EPB wakes up to EU GSP doc forgery
Monday, 25 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

Export Promotion Bureau has at last initiated actions against errant exporters amid complaints that stringent rules of origin criteria were being flouted to get duty-free market access to European Union under generalised system of preferences.

The bureau recently suspended GSP licences of a foreign company that had forged documents for importing raw materials for products to be exported to EU markets, sources at the EPB said.

Suspension was imposed on M/S HKD (High-tech) Limited and M/S HKD International (BD) Limited, sister concerns of HKD International— a manufacturer and marketer of tents and camping products. 'HKD licenses have been suspended after EPB investigation detected clear violation of rules and faking of documents,' said an EPB director.

According to rules, raw materials for making tents destined for EU must be sourced from Europe if exporters are to get GSP facility. HKD units imported raw materials from Hong Kong and faked documents showing that imports were made from EU.

The fraudulence came to light only after a delegation of European customs authorities visited Bangladesh in March 2007 and declared some GSP certificates [Form-A] invalid in presence of EPB officials. That prompted EPB to start an investigation to find out how its Chittagong office was fooled into issuing 16 GSP certificates in favour of HKD's two companies.

The export promotion agency blacklisted the two companies for document forgery and barred them from gaining any preferential access to EU market. The group was slapped a fine of Tk 50,000 and warned that it might loose export licence and face legal actions if found guilty of similar offences in future.

HKD director Gulam Mohiuddin said that they had received EPB order on cancellation of licences. He admitted faking of GSP documents, but claimed that some officials, who left the company for another tent exporter, did the crime with ill motives.

'We have admitted the misdeeds and pledged not to repeat such things in future,' said Mohiuddin, adding that the company was preparing to appeal to the authorities concerned for relaxing the suspension so that they could continue their exports. HKD has around $60 million dollar worth exports from Bangladesh and exemption of more than 10 per cent duty on export value means a gain of few million dollars.

Informed sources said the government should take the matter of GSP forgery seriously to prevent any possible setback in EU market at a time when apparel export growth to USA slowed in 2007.

They also alerted the Bangladesh's authorities to recent detections of GSP certificate forgery, which led to seizure of dozens of Bangladeshi garment consignments by German customs authority. Such forgeries irk EU garment importers as they are to deposit the duty beforehand to get the consignments cleared from ports.

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