Would tamiyas whole sale price not be the same to both?
Ideally yes it should be, the main differences lie within the particular countries and whether the shop in question abides by the rules.
For Tamiya operates through exclusive distributors in the UK, and I would imagine in the USA as well. This means I couldn't approach Tamiya and say sell to me! I have to buy through the Tamiya distributor in the UK. This mark up means I can't compete with Hong Kong sellers who are selling far under the RRP.
This is good for consumers, but if there is no profit to be found in a product and combine that with the fact that Tamiya's 1/16 tanks are a significant spend with a low sales potentialand we can't really stock it. If all shops stop stocking a product then so will the distributor and the imports dry up. The damage is done to Tamiya.There is a very good reason why one of the UK's biggest model retailers just dumped their entire 1/16 stock and are not looking to bring them back in.
Many companies basically force there distributors not to sell out of their economic area, Hot Toys who make some of the most expensive 1/6 scale figures are a good example of this.
It will be interesting to know if Tamiya sales can justify the creation of a new tank, or if what happened to Hooben will happen to them as well.
Still, if Scotland winds its independance from the UK then it opens up possibilities for new distributors.