Spotting a Fake Wine – Scientifically

Researchers in France have shown that genuine Bordeaux wines can be distinguished from fakes by testing the minute quantities of lead in their composition.

Wines and indeed other foods and beverages tend to have low levels of lead, resulting from environmental contamination from natural or man-made sources that is taken up into plants.

Scientists have discovered that the amounts and ratios of elemental lead and lead isotopes can serve as a “fingerprint” that can determine the geographic origin of a wine – and be used to tell a genuine vintage from a knock-off.

Levels of lead in the atmosphere have been falling dramatically in recent decades since the use of lead as an additive in fuel has been banned. It’s been known for many years that lead isotope ratios can be used to identify the origin of wines as well as other foodstuffs such as milk powder.

The latest study puts the technique through its paces for a specific task – distinguishing genuine Bordeaux wines produced by prestigious vineyards over the last 50 years from wines bottled in China between 1998 and 2009.

The researchers took 43 authentic red and white Bordeaux wines from the winemaking estates of Médoc, Graves and Libourne, and ran a comparison with 17 red wines sourced from China, including 14 labeled as ‘Bordeaux’ as well as three genuine Chinese brands. The suspect bottles were selected because they either had spelling mistakes in the names of the known wineries or claimed to be from non-existing producers.

They found that the levels of lead in the genuine French wines reflected the reduction in environmental lead seen since 1969 – the date of the earliest bottle tested – and all fell within recognised safe levels.

The suspect wines had levels that overlapped with those from the French group, but tended to have isotopes suggesting more of the lead came from man-made sources such as leaded gasoline than natural, background sources.

Moreover, a subgroup analysis for four suspicious samples said to be produced in Pauillac in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 were compared directly with genuine wines from that period and found to have different isotopic profiles.

“Despite of limited number of genuine and suspicious samples, this test give a particularly compelling example of [lead] isotopes application to authenticity issues,” write the authors.

There’s an obvious limitation to the approach of course.

“If suspicious wines … would be produced in the same region as authentic, a clear identification by lead isotopes alone may be significantly hampered or even impossible,” they note.

Source: Originally published by Securingindustry.com; Authored by Phil Taylor, 16 September 2019

French Customs seizes un-exportable Picasso’s art work worth €25m

Picasso, Head of a Young WomanA painting by Pablo Picasso estimated at more than €25 million (CHF26.5 million) and considered “unexportable” by the Spanish authorities has been seized by French customs officials on a boat moored in the French island of Corsica.

“An attempt to export to Switzerland a picture by Picasso, Head of a Young Woman, through the customs office of Bastia [a town in Corsica] last Thursday attracted the attention of French officials,” customs agents said in a statement to French news agency AFP on Tuesday.

On Friday, customs officials from the Corsican town of Calvi “boarded the ship which was moored in the marina at Calvi and demanded the documents relating to the painting which it was transporting”. According to the statement, the captain was able to produce only one document assessing the painting plus a ruling, in Spanish, from May 2015 made by the Audienca Nacional, a Spanish high court which has jurisdiction over all Spanish territory and international crimes which come under the competence of Spanish courts. This ruling confirmed that the painting was a Spanish national treasure which could never leave Spain. Source: CustomsToday

France – Customs in High School Education

20140827%20154452At the invitation of the “Institut de l’Entreprise” in the framework of its programme “Entretiens Enseignants-Entreprises”, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the Summer University’s conference entitled “La croissance en question(s)” (growth into question(s)) in the Veolia Campus, Jouy-le-Moutier, France on 27 August 2014.

Supported by the French ministry of Education and the Council of Economic Analysis, this forum gives the opportunity to high school teachers in economics and social sciences to exchange views with the business world. It also provides them with an opportunity to update their knowledge on current economic issues benefiting from the attendance of renowned economists and prominent business leaders.

