E-Commerce, Market insights, VAT | 25. April 2023

Singapore leads the logistics index, Germany in second place

According to the global logistics index, Singapore is currently ranked the best globally, with Germany close behind. Germany plans to phase out paper invoices by 2025 to keep up with the growing trend of social commerce. The EU Trader Portal has been introduced to simplify customs processes. However, concerns have been raised by the EESC regarding the Commission's proposed ViDA Plan. Portugal has temporarily reduced VAT on essential foods, while in Switzerland, VAT rates are set to increase in 2024, with new forms being issued in preparation. by

Singapore has overtaken Germany as the world logistics champion in the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) 2023. The LPI study, compiled by the World Bank, covers 139 countries and measures the difficulty of re-establishing reliable supply chain links and structural factors such as the quality of logistics services, trade and transport-related infrastructure and border controls.

China secured the best ranking among the BRICS countries at 20th, followed by South Africa at 24th, India at 38th, Brazil at 51st and the Russian Federation at 95th, with Libya coming in last at 139th.

The LPI 2023 includes enhanced data, consisting of the survey-based LPI and new key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the actual pace of global trade. The overall average LPI score remained broadly stable despite the Covid-19 pandemic and global supply chain crises.

The study shows that logistics performance does not depend on wealth. Countries with medium wealth performing consistently in all six LPI components could outperform their peers and more advanced countries. The most significant delays in the international movement of goods occur when containers are held up at the point of origin or destination, such as ports, airports or multimodal facilities. Investments in port productivity, customs modernisation and new technologies can improve reliability.

Paper Invoices to Fade Out in Germany by 2025

Germany is set to mandate B2B e-invoicing by 2025, per a draft proposal circulated among key business stakeholders, reports marosavat.com. The proposed e-invoicing will align with the European standard and follow Directive 2014/55/EU. Changes include a new definition of electronic invoicing, making e-invoicing the default system, and restricting using paper invoices. The standard format will be CEN 16931, with extended content requirements. Businesses can provide feedback to the BMF until 8 May.

German merchants miss out on the social commerce boom

The study by social media analysis provider Agorapulse reveals that German retail companies are not fully exploiting the potential of social commerce. This is often because marketing budgets are not invested in the appropriate formats and channels in a targeted manner.

Compared to companies from the USA, France and Great Britain, which post much more frequently, German retailers are considered “post lazy”. The study also indicates that German retailers insufficiently analyse user behaviour on social media platforms and adapt their strategy accordingly.

On Instagram, reels achieve twice as much engagement as other post types, but they only account for about 13% of all posts. Instead, companies use photo posts 60 per cent of the time on Instagram, while photos account for over 80 per cent of posts on Facebook. At the same time, videos on Facebook deliver better interactions than photos.

Another aspect of the study is the use of hashtags. On Instagram, hashtags lead to more reach, while on Facebook, they negatively influence reach and engagement. Nevertheless, German retailers use hashtags in over 50 per cent of Facebook posts and over 80 per cent on Instagram.

Agorapulse’s “Social Media in Retail” study focuses on Facebook and Instagram, as these two platforms had the highest relevance for reaching consumers in 2022. The data analysis was conducted from 1 September to 31 December 2022.

New EU Trader Portal simplifies customs processes

Since 22 February 2023, the new service “EU Trader Portal and Identity Management” has been available in the German Customs Portal. It replaces the previous maintenance of certificates in the EU application UUM&DS and is the national application for UUM&DS in Germany. The service enables the management of certificates for access to the EU Trader Portal and communication with the EU Commission, for example, for ICS2. From 29 June 2023, all certificates must be managed via this service. Previous procedures with application form 05700 are only valid until 28 June 2023. Companies must re-deposit their representations deposited in UUM&DS if they have used the previous procedure.

EESC Disputes Commission’s ViDA Plan

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has expressed concerns over the Commission’s proposed VAT changes, stating that it misses the chance to align VAT treatment for goods and services, which would have eased the administrative burden on businesses, particularly SMEs. The EESC also believes the two-day reporting deadline for intra-Community supplies is unreasonably short, potentially creating a barrier to trade. Furthermore, the EESC argues that summary invoices should not be eliminated and that personal and sensitive business data must be protected when exchanged between tax authorities.

Portugal Temporarily Cuts VAT on Essential Foods

Portugal has announced a temporary zero VAT rate on essential food products from 18 April to 31 October 2023. The measure applies to imports and domestic supplies, covering healthy foodstuffs such as fruits, vegetables, oils, fish, and meat. Additionally, the scope of the 6% reduced VAT rate has been extended to include more products and services, such as canned fish, vegetable-based drinks and yoghurts, bicycle sales and repairs, and access to cultural events. The registration threshold for established companies will increase progressively from 2023 to 2025, ultimately reaching €15,000.

Swiss VAT Rates to Rise in 2024; New Forms Issued

Switzerland is set to increase its VAT rates from 1 January 2024, prompting the Swiss VAT Authorities to release a modified periodic VAT return form reports meridianglobalservices.com. The new form includes separate boxes for transactions under the current rates and the upcoming increased rates. The updated document will be used for reporting periods starting from 1 July 2023. The approved VAT rate changes include an increase in the standard VAT rate from 7.7% to 8.1%, a reduced VAT rate increase from 2.5% to 2.6%, and a special accommodation rate increase from 3.7% to 3.8%.

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