Communication, Coordination and Collaboration- Strengthening the fight against counterfeiting and smuggling, Karnataka
31/08/2019 | Karnataka
The connectivity of the world’s population has increased phenomenally during the past decades extending the reach of illicit trade to the remotest corners. Technological advent, fast communication channels and globalisation have given impetus to the exponential growth of illicit trade in dangerous forms, such as counterfeiting, smuggling and piracy. According to the World Economic Forum, the economic leakages from illicit trade creates an annual drain on the global economy of $2.2 trillion, which is nearly 3% of the world’s economy.
In order to discuss this growing concern, FICCI CASCADE organised a seminar on “Communication, Coordination and Collaboration: Strengthening the Fight against Counterfeiting and Smuggling” in association with the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru on 31st August 2019. Mr. Ullas Kamath, Chairman, Karnataka State Council, FICCI in his welcome address said that while the national GDP was growing at a rate of 5%, the growth of counterfeit goods was outpacing it at nearly 10%. He added that it was imperative to understand the need for safeguarding the rights of legitimate industry towards developing competitiveness in various sectors of the economy. Mr. Najib Shah, Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE in his theme address, stated that “the realization of the damage counterfeiting causes is not appreciated. On the other hand, smuggling results in generation of unaccounted wealth and is the immediate trigger for criminal activities. We should aim to work towards creating an environment where people will want to be innovators and manufacturers and importers without fear of their work being plagiarised or having to compete with smugglers”.
“Compounding the problem is that counterfeiting has a nebulous definition”, observed Hon’ble Ms. Justice Prathiba M. Singh, Judge, Delhi High Court, the Chief Guest at the programme. While commending FICCI CASCADE’s continued campaign in addressing the menace of smuggling and counterfeiting, Justice Pratibha Singh emphasized on the need for education, awareness and sensitization campaigns amongst consumers, specially the country’s youth, to effectively deal with the problem of illicit trade.
Prof. Dr. M.K. Ramesh, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University, in his address, mentioned that “tackling the menace of counterfeiting and smuggling should be of prime importance with zero defect and zero-effect on the environment. The image of India will shine globally if we strengthen our enforcement of laws, evolve strategies to address this issue and at the same time safeguard the intellect”. The Vice-Chancellor extended his support and ensured the Law School’s commitment to work with FICCI CASCADE in its fight against smuggling and counterfeiting.
The seminar generated discussions on shortcomings in the existing legal framework and likely solutions among senior officials including Mr. Pravin Pawar, DIG-CID, Karnataka State Police, Mr. P P Hegde, Criminal Lawyer, Karnataka High Court, Dr. Nagarathna, National Law School, Mr. S K Murthy, Patent Counsel, Intel India and Ms. Vijayalakshmi Malkani, IP Counsel, Hindustan Unilever. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Manmohan Sarin, Former Lok Ayukta, NCT of Delhi, Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, Judge, High Court of Delhi and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE, who chaired the panel discussion, said that “our society sees counterfeit goods as a cost-effective alternative to the real thing. But how many people realise that the income from fake goods is funding illegal activities?”. DIG CID Mr. Pawar remarked that many junior police officers lacked the skills required to tackle illicit trading activities. “The police’s priority is basic law and order. Even when anti-counterfeiting busts are effective, convictions are low because of slow justice in courts” he added.
The subsequent panel discussions focused on the issue of online counterfeiting, potential solutions with respect of enforcement and policy guidelines by concerned government departments. Eminent panelists in the deliberations included Mr. A. K, Jyotishi, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Bengaluru Zone, Mr. T G Venkatesh, Additional Director, DRI, Bengaluru Zone, Mr. Harikrishna Holla, Advocate, Dr. Anita A Patil, Assistant Professor, NLSIU, Mr. Pradeep Dixit, General Manager-Industry Affairs, ITC and Mr. Diwakar Singh Pundir, Head Legal & IP, Marico Limited. Mr. P C Jha, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect taxes and Customs, while chairing the session, highlighted that in the last twenty years, the volume of counterfeiting activities globally had increased 100 times and the size of trade in counterfeited goods was 10% of the legal international trade amounting to 2% of the world’s overall economic output. “The problem of illicit trade is much more serious than it is commonly perceived”, he emphasized.
