An official from the Customs Department thinks that “partly driven by higher earnings from the stronger baht” led to the rise in the trade value of luxury items in Thailand in June. In June, the Customs Department “made arrests in a total of 1798 instances” and “seized commodities with a combined worth of 514 million baht.” The head of the enforcement division, Tada Choomchaiyo, said that 45 cases included “smuggled brand-name items worth 42.9 million baht in total,” which is more than twice the average of 20 million baht over the previous year.
Why was there such a significant increase in numbers? Mr Tada thinks that “the stronger baht resulted in a bigger profit from importing products such as luxury watches and bags for sale in the local market.” Because imported items incur more expenses when processed through customs, these commodities are more likely to be smuggled. An example of this is provided by Mr Tada, who says that “a luxury bag is subject to a 20% import charge in addition to the 7% value-added tax (VAT).” This indicates that a person can save not just the retail price of the item but also the extra expenditures that come with it in customs and taxes if they successfully smuggle the goods.
Smuggled products discovered in customs areas will be confiscated; however, “smugglers are liable to a fine of two times the product price and tax if they are detained outside of customs checkpoints,” according to the Customs and Border Protection website. According to the Bangkok Post, among the 1,798 people arrested the previous month, “451 were engaged with smuggling commodities worth 73.4 million-baht, 1,233 avoided tax for 201 million-baht, and imports of restricted and illegal products made up the balance.” Chaiyuth Khamkun, a spokeswoman for the Customs Department, said in a statement released the previous week that “The Department advised enterprises to utilise its ‘one-stop-service’ facilities to speed through customs and to comply with the rules.” The Department “had coordinated with police and the Department of Special Investigation” to carry out its responsibility of upholding the law.