To achieve a secure supply chain, it is important to keep illicit trade at bay.
Singapore Customs works closely with local enforcement agencies and international counterparts to enforce against different forms of illicit trade, which include:
- Duty and tax evasion
- Intellectual Property Rights infringement
- Smuggling of wildlife and their parts and derivatives protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES)
- Money-laundering and terrorist financing
- Violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions
In countering illicit trade, a whole-of-government and layered approach is adopted:
Free Trade Zones
Singapore’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) play a critical role in building Singapore’s position as a trading hub. To maintain the competitiveness of our FTZs, we need to ensure that they remain secure.
A robust regulatory regime of the FTZs has been put in place to govern the security of our FTZs.
Strict controls and limits are imposed on activities permissible within the FTZs. Transactions and activities within the FTZs must comply with all laws and regulations in Singapore, which empower government authorities to impose controls on the FTZs and undertake enforcement action such as routine checks and operations against illicit trading activities. There are no other exemptions or special treatment for FTZs operators.
Enforcement in FTZs
Singapore Customs partners enforcement agencies such as the Singapore Police Force and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to ensure the security of the FTZs, and has established operating procedures with other law enforcement agencies to act promptly on actionable intelligence on illicit trade.
Singapore Customs also cooperates with its international counterparts to help prevent and combat illicit trade in FTZs. We share information (such as passing information to the next port of call) and respond to requests for information. Such assistance is done bilaterally as well as through regional and international fora such as the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office under the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
Read about some of the regular enforcement operations conducted in the FTZs featured in Singapore Customs’ corporate magazine, inSYNC, here:
Upholding The Security Of Free Trade Zones (Oct-Dec 2017, page 10)
Singapore Customs Foils Syndicates’ Attempts To Smuggle Duty-Unpaid Cigarettes Out Of Changi Airfreight Centre (Jan-Mar 2018, pages 5 and 6)
Singapore Customs manages a suite of schemes and licences to facilitate traders’ needs, while maintaining security of our supply chain.
The Licensed Warehouse Scheme, Zero-Goods and Services Tax (ZG) Warehouse Scheme and the Secure Trade Partnership programme provide flexibility to traders conducting specific trading activities within controlled facilities.
This is in line with Singapore Customs’ pro-enterprise regulatory approach.
Visit this page for more information on our schemes and licences: https://www.customs.gov.sg/businesses/customs-schemes-licences-framework/tradefirst
One of the ZG facilities regulated by Singapore Customs is the Freeport in Singapore.
Singapore’s Freeport offers storage for goods, with GST temporarily suspended until the goods are released from Freeport. As the companies operating in Freeport are licensed under the ZG Scheme, Singapore Customs has oversight and maintains control of the activities happening in the facility.
In order to maintain control of the activities happening in the facility, companies using Freeport facilities are licensed under Singapore Customs’ ZG Scheme.
Singapore Customs has implemented an enhanced regulatory regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing risks. The strengthened measures include mandating the ZG Scheme licensees storing precious stones and metals, works of art, antiques, and watches clad with precious metal casings or precious metals (otherwise known as listed goods) to obtain, maintain, and update information on the identities of both the person with control and the person with beneficial ownership over the listed goods.
In addition, licensees are required to seek permission from Singapore Customs before storing any listed goods and they are required to screen the identities of the person with control and the person with beneficial ownership as part of the Know-Your-Customer requirements.
Regular inspections are conducted on these companies as part of the enhanced regime which serves to prevent companies from being inadvertently used as a conduit for money-laundering and terrorist-financing activities, allowing Singapore to operate as a secure trade hub.
Read more about the inspection in Singapore’s Freeport, and the enhanced regulatory regime in Singapore Customs’ corporate magazine, inSYNC: Enhanced Regulatory Regime To Combat Money Laundering And Terrorist Financing Risks