Prof. (Dr.) T. Ramakrishna, Professor of Law, Chair of Intellectual Property Rights, Head, CIPRA, Head, Institute of Excellence on Standards and IPR, elaborated on the best practices in dealing with the counterfeiting issue globally, citing laws in the US, Turkey, Canada, UAE and Japan, along with Mr. Ranjan Narula, Managing Partner, RNA, who spoke on the laws in the US and Canada.
The event witnessed enthusiastic participation of over 100 industry captains, representative from consumer forums, lawyers, government officials and other stakeholders. The program concluded with the participating delegates agreeing on the following proposals:
1. The primary concern in tackling the growing phenomenon of illicit trade is the implementation and enforcement of laws, as the legal framework is adequate.
2. There is a need to train judicial and police officers for ease of implementation and prosecution of such cases.
3. The need to understand that the consumers are also an important stakeholder. Involving them to fight the increasing menace is essential to tackle this isuue.
4. Naming and shaming both users and producers of counterfeit products is another essential mechanism, which will lead to shunning of the products by the consumers themselves, thereby leading to a change in the mindset of the people.
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FICCI CASCADE Inter-School Competition on ZERO Evasion – ‘Fight Against Counterfeiting and Smuggling, New Delhi
07/08/2019| New Delhi
With the unrelenting growth of illicit trade through counterfeiting and smuggling, FICCI CASCADE has been continuously campaigning against these activities. However, as the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling has led to more financial, economic and social crisis, it is our continuous endeavour to revisit, rethink and test new approaches in addressing this socio-economic challenge.
India has a young population profile and is set to be the youngest country by 2020. The youth of India being the country’s future, it becomes imperative to understand the power tomorrow’s consumers. With youngsters becoming a key stakeholder for advocating socially responsible behaviour, FICCI CASCADE believes that it is important to bring them on board the awareness campaign and through them influence the society as a whole. We believe that an idea planted in their minds can become an instrument of change.
FICCI CASCADE has initiated a youth movement across the country to spread awareness among the young minds and seek their support to underpin the fight against counterfeiting and smuggling. Such a campaign has offered an opportunity to bring in more people, particularly youngsters to push forward its actions to curb the ensuing menace.
In order to pick the brains of the young school children and inspire the youth to take required actions to discourage and stop the purchase of fake, spurious and smuggled goods, FICCI CASCADE organised an Interschool Meet on the subject, where over 350 students from 50 leading schools from Delhi and NCR and few from other states as well competed against each other in three categories of competitions, namely, Painting, Elocution and Creative Writing, on the theme “Zero- Evasion: Fight Counterfeiting and Smuggling” on 6th August 2019 in FICCI, New Delhi. The programme was also supported by FICCI ARISE (Alliance for re-imagining School Education).
The contest witnessed enthusiastic and active participation from students, most of whom were very impressive in expressing their concern on the need to curb such illegal trade practices. The competitions provided a unique platform to the young minds to express their views through their oratory and creative talent on diverse themes like “Young India Says No to Counterfeiting and Smuggling”, “Terrorism Financing through Smuggling”, “India: A Victim of Smuggling”, “India’s Brand Integrity at Stake due to Counterfeiting and Smuggling” etc.
