Webinar on ‘Go Vocal for Local to Combat Illicit Trade’, New delhi
17/06/2020 | New delhi
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in halting economic activity across the globe. The way businesses are done will not be the same in a post COVID scenario, as this crisis has led to huge supply chain disruption. The pandemic has taught us the importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chain. As businesses suffer, during this crisis, any sale of illicit products will only worsen the socio-economic distress. While arresting this menace is vital, encouraging the use of indigenous goods will also play a defining role to eliminate this socio-economic threat. This will in turn promote ‘Brand India’, benefit Indian economy, reduce the demand of imported goods, avoid dumping of cheap products, create jobs and deter cross border illicit trade.
It is in the above background that FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) organized a webinar on Go Vocal for Local to Combat Illicit Trade’ on 17th June 2020. FICCI CASCADE has been over the years working closely with government, enforcement officials, industry, media, and consumers to create awareness on pan-India basis about the serious adverse impact of the menace of illicit trade on the security of the country, revenue of government, health and safety of people, etc.
Dr Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convener, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, dinstinguished speaker at the programme said that “In the name of free trade, many countries are promoting illegal trade. In such situation, it is very important to promote Swadeshi to boost the country’s economy and eliminate illegal trade”. He further added that “issues like dumping, under invoicing and smuggling have led to loss of revenue to the government, closing of domestic production and have impacted job opportunities for our youth.”
Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE in his welcome address mentioned that “The Hon’ble Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘vocal for local’ is perfectly timed and apt. In the recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic has created huge disruptions and pressed the reset button all over the globe. India will have to create world-class domestic brands which are competitively superior, and leverage the strength of our rich traditional product base and expertise. The time has come when we not only build Indian brands, but build brand India globally.
The panel discussion at the webinar was moderated by Mr. Najib Shah, Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE. Other eminent discussants included Acharya Balkrishna, MD, Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, Mr. Ashok Jain, Vice President, Finance and Company Secretary, Dabur India Ltd. and Ms. Vijayalakshmy Malkani, IP Counsel, Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
The webinar deliberated on how illicit trade is not only denting government exchequer but is also threatening local industries on which, depend livelihoods of many. In the Indian context, FICCI CASCADE’s recent report estimated that 16 lacs jobs were lost in 2017-18 due to smuggling in 5 industry sectors. The pandemic has resulted in massive loss of jobs and livelihood worldwide and countries are taking extraordinary actions to respond to this crisis. Hence, curbing cross border illicit trade will play a key role in abating this looming threat.
The deliberations in the panel discussion revolved around the following:
• Illicit trade hurts the country and needs to be effectively countered through a combination of policy intervention, enforcement and creating consumer awareness.
• Being self reliant or swadeshi in its true essence does not mean shutting the doors to FDI or trade; it is a strategy to grow our capabilities, source products from within the country and still be competitive.
• The youth of India can play an important role to end the country’s dependency on foreign goods. For the good of the country, government, industry and consumers must jointly take responsibility to stop illicit trade.
• Counterfeit products also come to India via the import channel through dubious means, which leads to loss of revenue for the government which could be used for healthcare, education, infrastructure expenditures.
• Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is a movement to show faith and to support local manufacturers. Enforcement of laws to safeguard local brands and genuine manufactures against illicit trade and counterfeiting of their products is imperative. This will help build ‘Brand India’ and protect the rights of indigenously grown goods
The webinar brought together several industry players and other stakeholders to deliberate on this topical issue. Mr. Arun Chawla, Deputy Secretary General FICCI, in his concluding address harped on the fact that the uniqueness of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ or being ‘vocal for local’ is not that it is inward looking or being protectionist, it is a strategy to build for ourselves, reducing our dependence on imports and thereby promoting fair trade and curtailing cross border illegal trade.