New customs house to foster growing Thai-Malaysian trade: official

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SONGKHLA, July 28 – Thailand’s Customs Department and its Malaysian counterpart have jointly set up a new customs house in the southern province of Songkhla at the Thai-Malaysian border to support the growing trade between the two countries, a senior Thai finance official said on Thursday.

Permanent Secretary for Finance Areepong Bhoocha-oom said that as cross border trade has expanded annually and the number of trucks passing the customs house have caused traffic congestion, therefore both countries agreed to build an additional customs house. On the Thai side, the new facility was named Ban Makok Customs House, which is about one kilometre from the existing Sadao Customs House.

On the Malaysian side, construction of the new customs house is nearly completed.

In addition, a Malaysian government agency is scheduled to build an industrial estate on 720 rai of land to house factories to produce electronic goods, spare parts and other industrial products which are then expected to be exported to Thailand.

On the Thai side, the customs house construction on 19 rai of land is almost finished and expected to be opened in March 2012.

However, the planned construction of areas for transit of goods and an industrial estate on 700 rai of land is under negotiation to reclaim land due to villagers’ land encroachment.

Meanwhile, Prasong Poontaneat, Director-General of the Customs Department, said that the agency must closely monitor and tighten customs measures, particularly false declarations of origin of imported goods to avoid tariff.

He explained that many traders exported products made in non-ASEAN countries but apply preferential tariff treatment which are meant for ASEAN member countries.

As goods imported and exported through the Sadao Customs House were valued at Bt270 billion (US$9 billion), the highest value if all Thailand’s customs houses, and the cross border trade continues to expand, the additional customs house must be set up to enhance the rising trade, Sadao customs chief  Boontiam Chokewiwat added.

To clamp down illegal use of ASEAN preferential treatment tariffs, the customs department has revised its regulations by checking all items passing through the customs house instead of just random checks.