The competitions were judged by Mr. P. K Malhotra, Former Secretary of Law and Justice, Govt. of India, Mr. Sanjeev Tripathi, Former Chief of RAW, Mr. Hem Pande, Former Secretary, Consumer Affairs, GOI, Mr. Deep Chand, Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi and Mr. P. C. Jha, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE & Former Special Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC),
The winners in the competitions were as follows:
|#||Name of the Competition||1st||2nd||3rd||Consolation|
|1||Elocution Competition||Mannat Arora
Blue Bells Model School, Gurgaon
School: Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh
School: Nehru World School
School: Queen’s Valley School, Dwarka
|2||Painting Competition||Supriya Baital
School: Birla Vidya Niketan, Pushpa Vihar
School: Spingdales School, Pusa Road
School: St. Columba’s School, Ashok Place
School: Don Bosco School
School: Arvind Gupta DAV Centenary Public School
School: The Future Kids School
|3||Creative Writing Competition||Devanshi Yadav
School: Ryan International School, Vasant kunj
School: Mount Abu Public School, Rohini
School: Lilawati Vidhya Mandir Sr. Sec School, Shakti Nagar
School: Laxman Public School, Hauzkhas
School: Darbari Lal DAV Model School, Shalimar Bagh
Through the competitions not only did all witness the skills and creative abilities of the school children, but also visible was the passion in them to bring about a change in the society by shunning fake products and saying no to smuggled goods.
To reiterate, awareness generation is extremely crucial in bringing change in attitudes from considering counterfeiting and smuggling activities as victimless crime to the realization that it entails grave risks, both social and economic. A pro-active and preventative approach and strategy is the need of the hour to curb the twin menace. Several steps are being taken by FICCI CASCADE and the government to create large-scale awareness among the most impacted segment of this menace: the consumer. This youth awareness initiative was one of a series of such events to be organised across the country as part of a nation-wide awareness campaign to highlight the issue and focus on the growing menace of illicit trade.Lear More
Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy, New Delhi
05/07/2019| New Delhi
Over some time now, trade in counterfeit, smuggled and pirated goods has developed into a substantial threat to the economy of our country and pose serious safety and security hazards to the society at large. Different government agencies are involved at various stages in tackling such crimes, right from detection, investigation, prosecution and prevention of these offences, often including the recovery of the proceeds of crime. The police department is the primary law enforcement agency in our country. With low barriers to market entry and infiltration, the police play a very significant role in ensuring the protection of right owners. There are adequate laws available but enforcement of the laws makes the role of police officers even more important in the fight against counterfeiters and smugglers.
FICCI CASCADE has been organizing capacity building programs for police officers in various states, focusing on economic offences such as counterfeiting, piracy and smuggling, equipping the officers to understand the laws and take requisite action against counterfeiters and smugglers. In pursuance of its agenda of sensitizing police officers on this issue, FICCI CASCADE organized a series of capacity building programmes for police officers on ‘Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy’ during June-July 2019 in Vizianagaram, Mysore, Chennai, Meghalaya and culminated it in New Delhi on 5th July, 2019.
A key objective of the program was to build capacities of the officials on seriousness of the socio-economic impact of counterfeited and smuggled goods and the practical aspects that has to be kept in mind by the officers while investigation of economic crimes. Over 250 police officers of the rank SIs, ASIs, DSPs, ACPs and DCPs participated in the training programme at Barakhamba Police Station, New Delhi.
Mr. Deep Chand, Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi and Advisor, FICCI CASCADE, in his address informed about FICCI CASCADE’s mandate of capacity building of law enforcement agencies including Judges, Police and Customs Officers, and how CASCADE had been working extensively and intensively in this area nationally, organizing training programmes and seminars along with continuous interactions with the law enforcement authorities to emphasize on the importance of increased awareness on the gravity of the problem.
Mr. Chand correlated smuggling and counterfeiting activity with the security challenge in different environments around the world. He cited various instances where illicit trade in goods is being increasingly used to fund anti-social and terrorist activities. Mr. Chand also urged that need of the hour today was tangible actions to increase enforcement, and to impose increased punishments. This is imperative to reassure legitimate business owners and consumers that the government is serious about protecting right owners, and this will, in turn, encourage greater support for government policies.
