TRACIT Media Release
New York, 29 April 2020 – The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) issued an Illicit Alcohol Market Alert today, warning governments that COVID-19 related prohibitions on alcoholic beverages drive markets for illicit alcohol, present dangerous risks to consumers, encourage criminality and sideline legal jobs and growth.
“Certainly, we understand the critical importance of social distancing,” said TRACIT Director-General Jeffrey Hardy. “But it’s a step too far when governments restrict alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-license outlets, let alone home delivery, order-and-collect / grab-and-go, and e-commerce websites.”
The organization, known for mitigating illicit trade across industry sectors worldwide regularly opposes market forces or policy measures that increase the supply and demand for illicit products.
“We’re working against illicit trade 24/7, and prohibition measures from government leaders are counterproductive to our efforts to hold back markets for illicit alcohol,” said Mr. Hardy. “Frankly, prohibitions are the last thing we need during the crisis, when health care systems are under strain, businesses are struggling to stay above water and unemployment is swelling.”
The TRACIT Alert and an associated Situational Report reveal that several countries have introduced prohibition laws, including Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Australia, India, Botswana, South Africa and Thailand. During this time of crisis, overly restrictive access to legitimate beverages can drive consumers to illicit and counterfeit alcohol supplied by criminals and unscrupulous illicit traders.
TRACIT also reports the following unintended consequences of prohibition measures that are too strict:
“We’re pleased that these countries have quickly understood the negative impacts and unintended consequences of prohibition laws, and have reversed them,” said Senior Policy Analyst Esteban Giudici while interviewed by Agencia EFE. “And we’re asking the others to remove bans on the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. There’s plenty of evidence that these measures are counterproductive. Associated deaths have already been reported in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and several Indian States are calling for a reversal because excise tax losses are just too high.”
In its Situational Briefing, TRACIT called for immediate action by governments, Industry/private sectors and Internet platforms:
TRACIT speaks to CNN en Español, warns governments that prohibition policies drive markets for illicit alcohol
Full story on CNN en Español
“La crisis de la COVID-19 ha incrementado el contrabando de alcohol y medicinas”, NTN24.com
Interview with TRACIT's Esteban Giudici (@31 min)