Vice Chairman of State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Chairman of Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee Vice-Senior General Soe Win addresses Work Coordination Meeting (2/2024)


Vice Chairman of State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Chairman of Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee Vice-Senior General Soe Win addresses Work Coordination Meeting (2/2024)

Nay Pyi Taw May 15

Work Coordination of the Illegal Trade Eradication Steering Committee was held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Commerce in Nay Pyi Taw this afternoon and Vice Chairman of the State Administration Council Deputy Prime Minister Chairman of the steering committee Vice-Senior General Soe Win delivered an address at the meeting.

Also present at the meeting were union ministers Lt-Gen Yar Pyae and U Tun Ohn, deputy ministers, the chairman of the Revenue Appellate Tribunal, members of the Nay Pyi Taw Council, permanent secretaries, directors-generals, chairmen and officials of organizations and chairmen of regional and state special committees for eradication of illegal trade participated in the meeting via video conferencing.

First, the Vice-Senior General delivered an address, saying the Prime Minister instructed respective regions and states at the Meeting (1/2024) of the National Planning Commission on 21 March, 2024 to reduce imports and to boost exports, to exert efforts to accelerate the production goods, to place emphasis on self-sufficiency of edible oil to reduce foreign exchange spending by exerting efforts for production of edible sufficiently at home, as cooking oil worth between US$-500 million and US$-600 million has to be imported annually and to prevent illegal extraction of natural resources and illegal trade.

Similarly, it was also instructed at Union Government Meeting (4/2024) on 22 April that the country boasts favorable conditions and human resources.

However, there were difficulties due to attempts to delay trade flows caused by economic sanctions and trade blockages.

If such difficulties can be overcome, trade will be flourish, economy will be strong and the value of the currency will increase.

It has been 14 times since the first coordination meeting was held by forming the steering committee to eradicate illegal trade in the country. Up to the 13th meeting, a total of 456 decisions have been made. After restructuring the steering committee, 12,430 cases were filed and illegal goods worth about Ks- 250.176 billion were seized.

In February, March and April in 2024, the Customs Department made largest seizures of illegal goods and in terms of seizures of illegal goods in regions and states including the Nay Pyi Taw Council Area, Mandalay Region, Kachin State and Taninthayi Region stood first, second and third respectively in seizures illegal goods.

In terms of goods categories, vehicles and machinery including unlicensed vehicles and vessels, raw materials and investment materials stood first, second and third respectively.

According to an estimate of the UN, countries around the world suffered revenue losses worth US$-two trillion annually.

It can be seen that illegal trade of agricultural goods stood between US$-30 to 40 billion and illegally imported medicines caused losses of lives of children and smuggled chemical drugs cause environmental damage, threatening many countries in the world.

In the ASEAN region, increase in illegal trade has caused not only financial losses to governments and businesses but also significantly affected biodiversity, human lives and rights. It is reported that the main cause of the problem has been described as alcohol, beverages, toys and games, vehicle parts, medicines, agricultural chemicals, pesticide and violation of copyrights.

Moreover, issues related to intellectual property rights are not only complex but also lead to transnational crimes, according to findings of the OECD and the WIPO, the trade of fake goods amounted to US$-509 billion, accounting for 3 percent of the global trade.

It was also found that fake goods entering the ASEAN region amount to US$-35 billion annually and fake medicines made up US$-2.6 billion annually.

Economic losses from them amount to US$-six billion annually.

Trade deficits with major trading countries with Myanmar such as China, Thailand, India and Japan ranged from US$-six billion at the minimum to 12 billion at the maximum, highlighting illegal trade, according to the data of the International Trade Centre (ITC).

As the country is abundant in natural resources and is an agricultural country, products from natural resources and agriculture are mainly exported to other countries. In carrying out tasks for trade development of the country in accordance with the economic objectives of the country, illegal trade hinders trade development significantly. As the country suffers losses in revenue and negative effects due to illegal trade, the government, the private sectors as well as the people are required to make concerted efforts to eliminate illegal trade.

In developing a market economic system, the government, businesspeople, and consumers play key roles. To increase national income, the government must ensure the collection of customs duties and taxes, provide guarantees for safe and secure goods, and reduce or eliminate illegal goods. Ultimately, the government will lead the fight against illegal trade until it is completely eradicated.

Medicines, cosmetics, food, and most consumer goods sold locally online are being imported and sold through illegal channels. Therefore, special teams and One Stop Service (OSS) departments, along with the FDA and CID, regularly work to prevent these activities and make arrests.

I urge for continued efforts to effectively prevent these illegal imports, cover up such news, and ensure that arrests are made.

To ensure the import of quality goods that meet domestic needs, I urge responsible officials to promptly collaborate with the relevant ministries to establish and enforce product standards.

Due to illegal trade, the volume of official exports and the inflow of foreign currency have decreased. Payments made through illegal channels create a black market, making it difficult to calculate the actual revenue and expenditure of the state, which hinders the establishment of accurate financial and monetary policies.

Furthermore, illegal trade undermines the rule of law and contributes to the corruption of civil servants, ultimately leading to widespread corruption and weakening the governance mechanism.

When conducting anti-illegal trade operations at trade routes and checkpoints, special teams and One Stop Service (OSS) department in-charges must effectively prevent both illegal imports and exports in accordance with the law. Additionally, the relevant departments should ensure that the processes for stopping, arresting, and inspecting illegal goods are properly followed. I encourage them to act effectively and correctly in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Illegal trade creates a crisis for both manufacturers and consumers. Businesses are unable to expand and may cease operations due to market turmoil, which increases domestic unemployment. As people seek work abroad, the domestic manufacturing sector faces a reduced labor force, leading to decreased production.

As a final point, consumers and local entrepreneurs who produce goods themselves are directly or indirectly affected by illegal trade. To prevent such events, the Steering Committee to Combat Illegal Trade and the special anti-trafficking teams in the states and regions are urged to cooperate with the government and the public to work together until illegal trade is completely eradicated.

Next, Steering Committee Secretary Deputy Minister for Commerce U Min Min reported on progress in the implementation of the meeting (1/2024) resolutions and the committee’s functioning.

Then, the directors-general from the respective departments read out the messages sent to the meeting (2/2024).

Deputy Police Chief of the Ministry of Home Affairs Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu explained control chemicals, criteria for importers and supervisory processes.

Steering Committee Vice Chairman Union Minister Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, member Union Minister U Tun Ohn and the deputy minister for planning and finance discussed the findings of illegal trade, legal actions against drugs, controlled chemicals, illegal vehicles, fuel, food, drug and cosmetic seizures in accordance with the law, Issues related to prevention, export-Import comparisons and commodity flow conditions at trading posts, issues related to E-Lock system and illegal online sales of goods.

After that, those in attendance discussed their respective sectors and the draft resolution of the meeting (2/2024) was read out.

Later, the Vice-Senior General coordinated matters in relation to the reports and made a concluding remark.