While deliberating on the topic, some of the challenges for police in addressing such crimes that were highlighted are:
• Capacity in terms of skill, infrastructure and technology amongst the law enforcement is not adequate.
• Since the police officers are fully occupied with the investigation of property offences and crime they have little exposure to economic offences and special provisions contained in the enforcement of the IP laws. Hence, it is not a priority for police officers.
• Lack of knowledge of legal provisions related to IP laws. This is necessary for efficient investigation and successful prosecution.
• Majority of the Investigation Officers do not have requisite training and are not comfortable with the investigation that involves such offences.
Mr. Suvashis Choudhary, IPS, Additional Commissioner of Police, Economic Offence Wing, Delhi Police, chief guest at the programme said that, ‘”The fundamental work of the police is to safeguard life and property of the public, and to maintain law and order in the society. Counterfeiting and smuggling activities is a wire joint which encourages organized crimes. Traditional crimes like murder and terrorism are usually given importance however, economic crimes like counterfeiting and smuggling which affect our daily lives are not given due priority’. Mr. Choudhary thanked FICCI CASCADE for its initiative of sensitizing police officers on this pertinent issue and urged the industry to come forward and work collaboratively with the police to address this menace”.
The training session was also addressed by eminent lawyers, academicians and industry discussing on a wide range of concerns on the subject with the participating police officials. The programmes were supported by United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO). Mr. Timothy K. Browning, Attorney-Advisor, USPTO, Washington emphasized on the creation of a National Coordination Center to enforce IP laws and resolve issues arising out of this menace. He also said ‘‘USPTO stands for promoting strong and effective IP laws globally and we have collaborated with FICCI CASCADE to exchange best practices and new methods to counter crimes such as counterfeiting, smuggling and piracy.”
All speakers unanimously agreed on the fact that the existence and operation of smuggling, counterfeiting and piracy is not only broad in scope and large in value but is draining the global economy, causing losses to both industry & government, and most importantly adversely impacting the health and safety of the consumers. There is an urgent need to create communication, coordination and close cooperation amongst various government agencies, law enforcement officials and private sector to curb the growing scourge.Lear More
Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy, Meghalaya
29/06/2019| North Eastern Police Academy, Meghalaya
FICCI CASCADE in its series of capacity building programme for police officers organised a training programme on 29 th June 2019 in North Eastern Police Academy, Meghalaya on the ‘Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy’. A key objective of the program was to prioritize the issue of trade in illicit products and its socio-economic impact among the officers so that the practical aspects are kept in mind by the officers while investigating such economic crimes. 202 police officers participated in the training programme. Among the speakers who discussed the wide-ranging concerns on the issue of counterfeiting, piracy and smuggling with the participating police officials were: Mr. Deep Chand, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, Mr. Bhaskar Mukherjee, Partner, Lexprotector, Mr. Milind Palany, Senior Manager, Global Brand Protection, India & South Asia, Johnson and Johnson and Ms. Aindrila Biswas, Brand Protection Consultant, Eastern Region-India, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. The workshop was extremely helpful in sensitizing the police officers about the relevant laws and procedures to be followed while dealing with the cases related to smuggling and counterfeiting.Lear More
Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy, Chennai
21/06/2019| Tamil Nadu Police Academy, Chennai
Over a period of time, trade in counterfeiting and smuggling has developed into a substantial threat to the economy globally. This challenge of the time needs to be addressed at a priority with effective enforcement of laws as a key to curb the menace. With a view to highlight the importance of this global threat, FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) organised a Capacity Building Programme on June 21, 2019 at the Tamil Nadu Police Academy, Chennai. Mr. Amaresh Pujari, IPS, Additional Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu & Director, Tamil Nadu Police Academy in his address said that, ‘’Awareness is the first step towards enforcement as the problem of trade in illicit products emanates from the lack of awareness. We appreciate this initiative of FICCI CASCADE in sensitizing the enforcement officers and we hope that this will cascade down to field officers to facilitate the enforcement of laws to counter sucheconomic offences”.
