Customs confiscates P24-M worth of smuggled steel products from China

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has seized 26 container vans of substandard and smuggled steel products worth P24 million.

The vans filled with specialized alloy-coated steel coils arrived last November 12, 2013 at the Port of Manila in South Harbor from China and was consigned to Copperfield Marketing, a trading firm with address at Room 228-B, 2/F Champ Building, Anda Circle, Barangay 650, Zone 068, Port Area 1, Manila, the BOC said.

The smuggling attempt was foiled on the basis of an Alert Order issued by the BOC's Enforcement Group after receiving derogatory information about the shipment. The Alert Order was hoisted over the shipment to place it under special attention and to allow Customs personnel to validate the veracity of the derogatory information.

In its import documents, Copperfield Marketing declared that the 26 20-foot container vans with an actual weight of 587,800 kilograms contained "Hot Rolled Steel Sheet in Coils," which carries a zero percent rate of duty. But upon inspection, the shipment actually contained "Prime Hot-Dipped 55% Al-Zinc Alloy Coated Steel in Coils," which carries a 10 percent tariff rate and commands a greater valuation of $ 434,972.00, based on its actual weight, as against the declared value of $326,293.00.

"This is a clear case of misdeclaring and misclassifying imported products to avoid paying higher duties and taxes. The mere act of misdeclaring a shipment is fraud. We are going to hold the importer, Copperfield Marketing, liable for these violations," said Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno of the BOC's Enforcement Group.

Copperfield Marketing was one of the 70 importers suspended by the BOC last March 5 for repeatedly violating Customs policies and procedures in filing import documents.

With the misdeclared steel shipment, BOC said that the firm's officers and Customs brokers could also be held liable for violating Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines because of providing wrong commodity description of their shipment accompanied by intentional misclassification of the same for a zero rate duty in order to evade the collection of the rightful duty due.

"Copperfield Marketing will be subjected to further investigation. We have to check if the steel they imported was tested and certified by the Bureau of Product Standards," Nepomuceno added, noting that all imported steel products must meet safety and product quality standards.

Government made product certification for steel products mandatory following the unabated entry of cheap, sub-standard steel products in the market, which have not only harmed local steel manufacturers but have been the cause of damage to various structures, posing risks to public safety. (SDR/Sunnex)

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