A formal inquiry into the state of illicit trade in the UK was formally launched by a cross-party group of politicians this week.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Illicit Trade has opened a consultation to collect the views and insights of businesses, law enforcement and consumer groups
The group is seeking to identify: the main drivers of illicit trade, the impact it has on business, law enforcement and consumers, the level of importance the government places on tackling illicit trade, and what steps the government is taking to tackle it and how this could be improved.
Matthew Offord, chair of the group, said: “Illicit trade exists in every constituency, and as parliamentarians we have a duty to investigate what impact this has on consumers, businesses and our public authorities.
“I’m delighted by huge amount of support the group has received since it was established last year. This shows that illicit trade is a major issue that needs addressing.
“This inquiry is a key opportunity for organisations on the frontline to tell us their views and ideas for how we can be more effective at tackling illicit trade. Our report will make a series of recommendations that we hope will influence policies for dealing with illicit trade for the years ahead.”
The group will produce a formal report with recommendations that seek to improve the UK’s approach to tackling illicit trade.
The inquiry has thus far been favourably received by organisations from a range of different sectors.
Julian Hunt, vice-president of public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “We are concerned that one of the unintended consequences [of the introduction of the sugar levy on soft drinks]is that it may encourage the illicit import and sale of many popular soft drinks brands attracting the government’s tax from April onwards.
“We hope this inquiry will raise awareness of the importance of compliance with the new legislation and identify ways in which the government can take steps to stop disreputable traders selling soft drinks on which the tax hasn’t been paid.”