Two EU Importers face legal proceedings which could potentially result in fines of up to €66 million and up to 5 years in prison, following a recent indictment at the Court of Antwerp. The two companies imported e-bikes from China via Belgium which were broken down into two separate parts, in order to evade anti-dumping duty which would be payable on the fully assembled bikes.

Adam Wood, Head of Commercial at Barbourne Brook commented:

“It is acceptable in customs law to break down or build up items to change their classification and duty rate, however, in this case it was anti-dumping duty that was being evaded. Anti-dumping duty prevents importers from flooding the market with goods that can be sold for considerably less than they are currently available in the country of retail. This duty cannot be by-passed by breaking down the product – hence the case against the importer.”

The activities of the importers resulted in at least €6.6 million in evaded customs duties. If found guilty, they face between four months and five years in prison, along with a fine of five to ten times the evaded customs duties.

Wood continued: “Although we have left the EU and its customs regime, the UK provisions remain, at present, closely aligned as the general customs concepts are set under international law. Our anti-dumping legislation has similar anti-avoidance clauses that would capture the activity in this case.

“This case will no doubt have alerted the UK authorities to the potential damage to the country’s financial interest, with a knock-on effect of increased scrutiny to identify similar activity in the UK.

An image of someone on an e-bike.

“UK businesses should focus on the classification of their goods, with particular care with sets, parts, unassembled and assembled items. Care should be extended to monitoring how any customs declarations are made.”

Contact Us

For further information, or to discuss any aspect of your customs duty call Adam Wood for a confidential, no-obligation conversation on 01905 914031.

About Barbourne Brook

Barbourne Brook are a proactive team of customs duty planning experts with a wealth of knowledge and insight in the customs sphere, offering scalable solutions backed by industry-leading technology.

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The Hop Merchant
21 Sansome Street

+44 (0)1905 914 031


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