The Ministry of Commerce has issued a Notification on the ban of electronic waste (e-waste) imports per HS Codes 84 and 85, specifically for Commodity Code 899, or the ban of e-waste imports under the Basel Convention, effective September 15, 2020. Currently, Thailand's imports of electronics classified as not very useful are relatively moderate. These include used electronics (HS Codes 84 and 85, specifically for Commodity Code 800) and e-waste (HS Codes 84 and 85, specifically for Commodity Code 899), valued at USD59.7 million in 2019. Having considered their details, we have found out the following:
- Electronic products, which are classified as e-waste and subject to the Ministry of Commerce's ban, are waste under the Basel Convention. Such imports were primarily LED light bulbs, electrical control panels and integrated circuits, diode tubes, and heaters, valued at only USD0.6 million in 2019. Most of those imports were from China, accounting for 81 percent of the total import value. Those products are considered as waste and having almost no benefit. In addition, only a few of them can be recycled, because they are hazardous; therefore a proper disposal process is required to avoid any adverse impact on the environment.
- Used electronic products, on the other hand, are quite interesting due to their high import value of USD59.1 million. They can also be used to add value to other products. Those that can be reused are supplied to the second-hand electronic market or REM market while others are recycled to extract valuable metals, such as copper, silver, gold, aluminum and other metals, which can be used to add value to other products. However, such imports have a very short life cycle, so they will eventually become waste, and there are high disposal costs involved.
We at KResearch are of the view that the ban on e-waste imports by the Ministry of Commerce will be a boon for Thailand's environment and help save on environment-related costs to a certain extent. However, to efficiently address problems related to e-waste imports, a ban should be imposed on the rising imports of used electrical appliances and used (second-hand) electronics too, because they will become waste in the end. Therefore, import measures on second-hand electronics should be tightened to prevent other countries from using Thailand as their dumping ground for e-waste; for instance, importers must be able to prove that e-waste imports can be used to add value to other products.