Mapping Illicit Trade Enabling Environments

June 21, 2018

The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) have released the first Global Illicit Trade Environment Index with a global launch running simultaneous regional events in Hong Kong, Brussels and Panama City. The report ranks 84 countries and territories on the extent to which they enable or prevent illicit trade, also highlighting countries’ various strengths and weaknesses.

Among the various findings, Finland ranks first within the Global Index with a score of 85.6 (out of 100), marginally ahead of the United Kingdom. The rest of the top 10 included a handful of European countries (Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Germany), along with the United States, Australia and New Zealand. At the bottom of the Index ranking is a group of developing economies from all regions of the globe. Iraq and Libya rank lowest. 

TRACIT is an independent, business-led initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade. “We established TRACIT last year because we observed that there was a very clear void in the fight against illicit trade. What can we do to try to motivate intergovernmental organisations to try and have a joined up, holistic approach?” Jeffrey Hardy, TRACIT’s Director General, told Stop Illegal. 

“Governments and civil society must do more to crack down on illicit trade”

The initiative draws from industry strengths and market experience to build habits of cooperation between business, government and the diverse group of countries that have limited capacities for regulatory enforcement. “Business has an important role to help shape the regulatory response to illicit trade, and to help itself across sectors, to share intelligence, data, resources and measures that have been demonstrated to effectively control supply chain abuse. These measures can only be effective if the private sector works closely with governments to strengthen national government enforcement mechanisms and close local governance gaps that facilitate illicit trade.”

The research and analysis underpinning the Global Index focuses on four key policy areas: 

  • Transparency and trade

  • Customs Environment

  • Supply and Demand

  • Government Policy

In addition, the Index features a number of indicators that address corruption, intellectual property protection, law enforcement, criminal activity, Free Trade Zone (FTZ) governance, and illicit financial flows.

Inspired by the thematic categories upon which the Index was constructed, TRACIT has also published policy recommendations that are universal in nature, providing a “checklist” of fundamental measures governments can implement to improve their ability to defend against illicit trade. According to TRACIT, governments should:

1. Commit to illicit trade related treaties
2. Tighten controls on money laundering
3. Eliminate corruption
4. Rationalize tax policies
5. Strengthen law enforcement efforts
6. Strengthen the customs environment
7. Protect intellectual property
8. Enhance interagency cooperation
9. Improve governance of Free Trade Zones across the globe
10. Report and share statistical data across borders

“Governments need to strengthen interagency cooperation. Very few, if any, governments have a high level, politically powered coordinator to make sure that all agencies have the resources and the staff they need”, Jeffrey Hardy points out.

“The idea is for at TRACIT to establish a benchmark on a country by country basis, of how government might perform in each of the trade categories - it’s not a measure of effectiveness, but it is a measure of their structural ability to fight against illicit trade”, Jeffrey Hardy sums up. “We need to help governments better understand what their strengths are and weaknesses are, as this is where the conversation starts.”

To access the interactive map, Index workbook and all EIU work products, please visit the Global Illicit Trade Hub at

To access TRACIT’s policy recommendations & press releases, please visit



Written by STOP: ILLEGAL

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