Vice Chairman of State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Vice-Senior General Soe Win delivers address at coordination meeting of Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee


Vice Chairman of State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Vice-Senior General Soe Win delivers address at coordination meeting of Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee

Nay Pyi Taw December 14

Coordination Meeting (6/2023) of the Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee was held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Commerce this afternoon, with an address by Chairman of the committee Vice Chairman of the State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Vice-Senior General Soe Win.

Also present at the meeting were union ministers U Win Shein, Lt-Gen Yar Pyae and U Tun Ohn, deputy ministers, Nay Pyi Taw Council members, the Chairman of the Tax Appellate Tribunal, permanent secretaries, directors-general, chairmen of relevant organizations and officials while chairmen of special task forces from states and regions participated via video conference system.  

First, the Vice-Senior General delivered an address, saying it has been 12 times since the Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee held its first coordination meeting. A total of 391 decisions were made during the 11 previous coordination meetings. After the steering was reconstructed, a total of 4,232 cases worth an estimate of Ks-65.056 billion from January to December, 2022 and a total of 5,753 cases worth an estimate of Ks-127.447 billion from January to November, 2023 were exposed and confiscated, totaling 9,985 cases worth an estimate of Ks-192.503 billion during the 23 months.

Illegal trade is defined by the World Trade Organization as production, purchase, sale, transportation, movement, transfer, receipt, possession or distribution of goods that are restricted by international laws and any activity that intends to encourage them. In implementing the market economy in any country, the government, entrepreneurs and consumers play a major role and governments have to take measures to increase the revenue of the country, to prevent losses of taxes and revenues and to guarantee safe products for the public with the aim of eradicating illegal trade.

It can be seen that governments across the world have to place emphasis on eradication of illegal trade, which threatens the stability of macro-economy. It is necessary for our country to take measures to increase the revenue of the country by boosting production of import substitute goods by MSMEs and industrial zones in the country, strengthening exports to balance revenues and spending and exporting industrial or value[1]added finished products rather than raw materials.

As industrial finished goods are mass-produced in accordance with the demand of the market in foreign countries, it can be seen that the production cost of individual items has decreased. If industrial finished goods produced in Myanmar have disadvantages in manufacturing and limitations, the production cost for individual items will increase, losing competitiveness to illegally imported foreign products and causing losses for products manufactured in industrial zones. Therefore, measures must be taken to boost production of finished goods not only for local consumption but also for exports and to prevent illegally imported finished goods from foreign countries. And relevant departments are required to restrict imports of finished goods from other countries by increasing taxes in accordance with international rules and regulations for the long-term survival of local industries. Illegal trade leads to revenue losses for the country, wrong decisions due to incorrect trade data, foreign exchange rate instabilities caused by disruption of the banking system and monetary flow, low market competitiveness for local industries due to illegal imports, decreased foreign investment, losses of employment opportunities and suffering of the public due to illegally imported fake or expired medicines and medical equipment, food and cosmetics and disrupts manufacturing and trade, which are essential for economic development of the country.

Therefore, it is necessary for all to take measures for eradication of illegal trade as a national duty. During the period from the finish of 5.2023 meeting of the steering committee to date, Taninthayi Region Illegal Trade Eradication Special Task Force received information that lead was illegally excavated and exported abroad. So, 123.904 tons of lead worth Ks-3.717 billion was seized in September 2023. The Customs Department also searched three passengers who came from Singapore by air on 4 November 2023 and seized 16 kilogrammes of gold, US$-120,000 and 259 iPhones, totalling more than Ks-3.946 billion as significant incidents. In this regard, information is of importance.

Vice-Senior General Soe Win stressed the need for soonest awarding informants as information availability is of important in eradicating illegal trade, and officials need to build an information network so as to efficiently apply the information in taking action against offenders. Thanks to imformation from the Customs Department of India, the Vice-Senior General recounted that narcotic drugs were seized at the Yangon International Airport two times.

