Vietnam vows to crack down on commerce tariff dodge

Vietnam has vowed to crack down on corporations which have been relabelling Chinese language items as Vietnamese to keep away from US tariffs, in a transfer that underscores the south-east Asian nation’s rising function as a regional export hub within the intensifying US-Chinese language commerce struggle.

Vietnam’s customs division stated that it had ordered provincial and municipal customs departments to step up their inspection and verification of certificates of origin to root out fraudulent ones. In a press release posted to its web site on Sunday, the physique stated that corporations had been importing items from China, then eradicating or changing the packaging on items to explain them as “Made in Vietnam”. 

State-controlled media quoted Hoang Thi Thuy, head of the company’s customs management and supervision division, as saying that authorities had recognized “dozens of circumstances” the place this occurred. 

In a single, courting again to 2017, earlier than US President Donald Trump started his commerce offensive in opposition to Beijing, the customs division within the northern port of Haiphong discovered an organization that had imported audio system and cellphone chargers from China that had “Made in Vietnam” printed on their packaging. 

Vietnamese customs officers stated that the trans-shipment of products beneath cast certificates of origin was occurring most frequently within the areas of textiles, seafood, agricultural merchandise, ceramic tiles, honey, iron metal, aluminium and pressed wooden. 

Information of the relabelling of Chinese language items will add to rising scrutiny of Vietnam’s function as a winner within the US-China commerce struggle, as extra Chinese language, US and different corporations step up buying or manufacturing in Vietnam to keep away from rising US tariffs on a swath of Chinese language items.

Nomura, in a analysis observe revealed final week, discovered that Vietnam was “by far the biggest beneficiary” of import substitution as consumers across the globe shifted their shopping for from China. 

Imports to the US from Vietnam grew by 40 per cent within the first quarter of this 12 months, about double the speed of imports from South Korea and Taiwan, and one of many quickest development charges for any economic system. 

The US is now Vietnam’s largest export market, and its commerce surplus with the US reached $39.5bn final 12 months.

Vietnam has drawn nearer to the US in recent times due to their shared suspicion of China’s rising regional ambitions. It hosted Mr Trump at February’s nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. 

Final month Vietnam escaped being designated by the US Treasury as a forex manipulator. 

Nevertheless, commerce tensions have simmered for years, together with in a long-running dispute over catfish. Final week, Darin LaHood, a US state consultant from Illinois, referred to as for an investigation of Minh Phu Seafood, Vietnam’s greatest shrimp producer, of evading antidumping duties on Indian frozen shrimp by importing it, minimally processing it, then promoting it by way of its US subsidiary Mseafood as Vietnamese product. 

The Vietnamese firm has denied any wrongdoing, and stated it believed any potential US investigation would exonerate it. 

Observe John Reed on Twitter: @JohnReedwrites

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