Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Duty free imports pose threat to national economy, customs chief says

The decision to reduce the value of goods that one person may bring into the country duty free from ?1000 to ?200 was made because duty free imports pose a threat to the economy of Belarus, Alyaksandr Shpilewski, head of the State Customs Committee, told reporters in Minsk on Friday.

"In my opinion, the import of goods by individuals constitutes one of the threats to the economy of Belarus because this provides competition to the light industry of the country," Mr. Shpilewski said.

He also noted that the move would not lead to an increase in corruption among customs officers. "We are combating corruption, but even now the level of corruption is low," he said. "There are only isolated instances of it."

The value of goods that may be imported duty free is soon expected to be reduced by a presidential edict on the initiative of the State Customs Committee, which explains that many people have made it a business to bring a huge amount of consumer goods into the country, taking advantage of the rule that one person may bring duty free goods weighing up to 35 kilograms (77 pounds).