Porto, Portugual, 12.10.2019, 06:38 Uhr

F. A. Pinto

The role of OCEAN’s Customs & Taxation Working Group

A look back to 2019 and a look forward to 2020

F.A. Pinto took over the chairmanship of the OCEAN’s Working Group on Customs and Taxation in 2019. He reflects on why the work of this specialized group is more important today than ever before.  


Reducing customs clearance delays is essential

The ship supply business is complex. Adding customs clearance procedures and tax considerations to the mix make modern ship supply even more complex. However, dealing with customs & tax is essential for delivering our diverse products onto the vessel at the time when then the vessels calls.  As “just-in-time” delivery to vessels is so important, we need to do everything we can to avoid costly delays at the border.

What we do

The OCEAN Working Group for Customs & Taxation is contributing to speedy border clearance and delay reduction. We do this by analyzing and commenting on the legislative and policy issues which are developed and implemented by the EU decision-makers, scrutinizing, in particular, the work of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Addressing customs & taxation law and policy for more than a decade

OCEAN’s Working Group for Customs & Taxation has been around for a long time. After a long period as Vice-Chairman, I am honoured to chair since I took over from our long-standing Chairman, Peter de Haas Jr. He has let the working group from strength to strength.  I am so grateful for all his commitment and hard work over the last decade.  Thank you, Peter.

Deep customs & taxation expertise in the context of ship supply

Our members are senior customs managers, indirect tax professionals, and even leaders and business owners, working on a daily business within a ship supply industry within the European Union. As a result, our members have deep practical knowledge of how European customs policy and legislation impacts their operations. They can explain how the EU’s Union Customs Code or electronic customs impacts the European ship supply industry. So, when new initiatives are being discussed, our group of experts will consider it and comment on it to provide deep matter expertise to the OCEAN Board and the EU decision-maker.

A close look at the EU’s Trade Contact Group

OCEAN has been a member of the EU Commissions’ DG TAXUD’s Trade Contact Group (TCG). This group provides a platform for such regular consultations at Union level on the development and implementation of customs related issues and developments of customs policy. We are delighted to be part of this and value the close collaboration with have with the EU.

The focus of 2019

The work of the working group involved mainly to keep attention to the activity of DG-TAXUD as regards the UCC, and in particular, the guidance of ship supply and article 269, 2 c, what we call the “ship supply article.”. The focus here is to make sure that there is a harmonious interpretation of the customs regulation across the EU as regards ship supply to make sure that we have a genuine Single Market for ship supply.  Also, the group exceptionally considered the new legislation of DG-SANTE, as regards the systems for tobacco traceability and security features.

The OCEAN Working Group met to discuss these matters on 10 October 2019 and took several strategic decisions. These were presented to the OCEAN Board the following day, the ultimate decision-making body for all matters that concern European ship supply.  

Outlook 2020

As the new EU Commission is taking up their work, the work with customs and taxation never stops, especially if the UK leaves the EU in 2020. This uncertainty needs to be proactively managed. Advancing the Customs Union will be of strategic importance to the EU by way of implementing the UCC and the customs electronic projects, so our work in these fields also need to evolve. We need to discuss, in particular, if just having the EU’s guidance document on ship supply is still sufficient or if a more rigorous legislative framework needs to be considered.  

Engaging with the OCEAN Working Group

It is important for me to highlight that engaging with the Working Group is easy. We are always interested in exploring customs and taxation issues that matter to the ship supply industry. If you wish to suggest a topic for our consideration, please do not hesitate to contact us at customs@shipsupply.eu

We look forward to an exciting 2020.


Best regards


Fernando Alves Pinto