Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 2

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tobaccoasia 57 storage facilities in practically all of these Asian countries, although those are mostly owned either by partner compa- nies, third-party corporations or – as in China, for example – state-run tobacco monopolies or tobacco boards. Each of the tobacco processing plants typically operates between seven to nine months per the year, which corresponds to the ap- plicable harvesting season in each country. Singapore: Regional Nerve Center The company's Asia regional headquarters is strategically lo- cated in Singapore. "We can travel to the majority of our [production] sites from our [Singapore] office and reach them within only one day," said Henrik Baark, regional director Asia. According to Sikkel part of the reason why the office was established there is because Singapore is a firm supporter of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) free trade. This advantage comes into full swing as the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2015 and the 10 member countries of ASEAN open up their borders and bring down trade barriers. Furthermore, Singa- pore's location at the very tip of the Malay Peninsula, and thus right in the center of the region, affords AOI executives and operatives easy travel options. A Network of Contractors for Various Tobacco Types Together with its numerous partners and stakeholders, AOI directly contacts tobacco farmers to cultivate specific tobacco types whenever possible. "Asia produces the majority of tobacco types needed, in- cluding flue-cured Virginia [FCV], burley, and Oriental, primar- ily Prilep and Basma, but also [certain] sun and air-cured types, dark fire-cured [DFC] and cigar tobaccos," explains Raymond Faasen, the company's regional agronomy director Asia, who is based out of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. In some countries, however, AOI is not able to directly contract farmers. "For example, China is an FOB market where we cannot directly contract farmers, but we can – and do – assist China This tobacco is grown as part of AOI's Vietnamese operation.

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