So, countries and departments have to exchange information to expose and seize the illegal trade, especially narcotic drugs and arms. MyCo system has been set up for establishment of companies, Myanmar Trade Net 2.0 system for registration of export and impot and application of licence, MACSS for applying the export and import declaration, and online matching system for accepting money from abroad.

And, governments contact each other for businesspersons to operate trade process online with the aim of eradicating illegal trade and ensuring smooth process of trade as part of efforts to initiating the national single windows. In this regard, government departments and UMFCCI have to widerly orgainze businessoer[1]sons to follow legal procedures in their trade process. Businesspersons have to avoid taking chance over weakness of legal procedure for their selfishness and give necessary suggestions to the relevant departments for economic development of the State.

Those departments have to accept and verify suggestions of bus[1]inesspersons to amend necessary measures. Most of the businesspersons are operating their businesses honestly with correct measurements. But, some are doing businesses with greediness. In conducting investigation, action was taken against some fuel and cooking oil import companies. Hence, some companies were taken action for their greedy acts over the State and the people under the law in taking inappropriate benefits. Chairmen of region and state illegal trade eradication special task forces, directors general of OSS departments and assigned service personnel have been instructed not to participate in illegal trade and to be free from bribery cases and officials at different levels are instructed to supervise them.

However, assigned staff members participate in the various ways of allowing illegal goods by taking bribes turning a blind eye to illegal commodities. Moreover, they do not take action against illegal commodities despite knowing types of commodities and take action against just illegal low-priced commodities instead of other illegal goods. Hence, the Vice-Senior General instructed chairmen of the special task forces, OSS directors general, assigned staff and administrative officials to effectively take against illegal commodities. Moreover, assigned staff members need to politely communicate with those businesspersons in checking commodities and provide necessary assistance for them. Impolite acts can cause hindrance to trade as well as bother the people. If such acts cannot be controlled, misunderstand may cause between the people and the government. The seized goods should be divided and sold in accordance with the procedure, and the State needs to get the revenues it deserves. There are seizures, but if the items are damaged before the auction, the efforts of those who seized them will be in vain and the national revenues will not be received. Therefore, perishable goods need to be auctioned quickly in accordance with the procedure.

Therefore, responsible officials are urged to hand over the seized licensed or unlicensed vehicles and equipment in accordance with the procedure as soon as possible. Regarding the security issue, the civil servants who are serving in the areas they are assigned to should be aware of the danger of subversive terrorists who do not want the country's peace and stability. They need to act with security awareness. In the fight against illegal trade, Union ministries and region/stage governments need to forge their cooperation, to effectively prevent the illegal extraction of domestic resources, to access information required to build a local news network and connect with foreign countries and departments to exchange information, to implement the bill of lading system and E-Lock system to cover the entire country, to improve online systems, to prevent damage to the seized property, and to ensure those on duty are free from bribery, to ensure those serving their duties work with security awareness and to make cooperation between the staff on duty and all the people in the fight against illegal trade as a national responsibility.

Next, the Leading Committee Secretary Deputy Minister for Commerce U Min Min reported on progress in the implementation of the resolutions of the meeting (5/2023 and committee’s activities. Then, the directors general from the respective departments in attendance read out the messages sent to the meeting (6/2023). Afterwards, Leading Committee Vice Chairmen Union Minister Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, and U Win Shein and member Union Minister U Tun Ohn explained findings of illicit trade, seizures of narcotic drugs, control chemicals, unlicensed vehicles, foodstuffs, medicines and cosmetics in various regions and states including Nay Pyi Taw, and preventive measures, export and import comparisons and commodity flows at the trade centres, E-lock system, fuel imports, illegal online sales of goods and registration processes for legitimate sales.

Then, those in attendance also discussed their respective sectors, and the meeting resolutions (draft) were read out. Later, the Vice-Senior General coordinated matters related to the discussions and ended the meeting after a closing remark.