News / Asia

UN: Asia's Transnational Criminal Profits Dwarf GDP

Government worker slashes counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag during ceremonial destruction of fakes goods seized in raids, Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2011.
Government worker slashes counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag during ceremonial destruction of fakes goods seized in raids, Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2011.
Daniel Schearf
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime says criminal groups in East Asia and the Pacific are earning $90 billion annually, most of it from narcotics, fake goods, illegal wood and wildlife, and smuggling people.
According to the UNODC study released Tuesday, “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific, a Threat Assessment," well-organized crime syndicates, reaching suppliers in Africa and markets across Asia, Europe and North America, boast criminal earnings that dwarf some economies in the region.
"It accounts for approximately 90 billion U.S. dollars a year, which, just to put it in perspective, represents two times the size of the GDP of Myanmar, eight times the GDP of Cambodia, and 13 times the GDP of Lao P.D.R.," said Giovanni Broussard, a Bangkok-based UNODC program officer who drafted chapters of the report.
The study says combined sales of heroin and methamphetamines account for more than a third of criminal proceeds in the region, netting roughly $16.3 billion and $15 billion respectively.
Most of the heroin is produced in Burma and sold to buyers in China and Southeast Asia. Both Burma and China are also major manufacturers and exporters of methamphetamines.
Broussard says efforts to crack down on Afghanistan's opium production for heroin led farmers in Burma to increase production.
"That's why we are strongly encouraging countries to work together when devising these strategies ... that repression of one [criminal] activity in one country might have detrimental effect on the neighboring country.
Throughout the report, China emerges as one of the most significant players in transnational crime. Counterfeit goods made in China and sold to Europe and the United States make up the single largest illegal industry, amounting to more than $24 billion annually.
Fake medicines, mainly from China and India, are found throughout Southeast Asia and as far as Africa, risking dangerous health consequences. The UNODC cites forensic studies showing an average of 47 percent of anti-malarial medicines tested in Southeast Asia were found to be fraudulent.
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
China is also the largest consumer of illegal and endangered wildlife, much of it poached from Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma, Laos and Cambodia.
Asia's growing demand for traditional medicine and trinkets is also driving poaching of rhinos and elephants in Africa.
Broussard says there is also evidence that African poachers are looking for replacements of Southeast Asian wildlife nearing extinction.
"We have seen through 2012 more and more episodes of seizures of the African version of … the scaly anteaters, being poached in Africa and seized in maybe one of the transit countries en route to China, [such as] Vietnam," he said.
The study estimates more than 30 percent of the region's wood products, a $17 billion industry, were illegally sourced in 2010 and that China and Indonesia are the largest exporters, annually selling an estimated $7 billion and $6 billion respectively.
Broussard says efforts to prevent organized crime will fail without China's help and cooperation.
"China is certainly a key player," he said. "The size of the country and the growth of its economy makes it certainly a key player in this region. No effective response can be devised in Southeast Asia and the Pacific without the involvement of China."
The UNODC says although human trafficking and migrant smuggling are relatively small in dollar terms, about $2 billion annually, damage done to victims is immeasurable.
The study notes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is set to establish an economic community by 2015 to facilitate the free flow of labor, goods and investment, but it warns the economic community will also make possible the increased mobility of illegal goods.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs