The Illegal Trade in Chemicals

Trade routes

Once smugglers establish a trade route for one type of goods, they can easily switch to another type or expand their activities (UNEP 2018). This scenario suggests that the main trade routes of illicit pesticides may be similar to other illicit trafficking, with variations related to general economic conditions and the role of the agricultural sector in the importing countries. In addition, the penetration of illicit goods into normal supply chains is a growing trend. Europe has been a preferred market for the illegal trade in pesticides. In 2017, pesticide exports from the EU amounted to about US $6.0 billion, and imports came to about US $1.5 billion (EUIPO 2017). Statistical analysis can sometimes provide insight into unusual trade patterns. From 2014 to 2016, for example, Morocco reported to Comtrade an average of almost US $700,000 per year in exports to France. France, however, reported a total for imports fromMorocco of a grand total of US $112 for the same time period. One explanation for this difference between the export and import figures is that smugglers diverted the product; another possibility is illegal traders changed the shipping documents. A plausible explanation that is also legal is difficult to imagine.

Brazil and its neighbouring countries are considered another hotspot for illegal traders. The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans (Pignati et al. 2017). Intensive agricultural production relies on intensive use of pesticides. The use of active ingredients in Brazil increased from 151,523 tonnes in 2001 to 395,646 tonnes in 2015, an average annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent (Pignati et al. 2017). Brazil is both an importer and a producer of pesticides. While illegal pesticides are imported to Brazil through a variety of official or clandestine roads, regular or clandestine inland waterways and sea ports, official airports and clandestine landing areas (Farias, Mingoti and Spadotto 2017), local production of illicit pesticides is also well developed. Long borders with Uruguay and Paraguaymake the inspection of illegal entries a complex challenge. Another route for illegal pesticides begins in the Chilean ports, and enters Brazilian territory via Paraguay or Bolivia with direct access to the State of Mato Grosso, the largest consumer of pesticides in Brazil (SINDIVEG 2017).

The Illegal Trade in Chemicals


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