Countering illegal trade needs a global response

24 Sep 2020 · 3 min read

Illegal traders have no respect for borders or laws. The speed with which illegal networks develop, adapt and expand in today’s global environment, calls for global actions and solutions. And PMI IMPACT is doing just that, bringing together public and private sector representatives from all over the world to fight illegal trade and related crimes

Security dogs illict trade

What do an X-ray scanner, an app to help victims of modern-day slavery, and cutting-edge research on organized crime have in common?

For starters, they’re all projects funded by PMI IMPACT—a global initiative of Philip Morris International (PMI) to support public, private, and non-governmental organizations in the fight against illegal trade, corruption, organized crime, and related crimes.

More importantly, these projects are led by organizations from various backgrounds and different parts of the world; and they are now all part of a growing network aimed at achieving sustainable results against illegal trade and related crimes. This is what PMI IMPACT stands for.

Since 2016, PMI IMPACT has accrued an ecosystem of grantees, developing innovative solutions to eradicate illegal activities affecting the economy and society at large. To date, it has provided USD 48 million to fund 60 projects in 30 countries.

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The organizations awarded a PMI IMPACT grant come from the European Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North and South America. They represent a broad range of sectors, including think tanks, academic institutions, universities, and law enforcement authorities.

  • One PMI IMPACT grantee, for instance, is the Lithuanian tech company INTA, which has pioneered a new X-ray technique for border control—where much of the illicit trade takes place. INTA’s advanced technology solution allows customs officials and border agents to detect smuggled goods on an unprecedented scale.
  • The research initiative Balkan Smugg, from Croatia’s Institute of Economics of Zagreb, has looked into the illegal trade of cigarettes and other tobacco products in seven countries along the Balkan smuggling route, quantified the size of the problem, and shone a light on consumer attitudes. Researchers say that this has given them unparalleled insight into smokers’ attitudes and practices of buying cigarettes on the black market, and into citizens’ opinion of the illegal trade of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Freeland, a PMI IMPACT grantee from the initiative’s second funding round, is an organization with a mission to protect people and wildlife from organized crime and corruption, while revitalizing ecosystems and communities for a more secure world. They are raising awareness and denouncing the criminal organizations engaging in human trafficking and the trade in endangered wildlife species.
  • The Mekong Club is a leading Hong Kong-based association dedicated to uniting corporations to fight modern-day slavery. It is the only organization of its kind, and they’ve recently developed an app that helps vulnerable migrants that may be working under forced conditions.

Tackling illegal trade continues to be one of PMI’s top priorities. We implement strict controls in the supply chain, and work closely with public, private, and non-governmental sectors—in particular border and customs officials—to combat counterfeiters and smugglers.

“It’s clear that the private sector can’t solve the problem without support from others,” said Alvise Giustiniani, Vice President of Illicit Trade Prevention at PMI. “Collaboration is and will remain a key element of the success against illegal trade.”

Illegal trade is a complex global issue that requires an inclusive approach in order for governments, the private sector, and civil society to address the issue in its entirety. Therefore, this must be done across a range of illegally traded goods and by tackling crimes often linked to illegal trade, including corruption, that is both a driver and a consequence of illegal trade.

At PMI, we recognize that supporting efforts targeted only on eradicating the illicit tobacco trade is simply not enough.

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Collaboration is and will remain a key element of the success against illegal trade.
Alvise Giustiniani, Vice President of Illicit Trade Prevention, PMI

The PMI IMPACT projects address multiple aspects of illegal trade—ranging from tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical products to the trafficking of rare animal species. They also explore the nexus between organized crime, terrorism, online and offline trafficking, and the interdependencies between different forms of illegal trade. Beyond illegal trade, the projects will tackle a broad network of related crimes, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and modern-day slavery.

Through its different funding rounds, the objective of PMI IMPACT is to leverage public-private collaboration and achieve long-term, sustainable results against illegal trade and related crimes.

And there is more to come, as the PMI IMPACT Expert Council—the independent experts evaluating and selecting the projects for the award of grants by PMI—has indicated...

Watch the video to find out more

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PMI IMPACT is ready to welcome new projects that foster global partnerships and create synergies to enable sustainable solutions in the battle with illegal trade. “It is more important than ever that we continue coming together and exchanging expertise, ideas and opinions around the shared objective of tackling illegal trade,” Mr. Giustiniani added.

“We will enable others to develop class-leading solutions to tackle illegal trade and the ecosystem of crimes that flourish around it. Cross-sector, public-private collaboration is the key to address the illegal trade problem.”

 

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