Counterfeit sales cost the global economy $ 464 billion
International trade in counterfeit and pirated goods was worth $ 464 billion in 2019, with e-commerce proliferating the sale of counterfeit goods in the digital age, according to a conference.
The figures, taken from a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this summer, were discussed at the EMEA security conference in Dubai on Thursday.
The report estimates that 2.5 percent of global trade is linked to counterfeit items.
The products, typically electronics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, auto parts and cigarettes, are generally of inferior quality and pose a threat not only to public health, but also to society as a whole.
Speaking at the conference in Dubai, Philippe Van Gils, head of illicit trade prevention at Philip Morris International, called it a social and economic threat.
“We have to make sure our supply chain is as secure as possible,” he said. The National.
“Knowing your customers, tracking the origins of products and making sure you know your weak points is crucial.
“It takes a network to fight a network. There must be a clear and comprehensive strategy to combat counterfeit products and combat commercial fraud. “
The potential for physical harm to consumers resulting from the use or consumption of counterfeit products, accidental or intentional, is clear.
Poorly manufactured pharmaceuticals, cigarettes and cosmetics can cause health problems, while faulty auto parts can lead to serious injury or death.
However, another major reason why the company suffers from counterfeiting is the loss of potential tax revenue, which can affect economic growth.
It is extremely unlikely that a group of people working in an organized crime sector, such as counterfeiting, will report the profits from their illegal business to the government.
In the tobacco industry alone, Van Gils said about one in 10 products, or 12%, is counterfeit, contributing to “a loss of $ 40 billion to $ 50 billion in global tax revenue.”
Using technology to fight illicit trade
Educating consumers and harnessing technology is one way to fight this organized crime.
But authorities and government agencies also need to tighten import and export regulations and standards.
“It’s about being proactive, not just reactive,” Van Gils said.
“Take technological development for example. The acceleration that has taken place due to Covid-19 has been a good change from a consumer’s perspective.
“Usually they are the victim and only find out that a product is fake when they receive it, which is too late.
“Consumers can now scan codes on packaging to check whether they are genuine or not, they have a platform on their phone that allows them to identify whether it is fake or not. “
He said they can use this technology while browsing online or at the point of purchase and play an active role in reporting the illegal trade to authorities.
The following indications can help a consumer to detect whether a product is genuine or not.
Examine the quality of the product, beware of abnormally low prices, check whether logos and brands are displayed correctly, and if in doubt, contact or check the manufacturer’s website for the genuine product.
In today’s world, Van Gils said, “criminal groups are a moving target,” so it was necessary for all organizations to work together to tackle trade, including public and private companies, law enforcement authorities and the public.
In recent years, he said there has been a phenomenon in Europe where criminals are setting up temporary counterfeit factories and forcing migrants to work in terrible conditions to produce counterfeit goods.
Within three months, they would pack their bags and move elsewhere.
United Arab Emirates tackles counterfeits
UAE customs officials seized 923,724 counterfeit goods at various points of entry into the country last year.
The 2020 Intellectual Property Rights Report, released by the Federal Customs Authority, identified hundreds of thousands of counterfeit items found in numerous searches.
According to the report, seizures of counterfeit goods by sea or sea transport accounted for 70.7% of total seizures, followed by air freight at 19.5%.
Ground transportation and regular mail accounted for 4.9 percent.
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Update: October 30, 2021, 8:18 a.m.