Philip Morris Jumps Tariff Hurdle
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Philip Morris said Tuesday it would begin shipping Marlboro cigarettes to Colombia from neighboring Venezuela, circumventing what it called excessive tariffs on U.S.-made cigarettes.
There was no immediate response from the Colombian government, which has been embroiled in a lengthy dispute with the U.S. company.
Complaining that high tariffs were making its products too expensive in Colombia, Philip Morris in June stopped shipping to the country where it held a 6 percent share of the market.
But in a statement Tuesday, the company's subsidiary in Colombia said it would resume sales to Colombia â€” only now of Marlboros produced at a tobacco plant in Maracay, Venezuela. It did not say when the shipments would resume.
As members of the Andean Community, Venezuela and Colombia generally charge lower import tariffs to one another than they do to countries laying outside the economic trading bloc that also includes Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.
``Since they come from the Andean pact, the (Venezuelan-made cigarettes) will not be subject to any import duties,'' a company spokeswoman told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The Colombian government tariff rates which prompted the dispute with Philip Morris applied only to cigarettes produced in the United States, the spokeswoman said.
She said Philip Morris would continue to seek a reduction on those rates, and could even take its case to an international trade tribunal.
Colombian officials charge the company is declaring customs values well below the cigarettes' true value and U.S. prices.