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August 27, 2011

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Kiwifruit importer charged with evading tariffs

A local agent for Zespri kiwifruit, a popular imported fruit from New Zealand sold in Shanghai, evaded 60 million yuan (US$9.4 million)in Customs duties by forging documents, Shanghai Customs officials charged yesterday.

City prosecutors approved the arrest of the general manager of Zespri's local agent company, surnamed Liu. He will be charged with a smuggling crime that caused huge tariff losses to the country.

Zespri is a kiwifruit producer and seller in New Zealand. Its trademark kiwifruit commands higher prices than its China-produced counterpart in Shanghai, but has still gained popularity.

The Customs officials said Liu was responsible for the scam, providing forged documents to evade import taxes. Officials said the invoices reported much lower prices for the imported fruits than what was actually paid to the New Zealand company.

The current Customs tariff rate on kiwifruit is 11.1 percent of its import price, reduced from 17.8 percent in 2008.

The Shanghai company is the only Zespri kiwifruit agent in eastern China.


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