An Easy Solution to the Problems Created by Parallel Traders
Recently we have seen awful images in Hong Kong, traditionally a tolerant and civilized city. Common citizens were seen attacking and insulting parallel traders crossing the border from China. First a limit was imposed on the number of powder milk cans for infants a person may carry over the border, but then the buying spree extended to medicine, cosmetics, food in general, and even to luxury items. This situation has created a lot of inconvenience to Hong Kong citizens, already stressed out by the rising cost of houses because of speculative money flowing in from China.
Local residents feel under siege by this army of people moving around carrying trolleys, clogging shops and malls, shouting and pushing. The Hong Kong government has promised to discuss with the Chinese Government to limit the number of multi-entry permits issued to P.R.C.’s citizens. But it seems to me that there is an actor missing from such raging debate: the missing side is the China Customs and Excise Offices at the border crossings.There is always a limit to the quantity of goods that a private citizen might carry back from trips abroad and for all the goods in excess duties should be paid. China is not a tax free Country and if a person entering with goods worth more than a certain limited amount, by law, he or she, needs to pay duties at the border.
Why, then, China let such massive in-flow of goods enter tax-free through its borders every day? Why not collect such duties and put them to good use, building schools and hospitals for the common people? By stepping up controls and imposing fines customs posts may greatly reduce the influx of people carrying out such illegal trade while protecting genuine tourists and visitors from China. There is no need of limit the visas, what it is needed is for customs officers to work harder and impose duties on goods where they are lawfully due, nothing else.