The regional conference on illicit trade will discuss the draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that aims at enhancing international co-operation in the fight against the vice. The conference is scheduled to take place next week (October 6-7) in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Launched in 2006 by United States and Japan, the Agreement also contains international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights.
Negotiations started in June 2008 among United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the 27 European Union member states, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Republic of Korea, and Morocco. Negotiations are expected to be concluded in 2010.
According to a statement from the East African Business Council (EABC), the region’s private sector umbrella organization, a key presentation on global trends in addressing illicit trade including the ACTA will be discussed during the meeting.
“The problem of counterfeits is not just a regional problem but also a global problem. That is why we have invited International Chamber of Commerce to share with us best practices on how to deal with counterfeits and illicit trade at a global and regional level,” said Agatha Nderitu, the Executive Director of E ABC in release on Wednesday.
The multi-faceted problem includes acts of; selling counterfeits, smuggling and under-declared locally produced goods among others. EABC says the illicit trade undermines existence of a stable and open marketplace which is fundamental to improving competitiveness and increasing investment.
“The need for a regionally concerted effort to address the problem cannot be overstated bearing in mind that we are one customs territory. A lot of counterfeiting of well-known EAC brands is going on nationally, with goods being exported to other EAC countries,” Nderitu observed.
International experts including officials from World Customs Organization, Investment Climate Facility and International Standards Organization are expected to attend the meeting.
“By borrowing expertise from competent delegates of international repute, we hope to come up with a strong regional strategy on how to deal with counterfeits and illicit trade within the East Africa Community,” Nderitu said.
While EAC Partner States have made some progress in seeking ways to address the illegal trade, EABC says that regional initiatives are still lacking.
“After the conference, we shall commence a more focused program on illicit trade, especially counterfeits, smuggling and piracy. We will come up an Action Plan that clearly articulates the gaps in the various national and regional legislations that enable illicit trade to continue thriving.”
In a report published in 2008 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it is estimated that EAC governments lose over $500 million in tax revenue annually due to the influx of counterfeit and pirated products.