Sunday, December 8, 2013

China Jails Rice Smugglers

Smuggling of rice into China has exploded in the last two years since Chinese prices are higher than those in Vietnam and Myanmar. On November 27, Chinese news media reported that 26 accused smugglers are on trial in the Peoples Intermediate Court of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, apparently a signal that authorities are cracking down.

Two men were accused of abusing regulations that allow residents in border areas to buy up to 50 kg of imported rice for their own use tariff-free. The two allegedly collected the names of more than 1000 border residents to purchase Vietnamese rice which they sold in a wholesale market in Nanning. Another method was to bring rice over the border undetected, using small trails that are not monitored by authorities.

Some are accused of smuggling 10,000 or more metric tons of rice; the largest amount is 77,000 mt. The earliest cases occurred in January 2012.

This is a reversal from 2008 when rice was being smuggled out of China to the Middle East. At that time, Ningbo customs officials found bags of rice and instant noodles hidden in crates labeled as containing transportation equipment.

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