Anti-smuggling teams to watch Yangon airport

The Ministry of Commerce’s mobile enforcement teams will include Yangon International Airport in their air and sea port investigations set to start on July 2, according to ministry officials.

With much of Myanmar’s cross-border commerce thought to be carried out illegally, the teams will target tax evasion and promote legalised trade, which has grown to US$24.96 billion for the 2013-14 fiscal year, from $18.42 billion the previous year.

Up to 80 percent of sea trading routes were unmonitored, deputy commerce minister U Pwint San said at a Pyithu Hluttaw meeting in October last year.

Mobile enforcement teams will target illegal trade at Asia World, Hteedan, Myanmar Industrial, Bo Aung Kyaw and Sule Ports as well as Yangon airport’s cargo service and customs warehouses, after previously focusing on border areas.

U Tin Ye Win, director for the ministry’s Illegal Trade Prevention and Supervision Control Committee, previously told The Myanmar Times that enforcing the rules in urban areas can be more difficult as it brings them into contact with more important companies.

The committee began in November 2012. It claims to have handled 3391 cases, seizing goods worth K17.5 billion ($17.9 million) up to June 26. They are well-known for orchestrating a crackdown on illegal alcohol imports late last year that saw supplies for some foreign alcohols drop precipitously in Yangon.

The Ministry of Commerce has also raised its trade volume target for this fiscal year to $30 billion, from its $25.7 billion previous target, said ministry official U Nyunt Aung, adding that part of the rise came from success of the mobile teams.

He claimed the 250 members of the teams are effective at combating illegal border trade, and are now focusing on ports and airports, adding that the consequences faced by illegal traders could be severe.

The committee has four main procedures, including destroying questionable food, transferring products such as timber and jewels to other departments, levying fines, and also seizing property as the last resort.

Myawaddy was the largest overland gate for trade last fiscal year, reaching $271.5 million total imports and exports, according to U Nyunt Aung.


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