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CSD Brief No 32: Reinstating the Duty-Free Trade at Bulgarian Land Borders: Potential Setback in the Fight Against Organized Crime and Corruption
 
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Since the early 1990s the duty-free shops along Bulgaria’s land-border crossings were used as a channel for illegal import of excise goods (cigarettes, alcohol and petrol). With the increase of excise and VAT taxes in the second-half of the 1990s, the risk of alcohol and cigarettes smuggling increased rapidly. The duty-free shops gradually evolved into one of the main channels for the smuggling of cigarettes, alcohol, and fuel. At that period, duty free operators existed without a legal regulation but only with a licensing permit from the Minister of Finance. The smuggling was tacitly tolerated from the highest political level.
 
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