China clamps down on iPad smuggling trade

With China telling some US-based shipping agents not to accept orders for iPads, and warning that travellers would need to declare their gadgets at the border and pay a 10-per cent import duty on electronics, the thriving US-China iPad smuggling trade will take a hit.

Two companies that ship consignments to China, BLZ Express and Global Courier Services, say they no longer accept iPad shipments. BLZ, based in Fremont, California, posted a notice on its website this month saying: "Our clearing warehouses have stopped receiving iPad in accordance with a recent customs authority notification."

In Shenzen, the state-owned Guangzhou Daily across the border from Hong Kong said in an online report that the newest iPad was among 20 taxable goods that travelers would need to declare.

A huge demand for Apple products in China, coupled with severe local supply constraints has created a thriving black market worth millions of dollars in China.  A 16-gigabyte iPad bought in San Francisco for about $540 including tax can easily fetch $1,000 in Shanghai the next day. Apple sold over 3 million of the devices that are now 4G-ready with a sharper "retina" display - in its first weekend.(See: Apple sells record 3 million new iPad tablet computers)

According to a Reuters report, which cited an Apple employee who was not authorised to speak on behalf of the company, one could pretty much determine when the first iPad arrived in China by monitoring the first flight out from the US on launch day.

Makers of iPad accessories, such as cases and speakers, also have to hire people to wait in line on launch day, the report quoted a source involved in that business.