The nation's busy sea and air ports, its hub position on international trade routes and the fact that police, customs and other government agencies are only just starting to get to grips with the problems have given Britain the role.
Banned substances including ozone-destroying CFC chemicals and parts from endangered wildlife pass through.
Police raids in UK cities have demonstrated that large quantities of medicines purporting to contain extracts from endangered species such as tigers and bears are entering Britain for sale here but much is thought to be for sale abroad.
John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, told a Chinese journalist at the seminar that the British government had no quarrel with Oriental medicine.
But he claimed that endangered wildlife parts were only used as aphrodisiacs, although tiger parts are said to have many beneficial effects. Nicholas SchoonReuse content