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Vietnam, US probe $4B aluminium origin fraud

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Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province's Customs Department had seized a suspicious aluminum shipment worth US$4 billion that was heading to the US and other countries. Viet Nam News/ANN

Vietnam, US probe $4B aluminium origin fraud

Ba Ria-VUNG Tau province’s Customs Department seized a suspicious aluminium shipment worth $4 million that was heading to the US and other countries, a General Department of Vietnam Customs director-general Nguyen Van Can said.

This was the largest place-of-origin fraud ever uncovered in the country, he said.

Can said the shipment belonged to a corporation which had its own production line but imported aluminium ingots, bars and semi-finished products from abroad to export to the US, among others.

After becoming suspicious, the General Department of Vietnam Customs collaborated with the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other relevant agencies to investigate and block the shipment, he said.

“The Vietnamese customs authority has also worked with US customs officers and the Department of Homeland Security who have sent agents to Vietnam to verify the case,” Can was quoted as saying by the Lao Dong (the Labourer) newspaper.

A report from the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province’s customs, the company’s inventory amounted to 1.8 million tonnes, worth about $4.3 billion.

Sino-US trade tensions have been ongoing for more than a year. Their impacts, together with temporary trade protection measures around the world such as anti-dumping and countervailing duties, affect trade flows. Some products are being disguised with ‘made-in-Vietnam’ labels to try to evade US anti-dumping duties.

Vietnam’s aluminium exports to the US were subject to a tax of about 15 per cent, but products from China were levied at up to 374 per cent, Can said.

According to US customs, even if businesses imported aluminium ingots and bars and finished aluminium products to process, they were still not eligible to be labelled ‘made-in-Vietnam’.

Because of the high tax benefit, many businesses in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province had imported billions of US dollars worth of aluminium products, Can said.

“The customs authority is continuing to fight place-of-origin fraud to stop Vietnam from becoming a trans-shipment point for fraudulent goods,” Can said. The authority had also detected and prevented other cases involving importing semi-finished and finished products to Vietnam and faking their origin, he added.

This month, the Trade Remedies Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced a list of 25 items at risk of trade remedies investigation, an increase of 12 items compared to the list published in August.

The list includes hardwood plywood, artificial stone, iron racks, foam cushions, electric bicycles, truck and passenger car tires, and corrosion-resistant steel (of two Harmonised System codes), stainless steel rims, hot rolled steel sheets, cast iron products, synthetic fibbers, mechanical pipes of steel and cold alloys, aluminium foil, forged steel accessories, common aluminium alloy plates, elastic bands and steel wheels.



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