Blog/News

Global Governance of Letters of Credit and the UCP600

By: Slava Vernidub, Express Trade Capital

Every year, trade transactions exceeding US$2 trillion are conducted under UCP600, totaling some 11% of all import/export transactions.­­1 The primary goal of the UCP600 is to ease cross-border trade by providing global uniform rules regulating the issuance and usage of letters of credit (“LCs”).

To date, the UCP (“Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits”) rules are adopted in 175 countries. UCP rules are issued by the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) commission on Banking Technique and Practice.  It is important to note that the ICC is a private international organization of industry experts, not a governmental body. The UCP600 is arguably the most widely accepted set of private rules for international trade ever developed.

How is UCP600 different from previous UCP publications?

Since the UCP was first established in 1933, it underwent several revisions, each reflecting the evolution of trade finance practices across banking, insurance, and transport industries. The objective was to create a set of internationally uniform rules to remove confusion caused by individual countries promoting disparate laws and practices governing the use of letters of credit. By guiding banks and other players engaged in global trade, the UCP enables greater trust between multinational actors and drastically increases the reliability, frequency and efficiency of international trade transactions. As of today, the UCP600 is the latest published revision issued on July 1, 2007 and includes 39 Articles.

In contrast to previous UCP publications, UCP600 not only lays out guidelines, but also includes definitions (Article 2) and interpretations (Article 3) on how to apply certain provisions of the code. By providing clear, defined terms and information specifying the role of banks in letters of credit, UCP600 removes ambiguity and provides a more concise and precise set of regulations to govern LCs. As a result, compared to transactions governed by previous versions of the UCP, transactions conducted under UCP600 are more streamlined, less risky and require fewer amendments.

Aiming to adapt the evolving practice of submitting electronic documents under letters of credit, UCP600 introduced the eUCP which has 12 articles. The goal of the eUCP is to ‘accommodate presentation of electronic records alone or in combination with paper documents’.2 However, for a letter of credit to be subject to eUCP, it must explicitly indicate so in the instrument. Letters of credit subject to eUCP are also subject to UCP600 even if this is not explicitly stated in the letter of credit. If there is a conflict, eUCP will prevail in situations where it will produce a different result from UCP.

How is UCP600 beneficial for trade transactions?

1. UCP600 levels the playing field by creating one set of operating rules for all international parties. This makes trade more inclusive because it allows SMEs to participate in international markets and integrate global supply chains.  SMEs can now rely on banks and counterparties to follow the UCP600 rather than relying on their network, market position, banking relationships and ability to exercise legal muscle, to hold sway over their trade partners when disputes arise.

2. UCP600 resolves disagreements without court intervention, providing more fair, cost-effective, and efficient global trade transactions. Banks and other LC issuing institutions can perform better as neutral third parties to decide issues that are resolved by the language of UCP600 rather than deferring and referring issues for resolution to courts for fear of incurring liability.

3. UCP600 clearly identifies the roles of parties involved and their responsibilities, reducing risk and increasing transparency and therefore speed for exporters and importers who otherwise would have no recourse beyond suing their trade partners and corresponding banks in courts of foreign jurisdiction.

4. A notable feature of UCP600 is the irrevocable nature of the letter of credit. An irrevocable letter of credit cannot be revoked by the issuing bank or at the request of the letter of credit applicant. It assures the parties involved that the guarantee offered by an LC cannot be rescinded once issued unless all parties mutually agree to cancel it. An LC is irrevocable by default, even if not explicitly stated.

For a letter of credit to adhere to UCP600, it must specify so (unless it states that it is subject to the eUCP in which case, both apply). This ensures that all parties involved understand how their performance under the instrument will be governed. If a transaction requires, certain parts of the UCP600 can be omitted but such exceptions must be specifically and unambiguously written into the LC.

If you would like to find out more about LCs, the UCP600 and how it could benefit your trade transactions, reach out to slava@expresstradecapital.com. A comprehensive understanding of UCP600 will help both small and large businesses mitigate risks and conquer new international markets.

To make sure your LCs are issued under UCP600, reach out to us. We issue LCs, SBLCs, BGs, RWAs, and Proof of Funds. Contact us to understand which instrument is best suited for your business needs.

