By Liu Xinyu and Gao Xiaorui King & Wood’s International Trade Group
Improper commodity classification in customs declaration may cause different legal liabilities. This article will begin the analysis with two cases.
Case 1: A large-scale foreign-investment enterprise ("Enterprise A") imported 72.6 tons of ethylene powder from Germany, and made a customs declaration in the name of ethylene powder with a commodity code ("HS code") of 29,012,100. Later, the customs office extracted samples from the declared goods for inspection. The laboratory identification report issued by the customs laboratory center revealed that the materials were actually a type of polymer with the main ingredient being vinyl acetate, and the proper corresponding HS code was 39052900. Through further investigation, the customs office found that Enterprise A had imported the same materials as "ethylene powder" three times. The customs office finally determined that Enterprise A’s acts constituted false declarations, and imposed administrative penalties on Enterprise A in accordance with relevant laws.
Case 2: According to a news report, the merchandiser of a well-known foreign-funded enterprise ("Enterprise B"), when scrutinizing Enterprise B’s former declaration materials for imported raw materials, found that the beginning of the HS code on the commercial invoice was 3302 rather than 1302, the correct beginning of HS code for the imported raw materials. Imported materials with HS codes 1302 and 3302 were levied different customs duties of 20% and 15%, respectively. HS code 1302 was the correct coding for imported materials by Enterprise B and the merchandiser was aware of the fact. However, Enterprise B continued to use the original commodity code when filing customs declaration for the imported materials, and carried out this misconduct for the next 30 months. Finally, the customs anti-smuggling department discovered Enterprise B’s acts and determined Enterprise B had evaded customs duties amounted to over RMB 1 million. Finally, a lawsuit was instituted by the competent procuratorate before the courts.
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