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Transnational illicit trade preventing UN from achieving sustainable development goals, Tracit warns



illicit trade preventing UN from achieving sustainable development goals

Progress towards achieving the United nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) is being thwarted by illicit trade in some of the world’s most important economic sectors, according to a new report from the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (Tracit).

The study reveals that global illicit trade is proving to be a significant deterrence and is holding back progress on all 17 of the UN’s SDGs.

According to the report, illicit trade in all its forms is undermining global efforts to reduce poverty, promote the creation of quality employment and stimulate economic growth, and is also robbing governments in countries around the world of tax revenue that could be invested in public services.

Illicit trade is also undermining global peace by generating funds for organised criminal networks and terrorist organisations, Tracit said.

In the agri-food industry, food fraud to and the large scale-smuggling of agriculture products is undermining farming and global food trade systems, destabilising rural economies and jeopardising production of sustainable food supplies, the report notes.

Elsewhere, illegal agrochemicals such as obsolete, unauthorised, untested, unregulated and counterfeit pesticides are damaging conventional agriculture and preventing farmers from maximising crop quantity and quality by reducing pests and diseases.

The illicit trade in counterfeit and smuggled alcohol is holding back progress in promoting good health and wellbeing, and more specifically an SDG target that aims to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses resulting from the consumption of hazardous chemicals.

Meanwhile, counterfeiting and copyright piracy is eroding the world’s intellectual property rights system that incentivises innovation, and is stifling economic growth and job creation while inhibiting creative industries from realising their full potential.

The report also notes that the worldwide trade in illicit pharmaceuticals is extending beyond the problem of “fakes” to include substandard, falsified, unregistered and unlicensed drugs as well as their theft, fraud, illicit diversion, smuggling and trafficking.

“From smuggling, counterfeiting and tax evasion, to the illegal sale or possession of goods, services, humans and wildlife, illicit trade is compromising the attainment of the SDGs in significant ways, crowding out legitimate economic activity, depriving governments of revenues for investment in vital public services, dislocating millions of legitimate jobs and causing irreversible damage to ecosystems and human lives,” an introduction to the report reads.

“Despite the recognition of international trade as an important means to achieve the SDGs, insufficient attention has been given to the substantial impact that illicit trade has on holding back progress.”

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China bans meat imports from Canada after discovery of counterfeit pork health certificates



China bans meat imports from Canada

The Chinese government has said it will temporarily block the importation of meat from Canada after customs authorities discovered a batch of pork accompanied by as many as 188 counterfeit veterinary health certificates.

Investigators in China launched a probe after a shipment of Canadian pork products was found to be contaminated with residue of restricted feed additive ractopamine, which is used to promote leanness in farm animals and has been banned in several countries.

While outlawed in China and the European Union, ractopamine is still used widely across North America, despite the fact that the additive has been linked to adverse effects in pigs, and that its effects on human health remain relatively untested.

The decision to block meat imports from Canada was made immediately after the ractopamine residue was found, Chinese customs authorities said, adding that their counterparts in Ottawa believe the forging of the veterinary health certificates may constitute a criminal offence.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Canada said: “These forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel, which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes.

“In order to protect the safety of Chinese consumers, China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China since June 25.

“We hope the Canadian side would attach great importance to this incident, complete the investigation as soon as possible and take effective measures to ensure the safety of food exported to China in a more responsible manner.”

In response, as spokesperson for the Canadian government said the discovery of the counterfeit certificates had been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for investigation, while the country’s Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had been in touch with its Chinese counterpart in reaction to the forgery allegations.

“CFIA is investigating this technical issue and has informed appropriate law enforcement agencies. This incident is specific to export certificates to China. Export certificates to other countries are not affected,” Bibeau said.

The incident comes at a time when diplomatic relations between the two countries remains strained after Canadian police arrested a senior Huawei executive at the beginning of December last year.

The Associated Press reports that China has renewed a demand in the wake of meat imports revelations that Ottawa approve the immediate release Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition to the US in relation to allegations that she violated sanctions on Iran.

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US Coast Guard seizes over 3.5 tonnes of smuggled garlic from traffickers’ boat in Caribbean



smuggled garlic

A US Coast Guard vessel has returned from a patrol of the Caribbean after its crew members intercepted a garlic smugglers’ boat.

During a two-month tour that saw officers inspect international vessels throughout the Caribbean basin, Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant stopped a go-fast vessel that was found to be illegally smuggling more than 3.5 tonnes of garlic from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

In a statement, the Coast Guard explained how garlic smuggling is a rising problem across the globe and has had a negative impact on the agricultural industry in the Dominican Republic over the past few years.

After being informed of the discovery of the smuggled garlic, the Dominican government sent a navy ship to meet the Vigilant and take the traffickers into custody to prepare them for prosecution.

The smuggled garlic was estimated to be worth around $30,000 and was the largest seizure of its kind ever made by the Coast Guard.

As well as impounding the smuggled garlic, the Vigilant’s 59-day mission also saw officers return 50 migrants from Haiti back to their home country after disrupting a dangerous and illegal attempted sea crossing.

In May last year, it was reported that Thai customs officials, the country’s Commerce Ministry and its military had come together to tackle a large rise in the trafficking of garlic from neighbouring countries, a phenomenon that was causing the domestic price of the commodity to slump.

It was suspected at the time that organised criminal gangs were smuggling large quantities of garlic into the country from nations such as China, where it costs significantly less to produce than it does in Thailand.

Last November, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that police in Thailand had arrested two alleged smugglers who were attempting to traffic red onion and garlic across the Mekong River from Laos.

In total, the illicit shipment of vegetables weighed more than 2.8 tonnes and was estimated at the time to be worth some £3,000.

Two Thai truck drivers were detained on suspicion of smuggling the onions and garlic.

The smuggling of garlic has become a major issue for economies in Southeast Asia and Europe, which have been targeted by gangs trafficking huge shipments of the plant from China, which was estimated to be responsible for 72.8% of global garlic exports in 2016.

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