Sources:

1. Collyer, Gary. Guide to Documentary Credits. The London Institute of Banking & Finance, 2017

2. International Chamber of Commerce. Supplement to the Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits for Electronic Presentations (eUCP), 2007

International Chamber of Commerce. Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits, Publication 600 (UCP600), 2007

“UCP600.” ShippingCollege,

shippingcollege.co.uk/j365/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=193

“Global Rules.” International Chamber of Commerce,

iccwbo.org/global-issues-trends/banking-finance/global-rules/

Thanuja, Rodrigo. “UCP 500 to 600: A forward movement.” Murdoch University Law Review, vol. 18, no. 2, 2011,

research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/48300/80083_1.pdf

Badlis, Baziz. “UCP600 & UCP500 Compared.”

academia.edu/11329530/DIFFERENCE_BETWEEN_UCP_500_V_UCP600

Castaneda, Cristina. “Comparative Study of UCP500 and UCP600 – Approach to Negotiation and Preclusion.” Jan. 2007,

picadoyleon.com/en/pdf/COMPARATIVE.pdf

Chan, Jeremy. “Banks see uneven digitisation in trade.” The Global Treasurer, 24 November 2020,

theglobaltreasurer.com/2020/11/24/banks-see-uneven-digitisation-in-trade/

Manzella, John. “The New UCP 600: Better Rules to Better Facilitate International Trade.” The Manzella Report, 1 Jan. 2007,

manzellareport.com/index.php/trade-finance/438-the-new-ucp-600-better-rules-to-better-facilitate-international-trade


CBP Issues Regionwide Withhold Order Xingang China Cotton and Tomato Products

Effective January 13, 2021, the CBP has issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) that all U.S. ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjian Uygur Autonomous Region. The WRO will detain the following products from China’s Xinjian Uygur: Apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.

The CBP will begin detaining shipments that “exploit forced labor laws at any point in their supply chain, including the production or harvesting of the raw material”. The agency identified the following forced labor indicators through the course of its investigation: debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.

Notice of WRO 1/13/2021

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-issues-region-wide-withhold-release-orderproducts-made-slave

CBP Forced Labor Information

https://www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/forcedlabor?_ga=2.198706028.2124264278.1610577086-1520727500.1541643165

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at contact@expresstradecapital.com.


Essential Updates for Businesses & Individuals

As each new day unfolds during the current COVID-19 crisis, we are continuing to keep you updated on important information that we believe is relevant.

We encourage you to research all your options and reach out to your account officer to discuss any issues you are facing and let us know how we can help you during these challenging times.

Financial Assistance Programs

Due to the market disruption caused by the COVID-19 virus, many stores are postponing, rejecting and even canceling orders, while others are delaying payment on existing receivables. We understand that these issues will cause cash flow problems for many of our clients.

There are federal, state and local public resources available to help businesses that are experiencing COVID-19 issues:

•  The Small Business Administration offers consulting and loan programs to help small businesses: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

•  For NYC based businesses, NYC Small Business Services offer programs that include interest free loans and grants to help small businesses cover payroll and other necessary expenses: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/businesses/covid19-business-outreach.page

•  For assistance outside of New York, please check with your state and local agencies as well as local SBA offices (listed at the bottom of the SBA website provided)

Duty Extensions

US Customs and Border Protection is accepting requests for a 7-day duty payment extension. Interested parties should send requests (name of importer and IOR#) to Director Randy Mitchell at randy.mitchell@cbp.dhs.gov.

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), an industry group serving importers and exporters, has asked Customs for a 90-day tolling or deferral period, and Customs is considering the request.

IRS Pushes Tax Date to July 15

At a press conference held late Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the in addition to the extension on the Federal tax payment deadline, the filing deadline has also been delayed by 90 days.

•  This postponement applies to any individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, and companies or corporations.

•  Taxpayers do not have to file Forms 4868 or 7004 for an extension.

•  There is no limitation on the amount of the payment that may be postponed.

•  No interest or penalty is due during the 90-day extension. 

•  Interest & penalties on postponed Federal income tax filings and payments will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.

State Filings

State filing information is still being updated for all states, including New York. For further information on State filing updates, check out : https://www.aicpa.org/content/dam/aicpa/advocacy/tax/downloadabledocuments/coronavirus-state-filing-relief.pdf.


CBP CONSIDERING DUTY PAYMENT EXTENSIONS

In response to the difficulties facing American businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated control measures, Customs and Border Protection is contemplating granting relief to importers.  In consideration of requests from the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association Customs Committee, chaired by GEODIS’ SVP of Trade Services and Government Relations Mary Jo Muoio, along with other industry group requests, CBP is looking at ways to provide flexibility to and extensions for a wide variety of deadlines importers face with customs obligations.

