Iran combats cigarette smuggling by allowing foreign firms to enter market
Trying to control the flourishing contraband tobacco market, the state owned Iranian Tobacco Company (ITC) has recently finalized a multi-million dollar agreement with four major foreign cigarette manufacturers, regulating the import and production of tobacco products. Local production would use Iranian-grown tobacco.
ITC is a government agency handling the distribution of most legally imported cigarettes. The agreement commits the four companies—Germany's Reemtsma, British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and South Korea's Korea Tobacco and Ginseng company—to officially import foreign cigarette brands.
The popular brands include West, Davidoff, Polo, Lucky Strike, Kent, Dunhill, Winston, Magna and Pine, reported AFP. Earlier this year, ITC signed a three-year agreement with Reemtsma for the co-production of Iran’s most popular local cigarette brand, Bahman.
Ten million Iranians light over 50 billion cigarettes each year. Forty percent of those—20 billion—are locally produced, earning the state some $120 million in taxes annually. Considering less than a billion cigarettes are legally imported into Iran, Iranian Health Ministry officials assert that as many as 35 billion cigarettes are smuggled each year, costing the state up to one billion dollars in lost tax revenues annually. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)