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Panama imposes fines on onion imports

Staff Writer |
The companies importing onions from Peru, the Netherlands, and the United States at low prices to avoid paying taxes will be sanctioned with fines of up to half a million dollars, said Panama's National Customs Authority (ANA).

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The director of the ANA, Jose Gomez, said that the customs agency had detected which companies were incurring in this anomaly after having conducted an investigation that included more than fifteen audits.

The agency discovered that several companies were avoiding tax obligations by under-invoicing this product, which has become more expensive and scarce in the country.

The investigations are at their arraignment stage, so some of these companies will be sanctioned with up to half a million dollars, while others will be fined between 10,000 and 20,000 dollars, Gomez said.

He added that these companies would be sanctioned "taking into account what the state did not receive because of the customs fraud, plus a fine for tax evasion."

He also said that the audits revealed that the under-invoiced onion came from Peru, the Netherlands, and the United States.

Gomez said that they could perform stronger control to the onions coming from the US and the Netherlands through the trade agreements Panama had with said countries. Meanwhile, he said, Panama expects to re-establish communication with Peru to enhance cooperation between both countries, which have a bilateral free trade treaty.

Gomez addressed the issue after a meeting with the Panamanian Minister of Agricultural Development, Eduardo Carles, and representatives of the Association of producers of the Highlands.

The current onion import issue was discussed at this meeting, the National Customs Authority stated.

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