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  • Sacks of different varieties of corn grain are displayed at a market.

    Sacks of different varieties of corn grain are displayed at a market. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 August 2017

Authorities who organized a recent inspection at the Santa Maria port found multiple containers with millions of dollars worth of corn.

Investigations into discrepancies in a Colombian corn distributors’ tax report have revealed a total of US$426.2 million worth of products unaccounted for, showing a deliberate violation of the country’s Free Trade Agreement, TLC, with the United States.

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“In the TLC it was agreed to import the so-called 'grade 2,' but other degrees of inferior quality (such as 'grade 3') have been brought in and even offered openly,” said Henry Vanegas, president of Colombia’s National Federation of Cereal and Legume Growers, Fenalce. 

“The former is of the highest quality, so it should enter into a different tariff position than the one negotiated for the corn quota approved in the negotiation.”

Authorities organized an inspection at the Santa Maria port and found multiple containers with corn valued at US$426.2 million.

According to the Free Trade Agreement, distributors are able to import up to 2.68 million tons without paying a tariff. These rules, however, change in the case of higher-quality merchandise.

Fenavi, an American poultry guild, has denied any connection to the fraud allegations, stating that they have diligently observed U.S. tax laws and were not aware of any discrepancies on the part of their partners.

The organizations told El Tiempo that due to the fact the country has opted out of using online forms, violations of quality laws are commonplace.

Following the incident, members of the cereal guild called for stricter controls at customs to regulate corn imports as well as increase the border’s vigilance in regards to the tariff and quota observance.

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