Incoterms 2020 – what are the planned changes?

International Incoterms commercial rules set the rules of sale and purchase. The International Chamber of Commerce introduces modifications every decade to adapt the rules to changes in international trade. Knowledge of the Incoterms is crucial when placing an order and signing a contract with a Chinese partner. We describe the predicted changes so that you can prepare for the introduction of Incoterms 2020.

Update. The following are potential changes. The actual changes have already been introduced. We prepared a free guide on Incoterms 2020 (40+ pages) that you can download HERE.

Incoterms are a set of international trade rules published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which is based in Paris. The organization aims to improve and strengthen trade cooperation between countries around the world. Interestingly, the committee of experts working on the draft of Incoterms 2020 rules includes Chinese representatives for the first time.

The Incoterms rules divide the transport and insurance charges between the seller and the buyer as well as the responsibility for the formalities and costs associated with customs clearance. Incoterms determine the transfer of risk in the transport process as well as the moment of delivery. Therefore, knowledge of Incoterms is essential for any entrepreneur who engages in international trade.

Controversial proposals for Incoterms 2020 changes

Currently, Incoterms 2010 are in force. Changes to be included in the Incoterms 2020 series draw a lot of attention. Especially the alleged cancellation of EXW and DDP terms. The justification for the decision to remove them is that they mostly concern intra-national transactions. Inexperienced exporters often use the EXW rule, which places the minimum obligation on the seller. It also gives an importer control over cargo from the very beginning. On the other hand, the DDP rule places the minimum obligation on the buyer. It’s popular, for example, when sending samples or spare parts.

Removal of EXW means that the seller will always be obliged at least to complete export customs clearance and deliver the goods to the first carrier indicated by the buyer (and not only to make the goods available to the buyer as in the case of EXW).

Will the DDP rule disappear?

The Incoterms 2010 DDP rule causes some confusion as it determines that the exporter covers all costs associated with the import customs procedure, regardless of where the goods are delivered. The Incoterms 2020 rules may include two rules based on the disappearing DDP term. In both cases, the buyer will be responsible for the formalities and costs associated with import customs clearance. On the DTP (Delivered at Terminal Paid) basis, the goods will be delivered at a terminal in the importer’s country. Whereas on the DPP (Delivered at Place Paid) basis, they will be delivered at the chosen place of destination.

This way, there will be a collection of four complimentary rules: when the goods are delivered at the named terminal, the seller covers duty and VAT (DTP) or not (DAT), and when the goods are delivered at the point of destination, and the seller covers duty and VAT (DPP) or not (DAP).

Will FOB and CIF change?

FOB and CIF rules are the most common Incoterms 2010 when it comes to global imports from China. FOB and CIF should only refer to non-containerized sea freight. However, these terms are so popular that they are commonly misused. Especially since 80% of international trade takes place in containers. In the newest version of Incoterms, it’s possible to introduce changes that will enable FOB and CIF formulas to apply to container transport as well.

Incoterms 2010 vs. Incoterms 2020

FAS rule is also to disappear. The reason is that it’s similar to more popular FCA and FOB terms and therefore is in relatively rare use. Whereas ICC may divide the FCA rule into two: one related to sea freight and the other one related to land transport.

In addition, the International Chamber of Commerce plans to introduce a new term. CNI (Cost and Insurance) is supposed to fill the gap between FCA and CFR/CIF. According to the new rule, the seller would cover the costs of cargo insurance while the buyer would cover the transit cost.

Besides the removal of some rules and the creation of new ones, the ICC Committee also considers additional issues to include in Incoterms 2020. Among them are topics such as the security of transport, regulations connected to transport insurance, and the relation between Incoterms and the International Sale Contract.