A dereliction of duty over $600M in unpaid duties?

Jun 01, 2008 | 09:04 AM |

WASHINGTON Where have all the duties gone? And what to do about it?

Some foreign companies have been skipping out on their dumping duty bills, and the federal government thinks it's high time they paid up.

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found "substantial shortfalls" in duty collections, and it could lead to changes in how the U.S. collects duties.

In all, $600 million in anti-dumping and countervailing duties dating back to 2001 remain uncollected, the GAO said. But the problem isn't widespread. Instead, it is concentrated among a few products (four products account for about 84 percent of the total amount of uncollected duties) and importers (a relatively small number of importers owe the vast majority of the uncollected duties). Half of the 23,000 unpaid duty bills are less than $309, but the average duty bill is more than $26,000 due to a relatively small number of very large bills.

The problem isn't really a metals-related one. The agriculture and aquaculture industries account for 87 percent of the total, while the steel industry accounts for just 7 percent.....

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