Distinguished experts such as Mr. Karthikeyan. N, Advocate, Madras High Court, Mr. Timothy K. Browning, Attorney-Advisor, US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington, Mr. Rajesh Ramanathan, Partner, Factum Law, Mr. Madhuresh Singh, Head-Legal, Puma, Ms. Shakthi Priya, Legal Consultant, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Mr. Santhanarajan Ganapathy, Director, Consumers Association of India and Ms. S Arumugasamy, ADSP (Training), Tamil Nadu Police Academy also shared their thoughts on illicit trade. The workshop was extremely helpful in sensitizing the police officers about the relevant laws and procedures to be followed while dealing with the cases related to smuggling and counterfeiting. Over 80 officers of Tamil Nadu joined FICCI CASCADE in its fight against counterfeiting and smuggling.
Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy, Mysore
17/06/2019| Karnataka Police Academy, Mysore
‘‘Karnataka Police Academy has been committed to this cause for a long time and it is on their agenda to train the officers on such crimes. The effects of crimes such as counterfeiting and smuggling have a gestation period and only grows with time, hence severe and deterrent actions needs to be taken against such criminal activities’’, said Mr. Vipul Kumar, IPS, Director, Karnataka Police Academy chief guest at the capacity building programme organised by FICCI CASCADE on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy at Karnataka Police Academy, Mysore on June 17, 2019. FICCI CASCADE has been sensitizing enforcement officers on the issue of counterfeiting and smuggling and equipping them to understand and take requisite actions against such crimes.
Prof. Jagadish AT, Assistant Professor, JSS Law College, Mysuru, Mr. Timothy K. Browning, Attorney- Advisor, US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington, Mr. Prashanth S Shivadass, Advocate, Shivadass and Shivadass Law Chambers, Mr. Milind Palany, Senior Manager, Global Brand Protection, India & South Asia, Johnson and Johnson, Mr. Madhuresh Singh, Head-Legal, Puma and Ms. Divya Srikanth, Assistant Legal Manager, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. joined Mr. Kumar in deliberating their concerns on illicit trade and finding ways to mitigate the growing challenges of counterfeiting and smuggling. This capacity building programme sensitized the police officers on the importance of continued awareness and seriousness of the impact of counterfeited and smuggled goods. More than 80 officers participated in the training programme.Lear More
Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy, Vizianagaram
14/06/2019| Police Training College, Vizianagaram
Illicit trading practices such as smuggling, counterfeiting and piracy are not only causing huge losses to the government and industry, but it has significant economic and health & safety consequences for the society at large. FICCI CASCADE in order to address this issue organised a capacity building programme on Prevention of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Piracy at Police training College, Vizianagaram on June 14, 2019. Mr. D. Rama Chandra Raju, Principal, Police Training College, Vizianagaram in his inaugural address said that ‘‘The police is a primary law enforcement agency and have a significant role to play in fighting the menace of smuggling and counterfeiting. Although counterfeiting and smuggling was looked at as a victimless crime, it had many far-reaching consequences and it is extremely important for a police officer to understand the consequences before taking actions on ground. Only then will an officer investigating a case related to smuggling and counterfeiting be able to understand and take suitable actions”. Mr. Raju commended FICCI CASCADE for taking this maiden initiative in Andhra Pradesh for training police officers on the critical area of illicit trade.
