Economy, Business And Markets

New Plan to Tackle Smuggling

Domestic Economy Desk
New Plan  to Tackle  Smuggling
New Plan  to Tackle  Smuggling

The Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade has finalized a comprehensive plan to combat smuggling, said Industries Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh at a press conference held in Tehran on Monday on the occasion of the end of Government Week (August 24-30).

According to the minister, the plan simultaneously pursues the goals of identifying and tracking contraband products. It draws on the global GS1 coding system, which will be used for commodities that have domestic counterparts such as pharmaceuticals, Nematzadeh said. “The coding system will enable the ministry to track the contraband products anywhere in the distribution network.”

GS1 is an international organization that develops and maintains standards for supply and demand chains across multiple sectors. The standards facilitate identification of items, locations, shipments, assets, etc. and associated data.

The Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade has lately come under fire by the Central Taskforce to Combat the Smuggling of Goods and Foreign Currency for lacking a viable plan to combat smuggling. This is while the ministry has repeatedly stated that fighting illegal imports is among its top priorities.

Domestic industries such as apparel and tobacco manufacturing have been severely hit by illegal imports in recent years.

While there is no reliable data on the exact amount of goods smuggled into the country, statistics by the taskforce puts the figure at over $20 billion a year. This is while unofficial sources estimate the actual figure to be at least twice as much.

In an inspection of a contraband goods warehouse in Tehran back in July, the provincial governor said 60% of all illegal imports have Tehran as their main destination.

Nematzadeh noted that based on new regulations, importers and retailers must register their business information with the ministry’s database in the first place or face prosecution. They are also required to provide the ministry with monthly reports, which will help the government keep track of sales and imports.

The ministry has also required unions to ensure that all the products sold by retailers are imported through legal channels.

Part of the rampant smuggling, according to Nematzadeh, could be traced back to neighboring countries’ lack of supervision on borders due to an array of domestic issues those countries are struggling with. The minister referred to the vast borders Iran shares with Afghanistan and Iraq, which make the fight against smuggling more difficult for the government.