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EU in Chinese garlic-crushing operation

Clampdown on duty-dodging 'fresh onions'

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The EU's European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is applauding the success of an anti-smuggling operation which saw 144 tonnes of fresh Chinese garlic seized in Poland.

The cunning oriental plan to flood Poland with Allium sativum involved labelling the produce as "fresh onions", which attract a 9.6 per cent ad valorem import duty but not the additional €1,200 per tonne payable on garlic.

OLAF explains: "As the production capacity for garlic in China is very high and production costs are low, evading the levy by importing fresh garlic illegally is an attractive business for smugglers."

The anti-fraud office was accordingly keen to sniff out illicit shipments, and on 15 December last year a joint operation with Polish police and customs authorities seized two containers each packed with 24 tonnes of garlic.

On 5 January, four more containers were impounded, likewise loaded with 24 tonnes apiece. Polish police reckon they've "seriously disrupted" the Chinese garlic Polish pipeline.

Had the shipments made it into the EU, the cost in evaded duty would have been €180,000. OLAF estimates the EU has already lost a whopping €1m to the Chinese garlic-dressed-as-onions trade. ®

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