Huanggang steps up crackdown on parallel traders

Updated: 2014-10-29 07:58

By Zhou Mo in Shenzhen(HK Edition)

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Huanggang Customs in Shenzhen have seized more than 40 tonnes of groceries and daily commodities at Futian port in its latest crackdown on parallel traders.

Customs officers have been conducting a special operation since Oct 24, targeting travelers with "parallel trader characteristics" - those carrying large luggages or bringing goods that obviously exceed permitted amounts.

"So far, we have launched four special operations, in which we seized more than 40 tonnes of groceries and daily commodities," Zhu Yufeng, an official at Huanggang Customs, said. "On the first day of our operations, we conducted key inspections on about 1,200 travelers."

The goods seized from parallel traders cover a number of items, including baby milk powder, shampoo, cosmetics and biscuits, according to Customs officials. The traders carry an average of 30 to 60 kilograms of goods while commuting across the border up to 30 times a day.

Huanggang steps up crackdown on parallel traders

Among the offenders, 30 percent are Hong Kong residents and the rest are mainlanders. "Mainland parallel traders are not limited to Shenzhen residents holding multiple-entry permits, but also those with business or family visit visas," Zhu told China Daily.

Mainland residents are allowed to bring personal products worth no more than 5,000 yuan ($817.7) into the mainland on each trip, while the limit for Hongkongers is 2,000 yuan. However, the rule only applies to a number of travelers who visit Hong Kong occasionally. For short-term multiple-entry visitors, they are only allowed to carry travel necessities. According to Customs officers, mainlanders who visit Hong Kong more than once in 15 days are considered short-term multiple entry visitors.

The number of people traveling to Hong Kong through Futian port has seen a big increase since September -from approximately 130,000 per day before the Mid-Autumn Festival to 170,000 daily. "We believe the increase has something to do with parallel traders," Zhu said.

Facing stepped up inspections, parallel traders are making every effort to circumvent them to make a profit based on the price difference of the products sold in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

Some parallel traders have been caught attempting to smuggle goods to the mainland using prams. In a recent joint action by Shenzhen and Hong Kong Customs, officials seized 40 Leica digital cameras, four Apple computers, 29 cell phones, six video cameras and various kinds of food products and daily commodities.

Huanggang Customs officials say an online forum where parallel traders exchange ideas and information has been closed down.

(HK Edition 10/29/2014 page8)