A draft amendment to the Foreign Trade Act (貿易法) that aims to increase fines for using fraudulent certificates of origin yesterday passed a review at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee.
According to the proposal, exporters and importers who are found to have used fraudulent labels of origin or trade certificates would face an administrative fine of NT$60,000 to NT$3 million (US$1,967 to US$98,357).
Currently, the fines range from NT$30,000 to NT$300,000.
The draft amendment would also increase the fines for transporting strategic high-tech goods to any unrestricted region without authorization, as well as for authorized organizations that illegally issue certificates of origin.
The organizations refer to business organizations, industry, farmers’ and fishermen’s associations, as well as provincial agricultural cooperatives, and agricultural product and marketing associations, according to the act.
The act already includes penalties for transporting strategic high-tech products to restricted regions, including a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to NT$1.5 million.
The draft amendment also includes a “whistle-blower clause” to encourage people to help the government root out offenders, the Legislative Yuan said.
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told reporters after the committee review that the draft amendment would immediately come into effect once it clears the legislative floor.
Wang said the heavier fines would serve as a warning that contraventions of the act would have serious consequences.
Before the review, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told the committee that the government has identified several companies that have tagged Chinese products with fraudulent labels of origin in an attempt to avoid anti-dumping tariffs imposed by other countries on Chinese exports.
The practice has caused the EU to launch an investigation into Taiwan-made solar energy products, screws, aluminum wheel rims and bicycles, he said.
In addition, amid a US-China trade dispute, some businesses have been found to have transported Chinese products to Taiwan before shipping them to the US with a “Made in Taiwan” label of origin, Shen said.
This has led to “an impact on trade order and Taiwan’s business reputation abroad,” he said, adding that this is why the government introduced the amendment.
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