Newly elected TTMA President Tricia Coosal

The T&T Manufacturers’ Association has recommended to Government that there must be increased focus and inspection at the country’s various borders, especially at the ports and within the Free Trade Zone to clamp down on illicit trade and other numerous forms of criminal activities.

In a statement the organisation is also advising that there be legislative reform to ensure the “penalties for smuggling are in line with the nature of the crime”.

The TTMA also said there must be a reference price system to treat with the potential for under-declarations as it commended the Customs and Excise Division on the recent seizures of contraband.

TTMA’s president Tricia Coosal said in addition to seizing arms and ammunition, members of the manufacturing sector hopes there will also be a significant reduction in illicit items such as alcohol, cleaning items, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products.

The organisation said illicit trade is a threat to all facets of this country, including the lives of the citizens and the economy.

TTMA has recommended that Government considers increased training for enforcement officials (eg customs and police officers) where necessary as this is especially important for the detection of illicit trade by local officials, since smugglers use various means to import their goods.

The organisation is also calling for increased collaboration among local, regional and international agencies – local agencies such as Board of Inland Revenue, Chemistry, Food and Drugs Division; Customs and Excise Division, Immigration Division, Intellectual Property Office, Inland Revenue Division and the Tobacco Control Unit which it said must work together.

“As it is likely that persons are involved in illicit trade of various items simultaneously (eg, human traffickers may also be smuggling alcoholic beverages or counterfeit clothing). Regional agencies such as the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), and international agencies such as INTA and Interpol can also provide assistance,” the TTMA said.