260 High school teachers participated in the event and listened to a panel session on poverty reduction during which Secretary General Mikuriya explained the contribution of Customs through enhancing connectivity at the borders to secure and facilitate global supply chain. They were eager to understand how the WCO and Customs could play a significant role in trade facilitation to convey the messages to their classrooms. Source: WCO

French Customs staff numbers shrink as inspections become automated

THE number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. Picture: Seanews Turkey

THE number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. Picture: Seanews Turkey

The number of French customs officials has fallen 25 per cent over the last 20 years to 16,662 with another 300 expected to go next year as surveillance becomes more computerised. (Comment: by stark contrast French Doeane still have more staff than the South African Revenue Service, where the Customs compliment is around 2500 officers.)

“Ten years ago, 1.2 million containers a year arrived in the Port of Le Havre, with 560 customs staff and three agents of the competition and anti-fraud service,” said Bertrand Vuaroqueux of the National Union of Customs Officers. “Today, it’s 2.5 million containers, but only 400 staff.”

While the trend is EU-wide, it is more acute in France where the number of seizures of counterfeit goods has fallen by half since 2011 while 33 per cent of goods inspected in 2012 did not comply with EU rules, increase of 22 per cent from 2011.

Even the economy ministry, in charge of customs, hints at an official weakening of overall surveillance, Reuters reports. “The priority is no longer systematically to check vessels in coastal waters but to focus on the most important fraud cases,” it said in the draft 2014 budget.

European customs services are under orders to facilitate the flow of trade and make life easier for companies to avoid hobbling economic competitiveness.

Competition for business among European ports and airports has led to what critics call a race to the bottom between national customs services.

The big winners are Europe’s two largest ports, Antwerp and Rotterdam, where China has invested in making the 12-million-container-a-year megaport on the Maas/Rhine Estuary.

As the EU seeks a string of free-trade deals across the globe, Antwerp is building the world’s largest lock, wide as a 19-lane highway, to accommodate a new generation of giant ships.

Like its rival European ports, Antwerp is under pressure from importers to do checks quickly and efficiently. While only one to two per cent of goods entering Europe are physically inspected nowadays, online checks of digital paperwork are carried out on the basis of risk analysis.

The role of customs has also been changed by the single European market, which allows the free movement of goods inside the 28-nation EU and by globalisation which multiplied international supply chains, and by the economic crisis. Such trends may accelerate with new customs rules having customs declarations made at an office remote from the point of entry of the goods starting next month. “We will have to establish rules of engagement to ensure it doesn’t become a big sieve,” a European Commission source told Reuters. Source: Seanews.com

India to Become World’s Largest Infrastructure Goods Importer by 2030

HSBCAccording to the recently released HSBC Trade Forecast Report, by 2020 India is expected to surge past the United States as the world’s biggest importer of infrastructure goods – a position it is expected to hold until at least 2030. This is a result of the country’s increased demand for materials for infrastructure projects (i.e., metals, minerals, buildings and transport equipment) as it invests more in the building of its civil infrastructure.

The report, which focuses primarily on infrastructure, notes that as Asian economies grow they will take an increasing share of infrastructure-related imports over the next two decades. Currently, the U.S. tops the list of countries importing infrastructure goods, followed by India, Hong Kong, China and Germany. By 2030, India will sit up the top of this list, followed by the U.S., China, Hong Kong and Korea.

Sandeep Uppal, HSBC India Managing Director and Head of Commercial Banking, noted that the “rising middle classes across Asia’s rapidly emerging markets, especially in India and China, will drive significant infrastructure demand in the region.”

“Aspirations of the new middle class and rapid urbanization will force India to upgrade its civil infrastructure, thus pushing up demand for overseas infrastructure related goods,” she added.

To continue with the rising trends, the report further states that Asia as a whole is predicted to see the most rapid growth in merchandise trade between 2020-2030 – led by India, China and Vietnam – at estimated annual export growth rates of more than 10 percent.

For comparison, the export rates of European countries, such as the UK, France and Germany, are forecasted to grow at about 4-5 percent annually on average over this 10-year period. Meanwhile, average export growth in the U.S. is estimated to top off at around 6 percent annually during the same period.

What this means is that by 2030 infrastructure-related goods will be the most commonly traded type of goods, increasing in market share from the current rate of 45 percent of total goods exported to upwards of 54 percent. Source: India Briefing