Recognizing the harms of illicit trade and the illegal economy to international peace and security, the United States of America today reported the global illicit economy is experiencing a boom.
In his remarks at The OECD High-Level Risk Forum in France, Director David M. Luna for Anticrime Programs, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs exposes the harms of illicit trade and the illegal economy to international peace and security, social cohesion, and economic growth and development.
So why is there so much attention on illicit trade and the illegal economy?
Mr. Luna reiterates Moises Naim’s statement that global criminal activities are transforming the international system, upending the rules, creating new players, and reconfiguring power in international politics and economics.
“Today, global criminal activities “have “transformed the system, changed the rules, and altered power dynamics across the globe.” -Mr. Luna
Mr. Luna says the global illicit economy is experiencing a boom thanks to a wide spectrum of illicit activities: narcotics, kidnapping-for-ransom, arms trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, the trade in stolen and counterfeit goods, bribery, and money laundering, to name just a small cross-section.
According to some estimates, the illegal economy accounts for 8 to 15 percent of world GDP, distorting local economies, diminishing legitimate business revenues, fueling conflict, and deteriorating social conditions, Mr. Luna reported.
“The reality of today’s global economy is one of convergence.” -Mr. Luna
He states that one in which legal business transactions and legitimate commerce both perpetuate and feed off the illegal economy; one in which illegal arms brokers and narcotics kingpins are acting in practice as the new CEOs and venture capitalists.
According to Mr. Luna, from Wall Street to other financial centers across the globe, illicit networks are infiltrating and corrupting licit markets, reducing productivity, and dis-incentivizing investments in research and development.
He adds that today’s global threat environment is a multi-dimensional matrix connecting an incredible array of illicit actors and networks at critical nodes in space and time.
The pipelines linking these threat actors and networks slice through borders, drain licit markets into illicit cesspools of wealth, and undercut the interests and security of our partners across the international community, Mr. Luna underscored.
“The growing illegal economy and criminalized markets are a greater threat that we cannot afford to ignore.” -Mr. Luna
In addition, illicit markets are providing not only a safe haven and exploitable sanctauries for illicit forces, but also illicit liquidity for corrupt officials, criminals, and terrorists to mingle, operate, and do business with, with one another or on their own.
“And, too often, these criminal actors are staging operations without fear of reprisal from law enforcement.” -Mr. Luna
Consequently, Mr. Luna stresses that illicit trade and the wide availability of illicit liquidity not only prevent fair and open markets from reaching their full economic potential and threaten state sovereignty, but the hard truth is that illicit trade also decays communities as kleptocrats, criminals, terrorists.
The United States asserts that corruption and illicit trade are not only barriers to economic growth, trade and investment, and market integrity, but also weaken the entrepreneurial spirit that nurtures innovation, openness, and competiveness. Moreover, whether it be counterfeit medicines or other dangerous counterfeits, defective products, or tainted goods, illicit trade imperils human security and erodes public confidence across our economies.