Daily Management Review

Asia Times: China is the main supplier of contraband cigarettes in Southeast Asia


A recent report of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on transnational crimes said that cigarettes follow the same routes used for other contraband, including the supply of drugs and counterfeit goods.

One in five adults in Southeast Asia - 122 million people - was a smoker in 2015, which corresponds to 10% of the world market, according to the latest data.

Every second cigarette sold in some countries is contraband, which gives a lot of temptation for smokers who want to quit smoking. Singaporean smokers receive their illegal supplies from Malaysia, where cigarettes are cheaper, but they were probably brought there from Indonesia, where retail prices are even lower.

Some parties pass along the borders in the north of Vietnam and go to a weakly patrolled zone between Vietnam and Cambodia. Others are sent directly from China to Thailand for transit to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as to the countries of the Mekong River (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam). The third route goes from China to Myanmar, and then to the countries of South Asia.

Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore are either transit smuggling points or final destinations.

World Trade Organization (WTO) studies have shown that smugglers can also bypass customs checkpoints by sending cigarettes through free trade zones, especially in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos all rank at the bottom of the ratings on the effectiveness of the policy against the illegal trade in cigarettes collected for European chambers of commerce.

Against the backdrop of the fact that tax experts in Southeast Asia recently met in Cambodia to discuss the pricing policy to combat smoking, the Malaysian maritime police intercepted the cigarette smuggling cargo, which owed its existence to the same punitive measures.

At the same time, 500 workers tried to find jobs in Malaysia after two of the three tobacco plants in the country stopped production partly because the government began to sharply raise excises.

Such a dilemma is faced by medical departments, as they try to fight the huge tobacco market in the region, which is estimated at $ 9.2 billion a year, but they do not want to create a complex socio-economic situation.

source: atimes.com