Eminent speakers from the industry and legal experts such as Dr. P. Tirumala, Associate Professor, Lendi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Mr. Timothy K. Browning, Attorney-Advisor, US Patents and Trademarks Office, Washington, Mr. C N S P Krishna Rao, Advocate, Mr. Milind Palany, Senior Manager, Global Brand Protection, India & South Asia, Johnson and Johnson, Mr. Akshay Sangwan, Manager -Brand Protection and Legal Affairs, Puma and Ms. Shakthi Priya, Legal Consultant, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. also discussed and deliberated on various aspects police officer needs to keep in mind while investigating cases of smuggling and counterfeiting. The training programme was enthusiastically attended by over 90 officers, and it observed a deliberate discussion and an interactive platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences in the enforcement of laws and practices while dealing with counterfeiters and smugglers.Lear More
Stakeholder Consultation with Customs and DRI- Developing Strategic Actions Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting, New Delhi
18/03/2019| New Delhi
With each passing day, the world is becoming more and more interconnected with greater flow of goods, people, capital, information and technology. This provides countries with the opportunity to fast-track economic growth and development through increased international trade. This,on one hand proves to be beneficial to legitimate trade; while on the other hand it also benefits illegal trade, where criminals are making use of more integrated markets to illicitly move goods, people and money across borders. Hence, the new global trade landscape also brings new set of challenges. Customs administrations around the worldnot only contribute to socio-economic development by facilitating legitimate trade, but also protect national economies and societies against the threats posed by organized criminal syndicates and terrorists.
With a view to identify opportunities for joint action between Customs and industry to combat illicit trade, FICCI CASCADE organized a Stakeholder Consultation with Customs and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on 18th March 2019 in FICCI. The principal purpose of the program was to understand the trends of smuggling and counterfeiting, measures taken by the Customs and DRI to thwart such activities and collaborative measures required in addressing this issue.
Mr. D P Dash, Pr. Director General, DRI was the Chief Guest at this consultation. In his address Mr. Dash emphasised on the importance of data while talking about this issue. He said that the quality of data with respect to illicit trade is a matter of concern worldwide and not only in India. The main issue is that data needs to be correct, complete, published on time and also interpreted correctly. Smuggling and counterfeit is a matter of worry with regards to the health and security in a big way and Mr. Dash suggested that we should have different strategic action plans for addressing (i) smuggling, (ii) counterfeiting and (iii) smuggling of counterfeit goods. He also urged the right holders to increase their participation and coordination with Customs.
Mr. O.P. Dadhich, Chief Commissioner of Customs, New Delhi in his address stated thatgetting information is a challenge as well as the biggest problem for Customs. He further added that tobacco, branded garments, cosmetics and mobile phone accessories are the biggest smuggling items in India.
Mr. Najib Shah, Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs & Member, FICCI CASCADE Think Tank in his address mentioned thatIllicit manufactures and non-paying of taxes impact government revenue on a large scale and hence it is imperative that Government must frame policies regarding the subject. Moreover, the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling not only impacts the revenue but also the employment of the country.
Mr. P. C Jha, Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and Advisor, FICCI CASCADE in his welcome remarks said that the total economic and social costs globally due to Counterfeiting and piracy worldwide stood at Rs. 57.23 lakh crore in 2013 and expected to go up to 119.7 lakh crore by 2022. Mr. Jha mentioned that 65% of the consumers buy counterfeit goods knowingly; hence it is important to change in the mindset of consumers to buy genuine products. Subsequently if consumers were to purchase only against bill- this will reduce the problem by 80%. He further emphasised the need to have stringent penal provisions under Trade Marks Act and Copyright Act to have a deterrent effect.
FICCI CASCADE has been successful in stirring an active debate on the topic nationally through various awareness programmes and initiatives engaging industry, policy makers, law enforcement officials, voluntary organizations, youth and consumer at large. Among other activities, FICCI CASCADE has been engaging with customs and DRI officials across India in various states highlighting the magnitude of the menace and discussing industry collaborative measures to address this issue. Over the past several years, CASCADE has also felicitated a Best Investigation Officer from the Customs and DRI for their exceptional skills in investigation of counterfeiting and smuggling activities.
This multi stakeholder dialogue apart from understanding the menace caused by illicit goods, also presented an essence of the on ground functioning of industry with customs officials. Some of the key issues deliberated were:
- Ongoing research and data analysis to understand the trends andmagnitude of the problem.
- Need for global standards from best practice around the world.
