Smuggling, threat to national sovereignty


In an article published in the Jornal Correio Braziliense, dated 15/08, the president of ETCO, Edson Vismona, talks about the lack of Brazilian competitiveness, caused by the legal uncertainty and the wrong commercial and regulatory rules.



by Edson Vismona


Among the main problems of the lack of Brazilian competitiveness are legal uncertainty and the existing commercial and regulatory differences, including between countries.

In the classic and correct view of business analysis, they are factors that inhibit investment and, therefore, the generation of jobs and income. On the other hand, less visible, as it is more complex and difficult to control, asymmetric conditions of competition are formed, the entry of products via Ile-gals is favored, in the first moment, reaching the peak of the existence of companies that falsify even the illegal version of products, or even that use tax mechanisms to perpetuate their bad faith action, in a persistent way.

The case of cigarettes is emblematic of this problem. Efficiently, product consumption reduction programs have reached quite satisfactory levels. However, the measurement of the dose of the medicine not only affected the national industry but also facilitated the growth of crime, which today accounts for 45% of the Brazilian cigarette market. The question is then, who takes care of this market and its harmful effects on the population? The certainty we have is that the worsening of the current measures will generate clear and objective favoring the neighboring country, a decrease in Brazilian industrial activity and the growth of crime, benefited by smuggling, orchestrated by criminal organizations that expand their power.

In Paraguay, for example, cigarettes are taxed at just 16%, while in Brazil companies in the sector pay, on average, 70% of taxes on products legally manufactured. In addition, manufacturers in the neighboring country are not required by their government to comply with standards similar to those imposed by Brazilian authorities, such as the placement of warning phrases and images on packaging, which, by law, must occupy 75% of the space of the packs.

The quality of Paraguayan cigarettes is also much lower than that of Brazil, according to research carried out by the State University of Ponta Grossa, which showed that these products contain, in addition to high concentrations of heavy metals, animal waste such as cockroach legs and rat hair.

The issue of cigarette smuggling, in fact, is turning into a national security issue. It is nothing new for anyone that this activity is dominated by organizations such as PG. But in a testimony to the US Senate in May 2017,0 political scientist Ema-nuele Ottolenghi, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), revealed the close link between the illegal cigarette trade and international terrorism .

According to Ottolenghi, the growing presence of companies affiliated with Hezbollah in the tobacco retail business increases the possibility that the illicit tobacco trade will become an additional source of income for the terrorist organization ”.

He further explained to US senators that drug and cigarette smuggling routes along the Paraguay-Brazil border are becoming indistinguishable. The current situation in public security in Rio de Janeiro is one. reminder of how organized crime works. How many rifles, pistols and machine guns have been produced in the capital of Rio de Janeiro in recent years? How many drug production centers have been blown up by the authorities? Illegal trade in products is one of the activities that causes the most damage to the population and the country. The difficulties in border inspection and control reinforce the need for greater integration between the various government forces involved in combating the problem. This is a premise for the country to return to growth, to generate jobs and to promote the development that we need so much. We can no longer live with illegality as if it were a normal part of our lives. It is necessary for the whole society to come together around a common objective: the restoration of the country we want, respecting ethics and the law, today and for the generations yet to come.