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Swedish Customs targets EU garlic smugglers

TT/The Local · 30 Jun 2010, 08:33

Published: 30 Jun 2010 08:33 GMT+02:00

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A shipment of 22 pallets of the offending onion was recently seized in Svinesund in western Sweden, according to a report in the local Strömstads Tidning daily.

High EU import tariffs have rendered the humble vegetable, a must have for a range of culinary dishes, a valuable commodity.

To circumnavigate the punitive tolls, the shipments of garlic are instead fenced through Norway, a country which allows duty-free imports, before finding their way onto the streets of Sweden and other EU countries.

The EU Commission's anti-fraud office estimates that garlic worth a total of 150 million kronor ($19.2 million) has been smuggled into the EU via Norway.

Story continues below…

"The charges for a single shipment, around 22 pallets, amounts to 320,000 kronor," said Gunnar Oleniusson at the Swedish customs in Svinesund.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:16 June 30, 2010 by Great Scott
The greed of customs only causes the greed of the villans. Garlic is food and should be zero tax rated.
11:53 June 30, 2010 by Åskar
Garlic is the foundation of all civilised cooking!
12:04 June 30, 2010 by zooeden
they shouls seize all imports of illegal mangoes!!!!! where is the voice of reason everybody!?
12:04 June 30, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
To hell with this illegal drug running! Where can I find a contact for garlic running.

@GREAT SCOTT - the knee jerk reaction some people have to taxes shows an incredible amount of IGNORANCE.

It would have been nice if The Local had talked a little about how the Chinese are able to create an extremely cheap product and therefore have no problem doing Garlic DUMPING on the world market. The fact that to PROTECT the EU farmers, that China is allowed about 40,000 tons per year and that the tariff paid by Chinese garlic exporters skyrockets to over 200% of the value of the shipment for anything over the 40,000 tons per year the Chinese are allowed into the EU.

I am pretty sure my numbers are in the ballpark but it would have been nicer to have the real numbers produced by The Local.

It is so easy to speak out of ignorance, unfortunately it only makes one look ignorant.
12:21 June 30, 2010 by Keith #5083

I totally agree with you.

"the greed of customs..." fails to recognise that a democratically elected government, acting for the population, institutes rules and laws that customs officers are required to follow. It's their job.

But hey, it's so easy to condemn those who serve our societies whilst we get on with our pleasures!!!!
14:18 June 30, 2010 by Great Scott

Where in the article does it mention Chinese, it is naive to just assume that the shipment came from china.

If this shipment did come from china so what, its food. You sound like you have problem with the Chinese, they have the right to sell whatever they want just like all over counties. It is the fault of the Swedish government in this case not the Chinese. In Europe we import food from all over the world, my point is food should never be taxed.

I was clearly making a true fact, make a problem and expect a problem, failing to realise that is ignorant.
14:42 June 30, 2010 by Nemesis
Sounds like I need to start a mushroom farm.
15:45 June 30, 2010 by Mack
@Great Scott

Do you really think it makes sense that we ship Garlic all the way from China? In North America it is nearly impossible to find non-Chinese Garlic. I am willing to pay more for a locally grown product... given all the scandals involving Chinese products and the lax food inspection in this country (Canada) but the only place you can buy local is at the Farmer's market.

I agree with your point that food should not be taxed but Chinese trade in garlic amounts to dumping.
16:01 June 30, 2010 by Mr Gee
"EU garlic smugglers"

Can this be more stupid? I think not.

This story shows shows one thing very clearly: The system (customs/law/regulation/bureaucracy) is beyond a joke.
16:39 June 30, 2010 by McChatter
Where is the French Connection?

When you read guff like this then you know summer has really arrived.

Tomorrow's not the 1st of April by chance?
16:41 June 30, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
@Nemesis - "Sounds like I need to start a mushroom farm."

Mushrooms are very tricky to grow but once you get the hang of it, WOW! You can make a small fortune off growing the right ones! Once you perfect the art, then you have to find the customers. It is insane what some shrooms sell for. They just found a Japanese delicacy that grows wild here in Sweden. (Where is that damn truffle hunting pig when you need it?)

Personally I want to be a hemp (save the world crop) farmer with a side crop of ginseng (nearly worth its weight in Gold ).

@Great Scott - "Where in the article does it mention Chinese, it is naive to just assume that the shipment came from china. "

This is my point. The Local should be providing much more information.

