World Economy

EU, Chinese Customs to Combat Undervaluation of Goods

EU, Chinese Customs to Combat Undervaluation of GoodsEU, Chinese Customs to Combat Undervaluation of Goods

EU and national authorities prevented losses of over €80 million in customs duties, during a major joint customs operation (JCO) coordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

This joint customs operation had particular significance as, for the first time ever, it also involved Chinese customs authorities. Operation “SNAKE” specifically targeted the undervaluation of imported goods, which causes huge losses to public budgets every year, New Europe reported.

Over a one month period, OLAF and the participating customs authorities detected more than 1,500 containers where the declared customs value was heavily undervalued. This included false descriptions of goods, false weights and quantities, and counterfeit goods.

In addition, customs authorities succeeded in identifying several so-called missing traders and non-existent importers, triggering a number of criminal and administrative investigations in several countries.

Algirdas Semeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs and Anti-Fraud, said: “Operation SNAKE proves once again the benefits of joining forces at global level to fight a common threat. The undervaluation of imported goods is an endemic problem worldwide, affecting not only EU customs, but also those of other countries, including China. I welcome the Chinese participation in this operation, and hope that it paves the way for many more successful initiatives together to fight against fraud.”

Undervaluation of imported goods causes huge losses to the EU and Member States’ budgets every year. When goods are imported into the EU, they are subject to specific customs duties, based on the real value of the goods. However, some criminals fraudulently declare a lower value on their goods, to the detriment of public budgets, in order to increase their profit margins. Operation SNAKE was carried out to specifically target this type of fraud and generate increased intelligence, stronger cross-border cooperation and a more effective crack-down on undervaluation in the future.

The operational phase of Operation SNAKE took place from February to March 2014. Coordinated by OLAF and the Anti-smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of China Customs, it involved the customs administrations of all EU Member States, as well as those of the People’s Republic of China. The participants cooperated using a secure communication channel developed by OLAF for this type of operation. On September 4 and 5, all participating officials met at OLAF’s headquarte