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ESC challenges Blue Belt plan

[ July 16, 2013   //   ]

The European Shippers’ Council (ESC) has broadly welcomed the Blue Belt project to reduce red tape on consignments moving by sea in Europe but points out that, if not implemented wisely, it could increase rather than reduce administrative burdens for ships operating within the European Union.

The current proposal would only be acceptable for European shippers if changes are made on VAT at export. Currently, VAT is always returned by the seaport of departure but the Commission plans to make the VAT refund provisional – and the ESC is “absolutely against this”. It points out that the shipper or exporter is often unaware of further sales later in the supply chain. Uncertainty about VAT refunds would be a much greater disadvantage than any potential benefits from the Blue Belt project, ESC believes.

Providing extra information about goods in every port for the e-Manifest would mean an increase in administrative burden that would more than offset that saved by eliminating unnecessary customs clearance. The ESC also pointed out that it had previously questioned the necessity of developing a whole new electronic system, given the fact that this data is already available.

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