Thailand to lose Bt3-4 billion revenue from AFTA tariff cuts

import and export duties

Thailand’s Customs Department expects revenue from import and export duties will decline by Bt3-4 billon (US$90-120 million) in the wake of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) cuts which became effective on January 1, with the department adjusting its role from tariff collector to facilitator, a senior customs official said on Friday.

Customs Department Director-General Somchai Sujjapongse said the number of Thai entrepreneurs initially seeking to benefit from tariff elimination under AFTA, has increased by 15 per cent, causing the Customs Department to lose income of about three to four billion baht.

However, he said it is too soon to evaluate how much the tariff collections will drop as more exporters are likely to use their right to benefit from AFTA from February onwards.

Put in effect on January 1, AFTA automatically caused falling tariff collections. However, the department expects to achieve its income target of about Bt78 billion in 2010 as the overall economy has improved.

“The department will reform its role to facilitate the industrial sector and develop its personnel and IT systems related to tax refunds, which will help streamline processes and save costs for entrepreneurs,” the director-general said.

Under AFTA, six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) cut tariffs on nearly 8,000 items.

Six countries include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei and Thailand. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have until 2015 to reduce their tariffs. (TNA)