TAIPEI (CNA) — A draft bill aimed at increasing fines for fraudulent labeling of origin of export by up to 10 times to NT$3 million (US$98,400) passed review by the Legislature’s Economics Committee Monday.
Under the draft amendment to the Foreign Trade Act, should an exporter or importer be found to have tagged goods with fraudulent labels of origin or to have used fraudulent trade certificates, the culprit will be subject to an administrative fine ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$3 million.
The fine is an increase from the current level of between NT$30,000 and NT$300,000, according to the Legislative Yuan.
The hike will also be applied to those transporting strategic high-tech goods to any region other than already restricted ones without authorization, as well as authorized organizations found to have issued certificates of origin illegally.
The existing act already imposes punishments on the transportation of strategic high-tech products to restricted regions. Those penalties include prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to NT$1.5 million.
The above-mentioned organizations refer to industrial associations, business organizations, farmers’ associations, fishermen’s associations, provincial agricultural cooperatives and agricultural product and marketing associations, according to the Foreign Trade Act.
In addition, the draft bill also includes a “whistleblower clause,” created to encourage people to help the government root out offenses of this kind, the Legislative Yuan said.
Vice Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told reporters after the legislative committee review that once it clears the floor of the Legislative Yuan, the draft will come into force with immediate effect.
Speaking of the heavier fine, Wang said it will serve as a warning that any violations of the act will face serious consequences.
Before the review was approved, Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said at the legislative committee hearing that the government has recently pinpointed several businesses that have tagged Chinese products with fraudulent labels of origin in an attempt to avoid anti-dumping tariffs imposed by other countries on exports from China.
The practice has led the European Union to launch an investigation into Taiwan-made solar energy products, screws, aluminum wheel rims and bicycles, he said.
In addition, amid the ongoing trade friction between the U.S. and China, some businesses have been found to have transported Chinese products to Taiwan before shipping them to the U.S. with a “Made in Taiwan” label of origin, according to the minister.
This has created “an impact on trade order and Taiwan’s business reputation abroad,” Shen said, adding that this is why the government has initiated the amendment to the trade law.
By Chen Chun-hua and Elizabeth Hsu