Addressing the Global Conference on Cooperation in Enforcement Matters, CBIC Chairman Sanjay Kumar Agarwal emphasized the urgent need for international customs authorities to collaborate in combating the rampant illegal drug trade, which is valued at a staggering USD 650 billion globally. He highlighted the interconnected nature of global trade, which has led to an increase in illicit activities involving restricted items such as antiques, cigarettes, gold, and endangered wildlife species.
Agarwal underscored the severe economic consequences of the illegal drug trade and its potential links to money laundering and terrorism financing, posing significant threats to national security. He stressed the importance of intelligence and information sharing among nations, stating that the theme of the conference, ‘It takes a network to fight a network,’ underscores the need for cooperative efforts in curbing illegal trade.
The CBIC chief acknowledged the challenges posed by the digital world and the use of cryptocurrencies for cross-border transactions, necessitating a focus on enhanced enforcement, regulation, and international cooperation. He outlined India’s proactive approach, including the exploration of technologies such as big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, image analytics, natural language understanding, network analytics, and open source intelligence to detect fraud.
Agarwal also highlighted the shifting landscape of smuggling, tax evasion, commercial fraud, and trade-based money laundering in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. He emphasized the critical role of cooperation and coordination among national and international law enforcement agencies in defeating transnational criminal syndicates and ensuring the integrity of the global supply chain.
According to data from the World Trade Organization, global trade in goods reached USD 25 trillion, while trade in services amounted to USD 7 trillion in 2022.