Expensive cell phones could see new luxury tax

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A luxury tax on mobile phones is necessary to prevent excessive imports of the product, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Nguyen Thanh Bien said Tuesday.

A special consumption tax should be imposed on cell phones worth more than VND3 million, Bien said at a press briefing.

Local consumers cannot be banned from using expensive phones like the iPhone, but imports of such phones need to be regulated to prevent negative impacts on the country's trade balance, he said.

There is no import duty on mobile phones now as per commitments under a trade pact between China and the South East Asian region. Thus, a luxury tax would be a practical option, Bien said.

But it's up to legislators to decide whether or not to impose the tax, he said.

The import of unnecessary products must be restricted and exports must be boosted to narrow the country's trade gap, chief of the government's office Nguyen Xuan Phuc said last week. "It's not necessary for a poor country to spend US$1 billion importing the iPhone," he said.

Vietnam's year-to-date trade deficit has reached $3.5 billion, official statistics showed.

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