Crackdown on illegal imports nets US$18 million

Mobile teams patrolling for illegal trade have seized more than US$18 million in goods over the past year and a half, according to the Central Committee for Preventing and Controlling Illegal Trading.

It said 3,391 cases of illegal trade have been transferred to the Customs Department as of June 26.

The crackdown on illegal trade began on November 1, 2012 with the aim of protecting consumers from low-quality goods and increasing tax revenues.

The central committee has made 2,493 seizures worth more than $14 million since then. Teams under the control of regional or state governments have seized $2 million worth of illegally imported goods in 849 cases.

Another 60 or so seizures had been made near Yangon Port. Twenty seizures had taken place during the so-called education period of the crackdown with a combined value of nearly $350,000.

During this period those caught with illegal imports were warned or fined but not charged. More than $500,000 worth of goods was seized near the port in 37 cases after the education period ended.

“Some commodities including expired and inedible foods had to be destroyed,” said Nyunt Aung, a deputy director general at the central committee.

The committee estimates that about 20 per cent of illegal trade enters the country overland and the rest by ports. Starting from July 2, the crackdown will expand to all seaports as well as Yangon’s airport.

Anyone caught with illegal imports at these locations this month will be fined. Starting next month they will face up to three years in jail.


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