Ministry alleges cheating on trade treaty

The finance ministry said Friday that a major importer of flat screen televisions is cheating by pretending the electronic devices come from México when they do not.

México has a trade treaty with Costa Rica that would allow a firm to import electronic devices made there without paying customs duties.

The Servicio Nacional de Aduanas of the Ministerio de Hacienda said the unpaid import duties and fines amount to 273 million colons or about $517,000. The agency said the unnamed importer was contesting this assessment.

The complaint by the customs agency covers September 2012 to May 2013, the agency said.

The ministry said that as a result of the misuse of the trade treaty, the firm was able to undercut competitors in the marketplace. Imports from elsewhere carry a 15 percent customer duty, the agency said.

The situation is likely to lead to one of those long court battles typical of import disputes.

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