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February 05, 2002

Based upon complaints filed with U.S. Customs by the Fresh Garlic Producers Association ("FGPA"), the Customs Service will be examining whether fresh garlic grown in China is being transshipped through Thailand, Vietnam or other countries.  At present, fresh garlic from China is subject to a 376% antidumping duty ("AD") rate.  The motive to transship is to avoid paying the exorbitant antidumping duties.

We understand that Customs officials have been reviewing imports of garlic at the port of Long Beach, the primary port for fresh garlic imports.  The U.S. garlic industry alleges that imports of fresh garlic from Thailand have dramatically increased in 2001, and that millions of pounds of Chinese garlic are coming into the United States illegally.


Under the Customs laws, importers are legally responsible for the correctness of information shown on their commercial invoices, including the country of origin and the deposit of any estimated antidumping duties due.  Moreover, under the law, importers have a statutory obligation to use "reasonable care" to correctly enter their merchandise. 


Because of the potentially high dumping duties to be assessed and the risk of transshipment, importers should implement procedures to verify the origin of the fresh garlic that they are importing.


Importers who import transshipped garlic (whose country of origin is falsely given as being from another country) may be subject to either civil penalties or criminal prosecution, and Customs may initiate a criminal investigation should there be any evidence of transshipment. 


If Customs determines that the importer knowingly imported transshipped garlic, Customs can issue criminal sanctions under 18 U.S.C. 1001, for knowingly making a false or fraudulent statement, which can include imprisonment and fines. 


On the civil side, Customs can issue penalties under 19 U.S.C. 1592, which could range from one to eight times the loss of antidumping duties.  Since there is a very high antidumping duty rate (376%), the civil penalties could be very high.


We recommend that importers of fresh garlic make an effort to verify the country of origin of their imported fresh garlic.


We would be pleased to review this matter in more detail, should your company desire additional information regarding this Customs investigation.

If you have any questions on the issues raised in this newsletter, please contact Stephen Spraitzar at (415)-288-0427, or at


Copyright 2002 by Tuttle Law Offices.

All rights reserved. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our offices or by others, we do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and are not responsible for any errors, omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of such information.



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