On 30 April, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime published a paper saying that, while much has been written about cigarette smuggling in several countries of the Western Balkans, little is known about the role of Kosovo in this trade. This brief points to gaps in information, holes in border management, divides in regional cooperation, as well as disparities in tax and excise regimes that need to be addressed in order to reduce the illicit tobacco trade in Kosovo. More ‘filters’ are needed, it argues, to reduce the grey and black markets for cigarettes that continue to prevail in this country. Though a small market itself, the paper says that it is a key transit country, however, for counterfeit cigarettes as well as legal cigarettes being produced or shipped illicitly via neighbouring countries. Its location, porous borders and weak criminal-justice system mean that the risks to traffickers smuggling tobacco products through the country are relatively low. Its lack of international recognition as an independent state impedes the country from acceding to international treaties and gaining necessary cooperation.
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