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.
x
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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs