Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Customs begins luggage checks for Thailand arrivals

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Aviation Police Bureau officers inspect a passenger’s carry-on luggage after it was checked by an X-ray machine at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Customs officials yesterday began checks of carry-on luggage belonging to travelers arriving from Thailand to prevent illegal pork imports, as African swine fever spreads in Vietnam, the Council of Agriculture said.

Southeast Asian nations are exposed to increasing risk of the highly contagious disease, with 10 Vietnamese provinces having reported cases since last month, following outbreaks in China since August last year, the council said.

Although Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have not reported infection, the council last month began listing them as high-risk areas due to their adjacency to Vietnam in a bid to keep the disease at bay, it said.

All carry-on items from high-risk areas have to undergo X-ray scans and sniffer dog checks at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, it said, adding that check-in luggage from foreign nations are already subject to X-ray checks.

Other Southeast Asian nations, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, would not be added to the list at present, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) said on Thursday when making the announcement about Thailand.

Travelers who illegally import pork products from areas infected with the disease face fines of NT$200,000 (US$6,472) for the first offense and NT$1 million for subsequent breaches, while those who fail to pay the fines at customs would be denied entry into Taiwan, the council said.

As of 5pm yesterday, 17 Chinese, one Israeli, one American, one Filipino and one Vietnamese have been denied entry after failing to pay a NT$200,000 fine for carrying pork products from China or Vietnam, council data showed.

Since Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have not yet reported infections, those caught transporting pork products from those areas would face a lesser fine of NT$30,000 for the first offense, NT$300,000 for a second offense and NT$1 million for subsequent breaches, it said.

Customs officials check all carry-on items and do not allow any meat products through.

Taiwan last year received more than 11 million foreign visitors, among whom nearly 4.3 million came from China, Hong Kong and Macau, while 2.4 million were from Southeast Asian countries, Tourism Bureau data showed.

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