No books for Philippines

Due to a change in Philippine customs policies, the importation of books into the Philippines has come to a halt. Robin Hemley writes the long version of the story at McSweeney’s, and there’s additional coverage here. It seems a customs official asked an importer to pay duty on a shipment of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Even though duties on books are pretty clearly prohibited by the Florence Agreement (an international treaty the Philippine government signed in 1950), and even though duty on books has never been required before, the importer paid. Now Philippine customs wants duty on all book imports. From Hemley’s article:

Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales explained the government’s position to a group of frustrated booksellers and importers in an Orwellian PowerPoint presentation, at which she reinterpreted the Florence Agreement as well as Philippine law RA 8047, providing for “the tax and duty-free importation of books or raw materials to be used in book publishing.” For lack of a comma after the word “books,” the undersecretary argued that only books “used in book publishing” (her underlining) were tax-exempt.

Until this gets resolved, my book of Ferdinand Marcos Bass fishing anecdotes will have to remain on hold.


(Via Komikero Comics Journal.)

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