March 27, 2019 07:35

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Difficult to handle containers of banned goods in Hai Phong because of Maersk Line?

06:16 | 07/03/2019

VCN - When the Customs wants to inspect and bring consignments of banned goods to the material evidence storage for investigation and verification, Maersk Line Branch (in Hai Phong) gives many delaying reasons.

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difficult to handle containers of banned goods in hai phong because of maersk line
Maersk Line‘s container of ivory and pangolin scales arrested at Hai Phong port on January 26, 2019 (the above photo). More than 500 kg of ivory was discovered and seized by the customs force in the above container. Photo: T. Binh.
difficult to handle containers of banned goods in hai phong because of maersk line
Ivory, lion’s teeth, pangolin scales, etc., in consignments transported by Maersk Line

Recently, in the Hai Phong port area, illegal trafficking and transport of wild fauna and flora across the border has been complicated. Offenders often change methods and tricks to bypass the competent authorities for smuggling and transporting goods, which are rare and precious wildlife fauna and flora across the border. Especially, ivory and pangolin scales have been captured by the authorities in large volumes. These goods are usually shipped from African countries and transited through Asian ports before arriving to Vietnam. In the last months of 2018 and early 2019, Hai Phong Customs Department has continuously discovered and arrested large volumes of ivory and pangolin scales from Africa to Hai Phong port.

Notably, the above consignments detected by the Customs agency are often transported by Maersk Line.

Most recently in January 2019, two consecutive transport cases of African-origin ivory and pangolin scales, have been discovered and captured by Hai Phong Customs, transported in consignments by Maersk Line. In which the first case included more than 500 kgs of ivory, and more than 1 ton of pangolin scales, hidden in 3 containers of wood. The other case had 100 kg of ivory and more than 1 ton of pangolin scales hidden in a container of wood.

Earlier, in October 2018, two cases relating to banned goods were seized at Hai Phong port, also transported by Maersk Line. In particular, in the first case, the customs force seized 529 kgs of pangolin scales, 129 lion fangs, 93 leopard claws and 3 leopard skins hidden in 3 containers of wood. In the second case, the Customs force seized a large volume of elephant tails hidden in 3 containers of wood

Ask for payment of half a billion VND per container

According to Hai Phong Customs Control Team, although the Customs force detected and prevented acts of trade in endangered of wildlife fauna and flora as mentioned above, but when the Customs agency conducted inspections and brought goods to the material evidence storage for investigation and verification purposes, Maersk Line always gave unreasonable reasons to delay the implementation to administrative decisions by the Customs agency.

In particular, Maersk Line also asked the customs agency to pay for a series of charges, such as for: documentation fee, terminal handling charge at destination port, import service fee, sea freight, emergency fuel charge, demurage, container deposits, etc., only to handover the infringing consignments to the Customs agency. Meanwhile, the Customs agency is the state management agency and is responsible for preventing and combating smuggling and illegal transport of goods across the border.

There have been many consignments for which carriers have required payment of 400-500 million VND / container.

Typically, in December 2018, Hai Phong Customs Control Team conducted an administrative check for consignments transported by Maersk Line including: 2 containers No. MSKU2760728 and MRKU9911212 under bill No. 965301893 at Tan Vu port, and imported goods in container No. MSKU7665301 under bill of lading No. 578322930 at VIP Green Port of Hai Phong under a witness of the representative of Maersk Line Vietnam Co., Ltd., in Hai Phong, Hai Phong Port Joint Stock Company - Tan Vu Port Branch and VIP Green Port Joint Stock Company.

As a result, goods in 3 containers were African iron-wood and doussie, African elephant tails (scientific name Loxodonta africana), in Appendix I of Circular 04/2017 / TT-BNNPTNT of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, promulgating the list of wild fauna and flora specified in the annexes to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Appendix I prescribes a list of endangered species of wild fauna and flora, prohibits imports, exports, re-exports and re-imports by sea and transit of natural specimens for commercial purpose.

In order to prevent violations and have a basis for handling cases according to regulations, on January 3, 2019, Hai Phong Customs Control Team issued decisions on temporary seizure of the above consignments according to administrative procedures and sent the above decisions to the representative of Maersk Vietnam Limited Company in Hai Phong for implementation. However, Maersk Line refused to implement the customs decisions.

On the other hand, this shipping company sent an official dispatch to the customs agency with the content that the company will only hand over the above containers if the customs agency pays all the expenses arising related to those consignments with the amount of hundreds of millions of VND.

According to the Customs Control Team, on February 25, 2019, more than a month after the Customs Department's decision was issued, Maersk Line has not handed over the consignments of banned goods for the Customs to deal with as prescribed.

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Regarding the above information, on February 18, 2019, a reporter made a call with a representative of Maersk Line in Hai Phong. Through the call, he provided information about some containers shipped by his company in the Hai Phong port area containing ivory and other banned goods as mentioned above, but he did not give specific answers about the information on his company’s request to the Customs for paying fees related to the containers of infringing goods before handing over them to the Customs agency with a reason that this was his leader’s instruction.

By Thai Binh/ Huyen Trang