SAN JOSE – Costa Rica is hosting the 5th Meeting of the Latin American Alliance Against Trafficking on Tuesday and Wednesday, which seeks to strengthen commercial legality and combat fraud that moves about two percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region.
The Latin American Alliance against Smuggling, made up of companies, chambers of commerce and governments in the region, said that the objective of the event is to share good practices, disseminate effective strategies and strengthen public-private coordination in anti-contraband efforts.
Data from the Alliance states that smuggling accounts for around two percent of Latin America’s GDP, approximately $150,000 million a year, and affects industries including steel, tobacco, liquor, medicines and cosmetics, metal-mechanics and steel, plastics and footwear, textiles and clothing, and cybersecurity.
Edson Vismona, president of the Brazilian Institute for Ethics in Competition (ETCOS), said: “In 2018, Brazil, the continent’s largest economy, lost close to $50,000 million to the illegal market, the main driver of this problem is the smuggling of cigarettes, which dominates 54 percent of the market in Brazil, 24 percent in Chile and 12 percent in Brazil.”
The criminal modality provides markets with smuggled products, without regulations or controls, which harms both consumers and the treasury.
The countries that make up the Alliance and took part in the event were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The meeting was an opportunity to present the links between smuggling and money laundering, counterfeiting of brands and the need to count on regional collaboration to dismantle criminal gangs, as well as to make known the most suitable mechanisms to counteract illicit trade.
During the meeting, illicit trade will also be dealt with through trade policy, trade defense measures, the authorized economic operator and tools to combat this scourge.
“Integration among countries in the areas of intelligence, diplomacy and repression is fundamental to combat smuggling,” Vismona said, adding: “Balancing the tax burden among the countries of the region is one of the most efficient ways to combat smuggling.”
The meeting was inaugurated by Melvin Enrique Redondo, of the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA).
Among the topics to be studied are open contraband, technical contraband and public officials, as well as sector discussion tables on cigarettes, textiles and clothing, beverages, footwear, steel and fuels.
The event was jointly organized by the Costa Rica Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Business of Colombia.