Confronting automobile smuggling
Recently, a ring that smuggled out stolen vehicles to abroad was rounded up. Stolen and smuggled vehicles are not of guaranteed quality and it is not known whether they will work properly.
Naturally, they damage the brand image of Korean carmakers and the property right of the citizens, hurting both Korean automobile industry and consumers.
Why is this problem occurring repeatedly? It is because it is possible to switch products in the course of loading good for export. In order to support exporting companies, the government removed most regulations in the export customs procedure since the 1990s. The swift customs procedure through overall relaxation of export-related regulations helped Korean economy’s export-driven growth.
However, it also accompanied adverse effects. It became harder to control export goods. Export goods do not go through the bonded zone, and exporters can send goods on ships or airplanes directly to another country by reporting the export goods at the location of their choice.
Smugglers exploited this to swiftly send out stolen goods abroad.
What is the fundamental solution to prevent smuggling while maintaining swift flow of export? The answer is to establish a system to strictly control controversial items, such as automobiles, in the customs procedure. If the items with a high possibility of smuggling are selected and only allowed to be exported from controlled areas, switching of goods can be prevented and overall flow won’t be disrupted.
Countries with their own automobile brands are working hard to reduce damage to the automobile industry from illegal smuggling. The United States requires used cars to remain in the bonded zone for export registration 72 hours before departure, and the loading process needs to be approved by the customs. Japan also requires used cars to enter the bonded zone and be registered.
Last year, Korea revised the customs law to revamp the system to require automobiles and other items prone to smuggling to be brought into the bonded zone and registered. The government needs to recognize the seriousness of the automobile smuggling issue and improve the system. Korea does not want to be labeled an exporter of stolen cars.