I believe it is naive to assume it did not come from there. That said - you are correct, I might be wrong and I might have jumped the gun blaming China - but I doubt it.

In the case of GARLIC, my limited sources of information have CHINA pegged as the only country who is producing garlic in such large quantities and so cheaply that they are the only ones who are flooding (DUMPING) the world markets. They are allowed about 40,000 tons but then the EU imposes extreme tariffs on anything more than that.

It is not just the EU, the USA also does this to Chinese garlic imports.

@Great Scott - "... from china so what, its food. You sound like you have problem with the Chinese, they have the right to sell ... It is the fault of the Swedish government ... In Europe we import food from all over the world, my point is food should never be taxed."

I made a statement of fact regarding Chinese garlic dumping on the worlds market and I am accused of having problems with China. My profile would show the fallacy of such thinking.

You though do seem to have a problem with the Swedish government. I am missing how it it "Swedish government's" problem when in fact it is the EUROPEAN UNION that has imposed these tariffs. The only "problem" Sweden has is that it shares an open boarder with Norway which does not impose the same kind of tariffs on garlic as does the EU. These products are then ILLEGALLY shipped through Sweden to the rest of the EU.

I am not a protectionist but I firmly believe that our citizens should be protected against product dumping and against against tainted products.

Growing up in the West, I find it is basic economics! Yes! Tariffs are a way to protect our own products! YES! Certain foods MUST be taxed! AND the methods used to grow those foods MUST be identified.
17:26 June 30, 2010 by Kooritze
Maybe more of an effort on stopping all the pills and the likes that come in would be more productive.
17:52 June 30, 2010 by Internuncio

"the greed of customs..." fails to recognise that a democratically elected government, acting for the population, institutes rules and laws that customs officers are required to follow. It's their job.'


The customs officers do not work for the government. They work for the state. The state was created by the psychopath "Earl" Birger who, in spite of declaring a truce during peace negotiations, had the rightful chieftains assassinated.

One never gets to vote for the continuation or dissolution of the state, only which parties will run it. That is a choice?
23:20 June 30, 2010 by Nemesis
@ DamnImmigrant

I grew up in Northern Ireland.

We grow mushrooms commerically.

I intend to grow them here in the future.
03:50 July 1, 2010 by Rebel
Oh my Gawd, how shall I sleep this evening knowing that such evil exists in the world. Garlic smugglers! Help! What is the world coming to?
06:01 July 1, 2010 by mkvgtired
@Mack, I have never had a problem finding USA garlic (obviously it is more expensive). Do you know if Canada charges the same import tariff to the US as China? I would think NAFTA would make sure the US could export garlic tariff free to Canada.
07:55 July 1, 2010 by Makaveli
Simply ridiculous!
08:06 July 1, 2010 by joshr
I wonder how they sniffed out the offenders?
10:45 July 1, 2010 by J Jack
There are a lot of witches in Sweden. We need a lot of garlic. Some of gets to markets but the bulk of smuggled product is already pre sold to nature remedy manufacturers and restaurants. Honestly, what would you do with 22 pallets of garlic if you didn't already have a buyer.
13:44 July 2, 2010 by tadchem
April 1st was three months ago! Seriously, if the bureaucratic vampires want high import tariffs on garlic, then grow your own. It's fresher, domestic, and tax-free. Garlic is easy to grow - it is a weed in some places like the US Mid-Atlantic states. The only realistic objection would be to the possible spread of plant pathogens, which can be prevented by starting from seeds and using indoor cultivation.
15:58 July 2, 2010 by americanska
DamnImmigrant - if farmers in the EU are not as productive as the chinese when it comes to garlic then too bad. tariffs are a terrible policy. the farmers can produce something else - let the market decide it. why does the EU always push to protect backwards inefficient farming practices?

the EU would do more to help it's farmers by allowing them to buy American GMO crops to plant so they could get a decent yeild. Plus that would actually reduces the need pesticides and the most potent herbicides.

But most Europeans have a knee jerk reaction to "GMO Crops" which just underlines their ignorance.
17:53 July 2, 2010 by CaConi

Oh yes. Let's get the EU in on our (U.S.) GMO, corn based, sugar enhanced, chemically induced food frenzy. Why should we be the only ones on a mission to kill ourselves???
19:05 July 2, 2010 by americanska
You just displayed the exact knee jerk reaction and ignorance I described. Thank you.
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