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Four firms accused of mislabeling exports to bypass high U.S. tariffs

An agency from the General Department of Vietnam Customs has accused four firms of relabeling foreign-made products as Vietnamese, including bicycles and wooden shelves, to avoid high U.S. tariffs.


Customs officials are seen at a news briefing on trade fraud on December 27. Four companies are found to have mislabeled the origins of their products to bypass high U.S. tariffs – PHOTO: VNA



The department held a press briefing on the ongoing crackdown on fraudulent origins of exports based upon post clearance audits, reported the news website VnEconomy.

Nguyen Tien Loc, head of the Post Clearance Audit Department, said a number of firms have illegally labeled their goods, claiming Vietnamese origins, to take advantage of tariff incentives on those exports into countries which Vietnam has signed free trade agreements.

Since the trade war between the United States and China began in mid-2018, the United States has slapped punitive tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods.

Therefore, customs officials have tried to determine appropriate measures and risks involving origin fraud when companies mislabel the origin of their products and later ship them from Vietnam to the United States and the European Union.

Loc said his department has set up a special task force to combat such violations. As a result, customs authorities have found a number of firms that had a sharp increase in the value of their goods to the United States and the European Union.

“We collected preliminary statistics on 19 groups of products with risks of origin fraud. We later made a list of businesses which have risks of fraud and fake origins nationwide, so we could carry out inspections,” he said.

So far, the department has inspected nine firms and asked nine provincial and municipal customs bureaus to check 24 other firms.

Among the nine firms, the department discovered three assemblers of bicycles and electric bikes, and one manufacturer of wooden shelves had committed origin fraud, according to the department’s deputy head, Tran Manh Cuong.

He added that the four firms had admitted their violations on Vietnamese origins of their exports. His department is calling upon the customs general department to sanction these firms.

The department is clarifying some signs of violations among the remaining six firms, and is planning to expand its probe into solar energy batteries and LED lights.

Also, the department has asked its local post clearance audit peers to pay special attention to the provinces and cities where new firms were set up in late 2018, specializing in the import of Chinese spare parts and accessories, and the export of their finished products to the United States and the European Union.

In June this year, the chief customs regulator said it had ordered provincial and municipal customs departments to step up their inspections and verifications of certificates of origin to root out fraudulent certificates, since some companies were importing goods from China, then removing or replacing the packaging on goods to describe them as “Made in Vietnam.”

Local customs officials said that the transshipment of goods using forged certificates of origin was happening most often in the areas of textiles, seafood, agricultural products, ceramic tiles, honey, as well as with iron, steel, aluminum and pressed wood products. SGT




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