Swiss customs generates record income

Swiss border guards seize smuggled groceries but also forged passports and banknotes Keystone

The Swiss Customs Administration has said on Tuesday that it generated a record income of CHF24.1 billion ($27.1 billion) in 2013, a third of the federal government’s total revenues.

This content was published on February 18, 2014 minutes

Every day 20,000 lorries cross the Swiss border, the customs office said. In 2013, Switzerland imported CHF509 million and exported CHF582 million worth of goods every single day. The imports generated value added taxes worth CHF12.2 billion last year, half of the customs total revenues.

The customs administration’s main concern remains organised smuggling, mainly groceries like meat, vegetables, fruit, cereal, oil and wine – all goods, which in addition to the value added tax also have a customs duty to protect domestic producers.

The border guards seized record volumes in some cases, such as 91 tons of smuggled meat and 1,900 tons of smuggled feedstuff, the result of Swiss farmers for example failing to declare hay they cultivated on the other side of the border.

The customs service also recorded more than 20,000 cases of smuggling in the private tourist traffic, another new record, according to its director general Rudolf Dietrich. At the same time, Dietrich stressed that the customs office continues to focus its resources on organised professional smuggling, which endangers residents’ health and hurts the economy.

The border guards also made more arrests and in more than 1,000 cases, they intervened because they suspected crime-related proceeds or instrumentalities according to figures the administration published for the first time.

Over the past three years, the smuggling of illicit weapons has increased steadily. After a rise of 47% in 2012, the numbers of smuggling cases increased another 22% to 2,366, the customs service said.

Total numbers for drug smuggling remained stable, but customs guards seized 416 kilograms of marijuana, three times more than the previous year, and also twice as much khat with 2,894 kilograms.

Another challenge are illegal entries, with nearly 12,000 cases in 2013. The customs administration said it also intervened 211 times because of suspected people smuggling.

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