Force bolstered to fight transshipment crime
The Government is cracking down on transshipment crime by expanding a task force set up last year to tackle traders who sell garments manufactured on the mainland but labelled 'Made in Hong Kong'.
The Trade Controls Branch of the Customs and Excise Department has increased the number of officers engaged in textile-related enforcement by 20 per cent, from 300 to 360.
The Textile Task Force, set up in April last year, has also been expanded from 20 to 60 officers to intensify operations at cargo checkpoints.
In the first five months of this year, the task force investigated 6,700 cases, compared with 1,800 cases in the same period last year.
More than 900 traders or companies were prosecuted in 1998 and 750 in 1999. Most were found importing goods with false trade descriptions. A new inspection technique, called 'real-time checking', has also been introduced. Under this system, officers visit factories to inspect the goods at different stages of production. The manufacturing of the goods is monitored through time and motion studies.
The measures are aimed at ensuring Hong Kong meets its obligations under the World Trade Organisation agreement on textiles and clothing.
A growing number of cases involving the late lodgement and non-lodgement of trade declarations has prompted a revision of the import and export declaration system.
The maximum fine for lodgement infringements is HK$1,000 and the department is considering raising the fine.
Those convicted of involvement in illegal textile transshipment are subject to a maximum HK$500,000 fine and two years in jail.