PNG businesses slam flourishing black market trade

Business groups in Papua New Guinea say they are alarmed at the amount of counterfeit goods being smuggled into the country from Indonesia.

They say that not only do sales of cheaper black market goods hurt PNG manufacturing, but the Government loses taxes, and some products may be unsafe for consumers.

There is a flourishing and lucrative trade in smuggled goods, including babies’ nappies and cigarettes, at street markets in Papua New Guinea.

PNG’s only cigarette maker and distributor, British American Tobacco (BAT), told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program cigarettes made outside the country have been packaged to look like leading brands.

BAT corporate affairs manager George Panao says the cigarettes do not meet local standards and the Government is losing excise revenue that could go to development projects.

The company also loses out. Mr Panao claims very few cartons of legally manufactured cigarettes are being sold in Vanimo, the nearest town to the border with Indonesian Papua.

Police Inspector Sakawar Kasieng, of Vanimo’s Sandaun province, says police believe the cigarettes are made in Indonesia and are being smuggled into PNG on boats crossing the mostly unguarded sea border.

“They find very lucrative markets in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“They bypass us through open sea, where we are inadequately equipped to patrol.

“People along the border smuggle things in.”

The chairman of the PNG Manufacturers Council, Aarish Sha, says authorities need to control the influx of goods generally “before it gets out of hand”.

Counterfeit goods harm firms “manufacturing in PNG and creating jobs for the people”, he says.

There is also “the potential for harm to the people of Papua New Guinea, as well as the environment”.

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