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Black market trade in Greece with an annual turnover of 20 billion euro

24 July 2012 / 17:07:09  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Bags, purses, belts, hats, clothes, shoes, sunglasses and even watches. The list of contraband goods, sold in central Athens streets around subway stations and on the beaches, is very long.

Control over trade with contraband goods was discussed at today's meeting at the Ministry of Merchant Marine attended by the chief commander of the Coast Guard Service, the head of the Economic Crime Unit, the director of the Greek police, the director of the Port of Piraeus and representatives of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce. At the meeting, a crackdown on the smuggling of goods at ports and islands was discussed.

GRReporter contacted the President of the traders for a comment. Vassilis Korkidis said that all Greek ports are entry points for contraband goods, many of which are replicas of branded products. He said that the problem with them is particularly serious in the Dodecanese, due to their proximity to Turkey, from where the goods are imported in large quantities.

"The volume of trade with contraband goods is 20 billion euros per year. And it deprives the state of revenues worth 8 billion euros", he translated the numerical scale of smuggling. In his opinion, the Coast Guard Service can play a key role to limit this "sector" of the grey economy". Coast Guard officers can really catch at the island ports all the offenders, who manage to avoid arrest in the port of Piraeus."

As Vassilis Korkidis noted, the problem is serious inside the country as well. "Most of the stores with contraband goods are located in Athens. In our opinion, in order to cope with illegal trade, public authorities will have to take measures in three directions: Firstly, strict control of entry points across the country is needed. Scanners must be placed to check the contents of containers, such as the ones installed in all Balkan countries, except for Greece. Secondly, large warehouses for wholesale trade, which are the interim point of those involved in these groups, must be thoroughly checked. The third measure is the persecution of street trade with contraband products. It is also the most complex, because it is much easier to prevent something at its onset, than to chase it after it has spread".

Besides the strengthening of the Coast Guard control, at today's meeting the example of the islands of Syros and Rhodes was discussed as well. "Several years ago, trade with contraband goods had spread on a very large scale there. Then, the coordinated actions and the cooperation of local business associations and chambers of commerce with the Coast Guard Service, yielded very good results. In fact, our efforts are aimed at improving this kind of actions and their distribution throughout the island areas of the country, in order to minimize this negative practice", added Vassilis Korkidis.

Trade with contraband goods is a problem that seriously affects all countries of the Old continent. According to the latest European Commission report "regarding the protection of intellectual property rights by customs in the European Union" Greece ranks first in the list with the largest number of confiscated contraband goods. In 2011 alone, the control authorities confiscated 22 million replicas of branded goods. Second, with 18 million, follows the Netherlands, and third ranks Bulgaria, where the authorities confiscated 11 million such goods.

64.4 per cent of confiscated contraband goods have been imported from China, 14.6 per cent from the UAE, 4.5 per cent from Egypt and 4.1 per cent from Cyprus.

According to the latest data from the Greek Ministry of Development, in 2011, inspections in more than 6000 companies were conducted, and 1.2 million euro in fines was imposed.

Tags: Economics Markets black market trade ports contraband goods
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