We live in an extremely fast moving world where global trade is fundamental to the way we live and to our economic development and prosperity. Customs play a significant part in ensuring that global trade conforms to international requirements and that the taxes due are paid to governments to fund public services. Where goods are highly taxed and easily portable criminals, terrorists and insurgents will take advantage of any weaknesses in customs and revenue controls to amass profits. They do not care whether laws are flouted, consumers’ health is damaged, governments lose revenues or legitimate businesses lose trade.
Challenges associated with the illicit trade in tobacco products are becoming more complex. Successful law enforcement interdiction efforts have prompted perpetrators to develop ever more sophisticated smuggling techniques. Customs all over the world have witnessed growth in illicit trade of tobacco products over recent years. Governments are facing increasingly well-networked and organized traffickers whose activities are harder to detect and disrupt. Consequently, we need to step up our efforts to tackle the problem.
New ideas, questioning, forward planning, learning from others and greater collaboration across enforcement agencies, other national agencies and with the legitimate trade will enable us to modernize and optimize the use of the expensive and scarce resources in tackling the illicit tobacco trade. We need to make governments and the public aware of the implications of illicit trade and gain their full support. An innovative approach, creating and building on partnerships will enable us to transform our efforts and achieve significant reductions both in illicit trade and the number of criminals who benefit from it.
This publication builds on the successful first edition of the ITIC publication, The Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and How to Tackle It in 2011 with new material reflecting the ever-changing world we live in. It brings together principles and good practice from across the world which I hope will lead to improved partnerships and working practices.
Secretary General, World Customs Organization