Romanian black market of cigarettes down by 1.1 pct in May to 16.1 pct

Georgeta Gheorghe 25/06/2018 | 14:28

Romania’s black market of cigarettes dropped in May by 1.1 pct to 16.1 percent of total consumption, according to a study by Novel Research. Still, the percentage is still above the 2017 average of illegal trade, which stands at 16 percent.

“The northeast region continues to be the most affected by the black market, with a share of 40.4 percent, even though it declined by 2.8 percent in May, compared with March. A large share of illegal cigarette trade is also recorded in the West (29.6 percent). The most significant increase is in the northwest, plus 2.9 percent to 14.8 percent. On the other hand, there is a significant decrease in the South-East region, of 7.9 percent, to 8.6 percent. From the point of view of origin, cheap white is still the main source, growing again in May, by 8.5 percent, to 64.4 percent. The share of illegally produced tobacco products in Moldova is slightly down by 1.2 percent to 20 percent. Ukraine, as a source of illegal cigarettes, is also down (down by 6.3 percentage points to 9.4  percent), and Serbia is relatively constant,” said Marian Marcu, general manager of Novel Research.

The British American Tobacco producer shows that in the first half of 2018, cigarette smuggling networks managed to increase sales over the same period last year, with the Romanian black market rising from 15.5 percent to 16.3 percent.

“Although a difference of any percentage point may seem insignificant, it actually means a cumulative loss in the six months, up to EUR 16 million to the state budget. That is why we hope that the Minister of Public Finances, Eugen Tedorovici, will have the necessary support for the implementation of the measures he has announced, of which the most important is the modernization, equipping and rapid rehabilitation of the customs points by the end of 2018” said Ileana Dumitru, Director of Legal and Public Relations at British American Tobacco Central and South Europe.

Also, the representatives of cigarette manufacturer JTI say that among the Novel’s trends, the most worrying is the accelerated growth of “cheap-white”, which accounts for 64.4 percent of all illegal cigarettes, exceeding the record of November 2017 by 63.8 percent.

“This is especially true in the context of the implementation of the European Regulation on the Traceability Tracking System (Track & Trace) adopted by the European Commission with the stated aim of reducing smuggling. The system will only monitor EU-produced products, but most cigarettes on the black market come from outside the EU. In our case, “cheap whites” are manufactured in China, Emirates, Macedonia, etc., and the others come from Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia. In addition, in the case of Track & Trace, as with the transposition of the Tobacco Directive, authorities are delaying. The regulation is mandatory for all Member States, it does not have to be transposed,” said Gilda Lazar, Corporate Affairs & Communications Director of JTI Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria.

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