Thursday, May 07, 2009

Trade-Related Indictments

Here is every honest importer's nightmare: indictments for trade related activities. While we owe these soon-to-be defendants the presumption of innocence, let's be clear about the fact that these were not your work-a-day importers.

Qi Gui Nie of Charlotte, North Carolina is the winner of the most recent indictment under the Lacey Act. He is charged with importing endangered Asian Boneytongue fish (or Asian Arowana) allegedly valued at $25,000 by means of a container stocked with legally imported fish and a false bottom compartment containing the illegal fish. If convicted, Nie faces up to 30 years in prison and $25,000 in fines for each count in the indictment.

The press release includes a quote from James Gale of U.S. Fish & Wildlife. I may be imagining it, but the name sounds familiar. I think he was mentioned in the book The Lizard King, which is about reptile smuggling and worth a read.

Indictment number two is really a series of indictments. The cases relate to what has become known as "honey laundering." The practice involves transhipping honey from China through other countries and failing to disclose its actual origin. Why would someone do that? Because there are antidumping duties applicable to honey from China. At least at one point, the deposit rate was as high as 183%. That kind of added cost will certainly cut right through your profit margin.

This story has some local color for those of us in Chicago. Here is the Tribune's article.

If you are looking for more exotic honey, try some of Pitcairn Island's finest. Brought to you by disease-free bees and the 50 descendants of Fletcher Christian, the other mutineers from the H.M.S. Bounty, and their Tahitian friends. Read about that here.

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