Malawi Attacks Tobacco Smugglers with Increased Surveillance

malawi-tobaccoAfrica’s country of Malawi is currently the world’s biggest producer of burley tobacco and therefore faces a major problem with tobacco smuggling across  its borders. Every year, as much as 1/3 of the country’s crop is smuggled, which causes huge losses in potential tax revenue for the country.

Malawi’s chief executive officer of the Tobacco Control Commission, Bruce Munthali stated, “We are losing a lot of revenue in the form of taxes and direct revenue from sales due to smuggling of our tobacco. It’s a very big problem considering that tobacco is our economic mainstay. Every year, between 10 percent and 30 percent of our leaf is smuggled to Zambia and Mozambique.”

Malawi relies on the revenue from their tobacco trade to provide upwards of 60% of the country’s revenue and export earnings. The burley tobacco is primarily used in cigarettes and for higher end flue-cured tobacco products. Production of the crop was projected at 190 million kilograms (418.9 million pounds) in 2009, according to the Web site of Universal Corp., the world’s biggest tobacco-leaf merchant.

Although the government does plan to increase surveillance, there are no announced plans yet on how exactly they will do that, whether it’s with surveillance cameras or increase personnel.

(Via Bloomberg)

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