Thailand’s Customs Department is preparing to make a 30% cut to import duties on luxury items in hopes of boosting tourist spending. The department held a meeting with the private sector in January to sort out the details of the tariff reduction before forwarding the details to Somchai Sujjapongse, finance permanent secretary, for consideration. Kulit Sombatsiri, director general of the Customs Department, stated that the new duty level must not be detrimental to domestic manufacturers.
The department’s move comes after several requests from the private sector to further promote Thailand as a shopping paradise for tourists while also encouraging local consumers to shop at home instead of traveling abroad. The government is taking steps to stimulate tourist spending and domestic consumption in hopes of boosting economic growth, as private and public investments take much longer to produce results.
In the final week of the year, tax breaks of up to 15,000 baht per individual was offered as part of an attempt to encourage shopping. Recent estimates from the Finance Ministry project that the tax break added 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points to Thailand’s GDP for the year. This may boost GDP growth up to 3% in 2016, compared to the previous forecast of 2.8%.