Romanian authorities seized in H1 2017 nearly 75 million smuggled cigarettes worth about 45 million lei, down 1.3 percentage points from the end of 2016, shows data released on Thursday by British American Tobacco Romania.
“Although in the first half of 2017 smuggling dropped by 1.3 percentage points as compared to the end of last year, reaching 15.5 percent of the total market, we are still far from the European average of 9 percent. In response to the authorities’ increasingly intensive efforts, the smugglers come up with increasingly surprising ways to push through the borders, encouraged by the high profits derived from illegal trading,” says Ileana Dumitru, Legal and Public Relations Director of British American Tobacco Romania.
The four SCUT smuggling clampdown operations carried out so far by the National Tax Administration Agency (ANAF) through the customs authority, the beefed up actions of the Border Police, the stepped up checks by the Romanian police and the completion of important organized crime files by the organized crime agency – DIICOT have led to the decline of the illicit market in the first half of 2017.
Action by the authorities prevented daily more than 20,000 of smuggled cigarette packages from reaching Romania’s black market, the equivalent to the total consumption of a city with a population of about 100,000.
“Despite that, the impact of smuggling on state budget collections remains significant, as every percentage point on the black market equals about 40 million euro that go uncharged by the state in taxes and excise duties,” the cigarette producer notes.
In a Romanian first, real-time data on cigarette smuggling is available on the website www.stopcontrabanda.ro, a campaign run by British American Tobacco.
According to a KPMG survey, in 2016 Romania ranked 6th in the European Union by the volume of consumed smuggled cigarettes and 83 percent of the polled Romanians reported having been approached in the street with offers of smuggled cigarettes, which is 40 percent more than the European average.
Romania is among the most affected EU countries, ranking second in Eastern Europe after Poland. Romania’s black market is well above the European average of 9 percent, with such shadowy activities particularly intense in the country northeast that borders on Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova – the main source countries for cigarettes smuggled to Romania.
Available official data reveals that cigarette smuggling annually diverts over 650 million euro (about three billion lei) from the Romanian state, as a monthly 50 million euro fail to reach the state coffers because of the black market.
In the last 7 years (2010 – 2016) the Romanian state lost 4.8 billion euro (about 21.6 billion lei) because of this plague. The black market grew by 27 percent between 2011 and 2016 and each illegal cigarette container brings one million euro in profit for the smuggling rings.