct or indirect provision of financing or financial  assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance services relating to the import of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol.

There is an exemption for goods which the Ukrainian authorities have confirmed originate from Ukraine and there is a provision allowing for execution (until 26 September 2014) of trade contracts concluded before 25 June 2014 and ancillary contracts necessary for their execution is permitted. Those seeking to perform obligations under such contracts will need to comply with the relevant notification requirements i.e. 10 days advance notice to the competent authority of the Member State.

Members involved in trade with Crimea, Ukraine or Russia should take care to comply with the above and, further, to continue to monitor the situation carefully given the possibility of further sanctions in the future. In particular, the Club takes the opportunity to remind Members to exercise due diligence and ensure that the trade/transaction is lawful and the parties to it are not designated entities (see News Alert of 7 March 2014 regarding the designated persons – click here), otherwise this may give rise to an issue with Club cover.
 

08 Jul 2014

International Group - Annual Review - 2013/14

 

The International Group Annual Review 2013/14 was published recently and can be accessed by clicking here. The Review covers many of the key activities undertaken by the Group during the last P&I policy year and includes summaries of the work carried out by a number of its Working Groups on a range of topical issues, including the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and Solid Bulk Cargo Liquefaction, which may be of interest to Members.

21 May 2014

News Alerts Archive

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