Parallel trading

Two strikes and you're out for Shenzhen smugglers

Shenzhen officials plan to deny multiple-entry permissions to those convicted of smuggling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 3:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 3:43am

In what could be a heavy blow to cross-border traders between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Guangdong authorites are planning to deny travel permits to Shenzhen residents found to have been involved in smuggling. 

Officials from the Guangdong branch of the General Administration of Customs are working with the Ministry of Public Security in hammering out the details of new measures aimed at controlling rampant smuggling activities between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted unidentified customs officials as saying.  

The new rules would include "restrictions" on multiple-entry Hong Kong travel permits to Shenzhen residents who have been fined twice for smuggling, the newspaper said. Residents who have previously been convicted of offences related to smuggling and those who resist checks at customs checkpoints can also be denied permits, the report said.

The special travel permit, launched in 2009, grants Shenzhen residents an unlimited number of visits to Hong Kong for a year.

The move is the latest attempt by Guangdong authorities to crack down on rampant parallel trading across the border. In July, Shenzhen customs upgraded its checkpoints to detect smugglers. A green light flashes whenever it detects someone crossing the border for the third time on any given day.

Up to 95 per cent of those who cross the border multiple times per day are smugglers, the Guangdong paper said, citing local customs figures. Earlier this year, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok told the Post that 60 per cent of all parallel-goods traders were local residents, while the rest were mainlanders.

Hong Kong border residents have complained about increased congestion and rising prices, as smugglers transit through their communities to sell goods bought tax-free in the city on Shenzhen’s black market.

Last Thursday, customs in Shenzhen caught a man with 66 iPhones strapped to his body, the Shenzhen Evening News reported.

Last year, Hong Kong registered some 48.6 million tourist arrivals, which was 16 per cent more than in 2011, according to the city’s Tourism Commission. Of the 34.9 million mainland tourists, 19.8 million were same-day visitors.