TAIWAN’S KAOHSIUNG PORT UNCOVERED BIGGEST EVER WINE SMUGGLING CASE
By Susan Lewis
Customs of Taiwan’s southern Kaohsiung Port has recently uncovered its biggest ever wine smuggling case, having seized 20,896 bottles of undeclared Australian wines including top brand Penfolds worth a total of NT$20m (USD0.6m).
The smuggled wines were hidden in a container together with cargoes declared as electronic parts. The container was originated from Hong Kong, its destination is Busan Port of Korea transiting Kaohsiung Port.
This is the biggest wine smuggle case by volume ever uncovered by the Kaohsiung Port Customs. The second biggest such case by volume is the biggest by value, it was uncovered in May 2018 when Kaohsiung customs officials found a batch of 10,958 bottles of undeclared Penfolds labels worth NT$30m (USD1m).
Last May’s smuggled bottles were also hidden in a container together with cargoes declared as electronic parts. The container was also originated from Hong Kong, transiting through Kaohsiung Port to final destination Busan Port of Korea.
In both cases, the Kaohsiung customs authority has destroyed all the smuggled bottles.
Korea and Australia free trade agreement came into effect in 2014, Australian wine export to Korea has since enjoyed tariff free status. However, the Korean authority still levies a 30% liquor tax, a 10% education tax and another 10% VAT on all wines sold in the Korean market.
According to the 2018 Worldwide Cost of Living report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Seoul is the second most expensive city to buy a bottle of wine among the world’s top 10 most expensive cities. The average price for a bottle of table wine in Seoul is USD27.02.
The Hong Kong authority has got rid of all wine taxes in 2008. Australian wines can enter Hong Kong entirely tax free. Gangsters may have made use of this arrangement to smuggle wines from Hong Kong to Korea through Kaohsiung disguised as electronic goods to avoid attention.
(the writer can be contacted at: SusanLewis@thewinechronicle.com)
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