Customs spots June surge in smuggled goods
The trade value of brand-name products smuggled into Thailand surged in June, partly motivated by bigger profits from the firmer baht, says a Customs Department official.
The department last month saw 45 cases of smuggled brand-name goods worth 42.9 million baht in total, more than doubling the average monthly haul of 20 million baht in the past year, said Tada Choomchaiyo, director of the enforcement division.
The stronger baht resulted in a higher profit from importing goods such as luxury watches and bags for domestic sale, Mr Tada said.
Take Patek Philippe watches as an example. A watch imported into Thailand is subject to a 5% duty plus a 7% value-added tax (VAT), constituting a tax amount of almost 100,000 baht, based on a list price of 800,000 baht.
A luxury bag is subject to 20% import duty plus the 7% VAT, Mr Tada said.
Unlike in the past, brand-name products are being smuggled by gangs. The Customs Department has a watch list of 100 suspected smugglers.
Arrests must be made cautiously, Mr Tada said, as some smugglers pretend they've owned their luxury goods for a while and are often wearing or carrying them.
Some smugglers separately ship watch boxes and warranty papers from overseas to avoid customs inspection, he said.
Customs officials will seize smuggled goods when they are discovered in customs areas, but smugglers are subject to a fine of two times the product price and tax if they are arrested outside of customs checkpoints.
Chaiyut Kumkun, a customs spokesman, said the department made arrests in 1,798 cases with a combined value of 514 million baht in seized goods last month.
Of the total cases, 451 were involved with smuggling goods worth 73.4 million baht, 1,233 evaded tax worth 201 million baht and imports of restricted and prohibited goods made up the rest.
Apart from smuggling brand-name goods, smugglers also import supplementary foods and cosmetics from China and South Korea, Mr Chaiyut said.
From Oct 1, 2018 to July 4, 2019 the department managed to amass 83.2 billion baht in revenue, up 684 million baht from the year-earlier period and exceeding the target by 6.5 billion baht.