Name : Jeffrey P. Hardy
Position : Director of TRACIT
Please explain our readers about TRACIT.
Well, the word “TRACIT” stands for the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade. So, what we done are we established a wide of businesses that can communicate to government, inter government and community just how severe the problem is and its impacts on the economic growth in a country, legal economy, jobs, tax, revenue and investment for public goods. We do this work across 10 different illicit trade sectors so that we include counting, fixing, illegal mining, illegal logging and fishing issues, pesticides, tobacco, alcohol which are important problems in Myanmar.
When was your visit to Myanmar and how has it changed since then?
I have just arrived in Myanmar at the first week of September this year and it is really a fantastic country. When I have been here, I was suddenly watching the economic growth and changes over the last five, six, seven or eight years. I mean that a lot of investments rose. I have recently read one thing is that the vice president visited here for the strong projected economic growth that looks like a very bright future for Myanmar.
What are the differences between Myanmar and other countries, in terms of illicit trade?
Well, in terms of illicit trade, there are a lot of countries that are confronting similar issues that Myanmar is confronting. That is the one thing that we are trying to address in this conference we held Anti-Illicit Trade Forum with Eurocham Myanmar. So, there are a lot of similar things with Myanmar’s neighbors like Laos, Thailand and China.
What are you planning to get out of this forum?
This forum serves two important objectives. One is we need to raise the awareness on illicit trade in Myanmar. We are looking at illegal logging and mining practices that are made a lot of counting, fixing here. There are worldwide and human trafficking issues that need to be addressed. The only way we can solve the problem is that first thing we need to do is raising awareness. Not only businesses but also general population needs to know about this through magazine like yours and policy makers and also government. They don’t know how best they can solve that problem. The second objectives of the conference is that we will be talking about solution, what can the government of Myanmar do, how can they work better with the ASEAN countries, especially in neighbor countries to solve the problem and how can they improve the laws. What is the biggest challenge of your organization in the foreseeable future? The biggest challenge making sure is that the government and intergovernmental organizations realize how biggest the problem is. The government realizes how illicit trade can undermine the countries, especially in the developing countries like Myanmar.
W h a t a r e t h e r e g u l a t o r y environment and economic circumstances that can cause illicit trade in Myanmar?
There are a lot of formal abilities in a country that can need to address illicit trade. In Myanmar, the challenge is governance. A lot of government agencies in Myanmar are evolving, growing and still trying to be strong. Therefore, laws are outdated. For example, on the importation spirit, outdated laws that need to be changed are verifying, stimulating, smuggling under the country. In Myanmar case, a long and cross borders with other countries make the illicit trade worst. Moreover, like many other countries, there are many problems of corruption. Myanmar need to address that issue head on.
W h a t c h a n g e s d o e s y o u r organization expect from the Myanmar government?
There are few things that Myanmar Government can do right away. What we want to is interagency coordination. Myanmar has a lot of resources. Therefore, government custom agency, law enforcement agency, the taxing agency need to be working closely together. That is the first thing we recommend. The second thing is that Myanmar needs to become more active countries in international community such as being more active engaged in ASEAN and in programs like UN office in drugs crime and Myanmar Government is talking too with governments for helps, for example, for free trade agreement. Myanmar can also work more closely with industries and businesses more than before. On the other hand, Eurocham Myanmar establishes in time illicit trade advocacy groups with a lot of companies that are facing with problems that they can help. We have to address corruption here. We have to straighten the customs in border control.
What actions do you usually practice to mitigate illicit trade?
We did a couple of things. One is a study of the economic intelligence units which define the strengths and weaknesses of government in 84 countries. The purpose of this study is that we learn what the best things we will do. We created a list top ten things we need to be done in those countries. For Myanmar, there are many details things but I cannot tell them. Myanmar should establish interagency tax court and work more closely with Eurocham Myanmar. Myanmar needs also increase the penalties because a lot of illicit traders do illicit illegal activities because they can get away. So, Myanmar need straight forward penalties perhaps take away business’s licenses from a company that practice the illicit trade. Myanmar needs to create public awareness. It is also important to normalize the importation. The laws that are outdated needs to be improved. We need to address the corruption.
Whether Myanmar improve or not from the 82nd ranks in 84 countries in the future?
Absolutely, this Anti-Illicit Trade Conference is the first step and first start in the future. The bad news is 82 and it is not good. But the good news is that Myanmar is on the route of progress. In Anti-Illicit Trade Conference we started with the conversation what needs to be done. Hopefully, it is the good start of journey and better future for Myanmar.
What are the future expansion plans of your organization for Myanmar?
Our plan is come here to share what we learn, policy recommendation making in another country and just start the processes with the dialogs with the government and the company in Myanmar. We will make this progress together.