Specifically, CBP is considering granting a ninety-day extension of duty payments.  At this time CBP is working to understand authorities and mechanisms which may allow this and specifics are not available. In the meantime, CBP is reviewing extraordinary requests on a case-by-case basis.  As of today, lacking specific individual permissions, duty and related obligations remain in place.  We expect more information in the near future and will alert our clients as soon as known. If you would like to seek temporary duty-payment relief from CBP, please contact us immediately.  Initially, this relief would be for importers having duty payments due in the next week; if broader CBP issued extensions are not granted, we will pursue additional case-by-case requests.

 If you have questions about your duty payments, bond obligations or challenges meeting other CBP commitments, contact your account representative at Express Trade Capital, Inc. 

If You Import from China – US and China have come to a decision regarding tariffs

Carli Valinoti, Express Trade Capital

Chinese President Xi Jinping with President Donald Trump in June in Japan. They are the primary actors in the longest-running, most serious trade war in history.
via Getty Images/WSJ

After months of negotiation, the US and China have announced that they have come to an agreement on trade. The US will cut the current taxes on $120 billion of Chinese goods from 15% down to 7.5% and has decided to not move forward with adding tariffs to the rest of the $160 billion Chinese goods. This will take effect on December 15, 2019. A 25% tariff rate will continue to stay in place on approximately $250 billion worth of US goods. In return, China has agreed to increase its purchases of US goods and services along with around $40-50 billion in agriculture products.

For questions on how this affects your imports from China, contact our logistics office for further assistance. Contact@expresstradecapital.com


Turkey Steel Tariff Returning to 50%

President Trump announced that Turkey’s tariff rate for steel products under the Section 232 would be returning to 50% in response to a military invasion from Turkey into Syria. The steel tariffs on Turkish steel was previously increased to 50% in August 2018 and then reduced back to 20% in May 2019.

In addition to the increased steel tariffs, the president advised that the U.S. will cease trade talks with Turkey and will impose additional sanctions. In May, the U.S. terminated Turkey’s participation in the Generalized Systems of Preferences (GSP).


Section 301 Tariffs Increase to 30 Percent on Chinese Goods Suspended

After meeting with Vice Premier Liu He of the People’s Republic of China, President Trump announced in a news release on October 11, 2019 that the duty increase from 25% to 30% on List 1, 2, and 3 products would be suspended. A final decision will be made later regarding the additional duties scheduled to go into effect December 15, 2019 for List 4B commodities.

Information regarding the phase one deal can be found in the White House news release here.


IF YOU IMPORT FROM THE E.U.

Following a World Trade Organization decision paving the way, the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) has published a list of products form E.U. origin which will be subject to additional duty rates of 10% or 25% ad valorem, effective October 18, 2019.

We expect that a FEDERAL REGISTER notice will be published with the details including confirming the definition of the October 18 effective date; effective dates are commonly based on the date of entry. 

A link to the list of products, countries and additional tariff rates may be accessed at:  https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/301Investigations/EU_Large_Civil_Aircraft_Final_Product_List.pdf

As with other tariffs, close coordination with your carrier and EXPRESS representative is needed to avoid duties assessed to shipments arriving before the effective date.  EXPRESS Trade Capital, Inc. is available to answer your questions, help assess impact to your business and discuss mitigation strategies. Reach out to us at logistics@expresstradecapital.com


If you Import from China

By; Carli Valinoti, Express Trade Capital 

After meeting with President Xi over the weekend, President Trump announced decisions regarding the bilateral trade dispute. The President announced that while current tariffs will remain in place, he will not move forward with additional tariffs as negotiations continue. Therefore, there are no immediate plans to implement Tranche or List 4 trade-remedy tariffs.

The United States Trade Representative recently concluded seven days of hearings on the proposed List 4. The testimony and comments solicited from the public as part of the List 4 review may influence the products to be included and tariff rate if and when any additional trade-remedy actions are taken. But for now, any action on List 4 is on hold.

If you import from China, Express Trade Capital is here to assist with trade strategies to minimize the impact, apply for exemptions, and process refund claims where exemptions have been granted. Click here to contact Express Trade Capital for expertise and support. We are here to help.


IF YOU IMPORT FROM MEXICO

By; Carli Valinoti, Express Trade Capital 

Late Friday night the President announced successful negotiations with Mexico.  With a signed agreement addressing illegal immigration, the President has suspended indefinitely the planned tariffs against Mexico. 

The 5% tariff on goods from Mexico will not go into effect on June 10, 2019.