Steel products worth P24 million seized

Posted on March 20, 2014

THE CUSTOMS bureau has seized a shipment of steel products worth over P20 million allegedly smuggled into the country.

In a statement, the agency said it confiscated yesterday 26 twenty-foot container vans of specialized alloy-coated steel coils valued at some P24 million.

The shipment arrived in the country last Nov. 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, second floor, Champ Building, Anda Circle, Barangay 650, Zone 068, Port Area 1, Manila.

The seizure was brought about by an alert order issued by the bureau’s enforcement group after it received information about the shipment.

The bureau said Copperfield Marketing, in its import documents, declared that the container vans, with an actual weight of 587,800 kilograms contained "Hot Rolled Steel Sheet in Coils," with Tariff Heading 72.08.3900 ("Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width of 600 millimeters (mm) or more, hot-rolled, NOT CLAD, PLATED OR COATED of a thickness of less than 3 mm"). This type of steel product carries a zero percent (0%) 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% tariff rate and commands a greater valuation of $434,972, based on its actual weight, as against the declared value of $326,293," it said.

"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," said Customs Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno.

"We are going to hold the importer, Copperfield Marketing, liable for these violations," Mr. Nepomuceno added.

Copperfield Marketing was one of the 70 importers suspended by the Bureau of Customs last March 5 for repeatedly violating Customs policies and procedures in filing import documents. With the misdeclared steel shipment, 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, the Customs bureau said.

"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," Mr. Nepomuceno added, noting that all imported steel products must meet safety and product quality standards.

The 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. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc