Norwegian salmon. (Photo: Stock File)
SalMar related executive detained for salmon smuggling into China
Friday, April 13, 2018, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
A Norwegian citizen who participated in setting up a joint venture with salmon producer SalMar was detained in China in connection with a crackdown on salmon smuggling.
State media trumpeted that the detained was Dong Yimin, who was accused of having illegally imported salmon worth up to CNY 620 million (USD 98.4 million) from Norway, The Financial Times reported.
For his part, Atle Eide, SalMar CEO, recognised his company had longstanding ties with Dong, but he said he had “not been able to talk” to her since news of the smuggling crackdown broke.
“She has been a close partner to SalMar . . . and well known to all in the business, as for numerous other salmon producers for more that a decade,” Eide said in an email.
“We believe she is innocent until otherwise proven. She has been instrumental to develop the position for Norwegian salmon in general in China and other south-east Asian markets for years and years,” he added.
Eide explained SalMar was setting up a joint venture with Dong in which the Norwegian company had a majority stake. The venture, SalMar Pacific, was registered in Singapore but had not yet begun operations.
“It goes without saying that SalMar has not been involved in any illegal export of salmon to China or to any other country,” Eide said.
According to a Chinese report, the detention was part of the smashing of a large salmon smuggling ring as Chinese customs detained 17 people after co-ordinated raids in late March in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian.
It is well-known that salmon are smuggled into China, mainly across the land border with Vietnam, to evade import duties on fresh salmon of 22 per cent, about half of which is an import tariff (half a value added tax charged at the border).
Vietnam is a key trans-shipment point for seafood destined for China.
According to the Chinese report, the Norwegian salmon was brought from Norway by air in frozen consignments to Vietnam, then shipped overland to points on the China-Vietnam border and smuggled across by Chinese gangs for sale in big cities.
Smugglers also import salmon through formal channels but under-report the value of consignments to reduce the duty payable, the official report said.
Authorities said the smugglers made a profit of up to CNY 200,000 (USD 31,800) on a consignment worth CNY 800,000 (USD 127,000).
In addition to the import duties, Chinese customs have been enforcing strict customs and health checks on Norwegian salmon since the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a prominent Chinese dissident, in 2010.
Beijing was incensed by the award, which was given by the Nobel committee in Oslo, and froze diplomatic and trade relations with Norway until December 2016.
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member West Products AS