As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of October, 2018, in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 40 percent of tobacco products end up being exported outside of the legal trade framework, and the main culprit for such a situation is poverty and disproportionately high yields on cigarettes and tobacco products. Could a potential move of production to Croatia provide a welcome economic boost for the country?
Even though British American Tobacco (BAT) have denied media speculation that they already started with the move of the production of their cigarettes from Bosnia and Herzegovina to their plants in both Croatia and in Serbia, they haven’t gone as far as to totally exclude such a possibility in the forthcoming period.
Namely, the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina have announced that BAT’s management board has decided that Aurora, Code and Diva cigarettes will be moved away from production in Sarajevo to neighbouring countries.
BAT, on the other hand, told Poslovni Dnevnik that producion at the Sarajevo Tobacco Factory (FDS) hasn’t stopped.
“As BAT has bought FDS’s brands, it is following the policy of producing and selling according to the smokers’ preferences and in accordance with market conditions,” they stated from the company.
Unfortunately, due to the large disturbances on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s market caused by an increase in excise duties and the concerning collapse of the legal market by more than 35 percent in just three years alone, the sale and distribution of FDS former brands are not compromised, but all of BAT’s other brands and other competitors on the market have been, and they therefore continue to face numerous unwanted challenges in this regard.
”On the illegal market itself, more than 80 illegally produced brands have appeared. Because of all of this, the future of production, the former brands of FDS, and of all the other legally produced brands on the Bosnian market is questionable,” BAT explained.
They added that the black tobacco market is a major problem for this whole region, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it exceeds a worrying 40 percent of the total market value. The main reason for this is the high tax burden because Bosnia and Herzegovina has the highest cigarette retail selling taxes in Europe, with the total costs representing 91 percent of the price of the cigarettes themselves.
Because of this, people in Bosnia and Herzegovina pay by far the most for cigarettes compared to the general standard of living in the rest of Europe, naturally leading them into a very tight corner, and then onto the illegal market, meaning that the economic repercussions of Bosnia’s black market problems are dire, to say the very least.
BAT has estimated that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s budget loses more than 230 million KM (about 115 million euro) per capita each year due the strong presence of the country’s illicit tobacco market.
While Serbia, a non-EU country has been mentioned, could the safety of a European Union member state like Croatia be of some comfort to BAT and provide jobs and a possible economic boost to the domestic market if production was to be moved here?
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