- International cooperation in facilitating exchange of information and intelligence.
- Need for tools and collaborative programs to support customs in the areas of intelligence, capacity building and training.
Leading industries, legal firms, technology providers, consumer organizations and other relevant stakeholders took part in the interactions.Lear More
Smuggling and counterfeiting which are termed as illicit trade is today the biggest challenge facing our country. It is also the world’s largest growing economic menace. Owing to its rather complex nature, its size is hard to determine. However, various estimates suggest that over the last ten years, the magnitude of illicit trade has grown from USD 650 billion to about USD 3 trillion, and this criminal activity represents 10 per cent of the global trade, being rightly termed by the FBI as the ‘crime of the 21st century’. It is evident that the hazards of illicit trade are serious which needs to be dealt with sincere commitment leading to result-oriented effective steps addressing this challenge. In order to brain storm on strategies needed to address the problem, FICCI CASCADE organized an Interactive Session on Strategies to Curb Smuggling and Counterfeiting on 13th March 2019 in Goa. This interaction between FICCI CASCADE Think Tank members and representatives from the Government of Goa was organized with the intent to facilitate a wider exchange and ensure a multifaceted perspective to not only understand the risks caused by illicit trade activities but also search for remedial measures to contain this concern.
Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE, in his opening remarks, stated that with the opening up of the Indian economy in 1991, branded goods made their way into India and there was a clear element of glamour attached to them, which led to a spike in aspirations, especially for the middle-class population. While many products are being introduced through the legal channel, a significantly large number are today serviced through the smuggled and counterfeit route. Participants in this illicit trade not only deprive the government of its rightful revenue but also create an army of anti-social elements who are a threat to each and every society in the world. The criminal networks behind this operate across national borders in activities that include the manufacture, export, import and distribution of smuggled products. Mr. Rajput also highlighted the fact that smuggled goods result in export of jobs and have a detrimental impact on the employment opportunities of the local habitant and hence, this issue needs to be stressed upon and highlighted adequately.
Mr. P. C. Jha, FICCI CASCADE and Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs in his address stressed upon the issue of inadequate penal provisions and delayed prosecution/adjudication proceedings which failed to create the desired deterrence with regards to this crime. Moreover, it is also seen that industry do not fully cooperate during investigations and prosecution. More proactive and dedicated actions are needed to be taken by the affected industry, he emphasized.
The discussants from the Government included Mr. Pranab Nanda, Director General of Police, Goa, Mr. K Anpazhakan, Commissioner, GST, Goa, Mr. Satish Pattapu, Joint Director, DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit and Mr. Nilotpal Mrinal, Commandant, Central Industrial Security Force. The members from FICCI CASCADE Think Tank included Mr. Hem Kumar Pande, Former Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Mr. Anil Sinha, Former Director CBI, Mr. Sanjeev Tripathi, Former Chief of RAW, Mr Najib Shah, Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Mr. Vikram Srivastava, Former DG, CRPF, Ms Kameswari Subramanian, International Expert Customs Law Procedures and Trade Facilitation and Mr Narendra Sabharwal, Former DDG, WIPO, & Chairman FICCI IPR Committee.
The interactions identified that the action required to address this menace had many elements, starting with greater vigil at the borders. With illicit trade being a worldwide phenomenon, bilateral and multilateral engagements between nations would ensure greater difficulty, if not immobility, of smuggled & counterfeit products from one nation to another. The second stage was strengthening the enforcement agencies and working towards designing better legal system to address this challenge. Punitive action coupled with the right policy framework that dis-incentivizes this entire activity would deter such illegitimate operators from making repeated attempts. Finally, the focus should be on consumers who need to be made aware of the detrimental impact of such spurious goods. Consumer awareness campaigns that explain how to differentiate a fake product from a genuine one, to demanding a copy of the bill from the seller, along with the harmful consequences of buying illegal products vis-a-vis the genuine, needs to explicitly be conveyed.
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