Myanmar has been ranked last of 17 Asia-Pacific economies evaluated for their efforts to combat illicit trade on an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Myanmar received a score of 10.8 on the 100-point Illicit Trade Environment Index, after Laos (12.9), Cambodia (23.9) and Indonesia (46.1).
Australia topped the list with 85.2, followed by New Zealand (81.8), Hong Kong (81.4) and Japan (75.9).
The index, commissioned by the European Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (ranked eighth on 69.8) and released on October 12, evaluated the economies in four main categories: intellectual property, transparency and trade, customs, and supply and demand.
In an accompanying report, EIU acknowledged the challenges of compiling the index.
“The nature of illicit trade make it hard to determine. Enabled by varying combinations of corruption, incompetence and indifference, it defies all but the broadest estimates,” the report said.
“Yet, there’s sufficient evidence that the volume of counterfeit and mis-declared goods, drugs, weapons and other types of illicit trade moving across borders has been increasing and will continue to do so,” it said.
“Besides posing a threat to public health, the environment, innovation and tax revenues, the [illicit] trade provides funds for transnational crime networks and terrorist organisations.”
The report quoted Mr Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as saying Myanmar offered hope in the efforts to tackle illicit trade.
“Myanmar presents the most challenges, but there’s a new government and, we hope, a new energy for change that comes with it,” Douglas said.
“One of the first priorities needs to be civilianisation of the police force and, at the same time, substantial capacity-building, since the country as a whole is not equipped to deal with transnational crime,” he said.
Other economies ranked on the index included South Korea (71.8), Taiwan (69.8), China (61.6), India (51.4) and Thailand (53.1).