Smuggling of sugar from Laos, Cambodia into Vietnam on the rise

Saturday, February 05, 2022, 17:12 GMT+7

Smuggling of sugar from Laos, Cambodia into Vietnam on the rise
This image shows a field of sugar canes in Vietnam. Photo: Anh Cao / Tuoi Tre

The volume of sugar illegally imported into Vietnam from Cambodia and Laos has been increasing, with 757,000 metric tons per year in the 2015-19 period, nearly 2.8 times the quantity in the 2008-14 period, according to a recently released report.

These figures were released at a seminar on the sustainable development of Vietnam’s sugar industry co-organized by the Vietnam Sugar and Sugar Cane Association (VSSA) and U.S.-based Forest Trends, which protects critical ecosystems through creative environmental finance, markets, supply chains, and other incentive mechanisms.

Dr. Nguyen Vinh Quang, who represents Forest Trends, delivered at the workshop a report on supply chains for Vietnam’s sugar industry and issues related to the sector’s sustainable development.

About 273,571 metric tons of sugar was smuggled into Vietnam from Cambodia per year in the 2008-14 period, during which no sugar was illicitly brought into Vietnam from Laos, according to the report.

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Cross-border smuggling bogs down Vietnam’s sugar industry

Sugar contraband illicitly brought into Vietnam from Thailand is increasing, adding an additional burden to the country’s struggling sugarcane enterprises:


MAY 24, 2022
Cross-border smuggling bogs down Vietnam’s sugar industry
Cross-border smuggling of sugar into Vietnam is muddying the sector and could support other illicit trafficking and trade. Artwork: Emilie Languedoc for Southeast Asia Globe

On any given day, smugglers pile bags of sugar near the banks of the Mekong River in Cambodia. 

After piling it into boats, they then ferry the sweetener into Vietnam’s southwestern provinces, awaited by motorbike drivers who evade custom officials to drop off the commodity at storehouses. 

In other cases, smuggling outfits mix the illicit sweetener with sugar produced in Vietnam, or change labels to prevent detection of the bootlegged good. Smugglers have also been known to send Vietnamese packaging to Cambodia to disguise sugar before the contraband is taken across the border. 

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