THERE have been reports of an illicit tobacco trade in Fiji and this could cause immeasurable harm if it is not prevented, says the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority of Fiji (FRCA).
FRCA customs general manager Jone Louie told a two-day anti-illicit tobacco trade workshop that recent estimates reveal approximately 11 per cent of the world cigarette market is illicit.
"The challenges associated with illicit tobacco trade are becoming more complex," he said.
"In addition to the vast amounts of government revenue loss, illicit tobacco trade also affects the economic and social fabric of our society."
Mr Louie said the illicit trade obstructed economic development, undermined government policy objectives and the rule of law and funded organised crime, terrorism and encouraged criminal activity.
Furthermore, he said significant investments by the legitimate tobacco industry towards manufacturing, innovation, employment, and branding, intellectual property rights were undermined.
Mr Louie said that substantial profits derived from trafficking and successful law enforcement interdiction efforts in other countries have led perpetrators to develop sophisticated smuggling techniques.
"As custodians of our national border and the region, for that matter, we ensure the security of our borders and a safe environment conducive to economic development, growth and direct investment.
"We need to accelerate our efforts to tackle this problem proactively. We must generate new ideas, questioning, forward planning, share key learning and collaborate with other enforcement agencies, other national agencies and with the legitimate trade to enable us to optimise the use of the scarce resources we have to continue our efforts in this area."