x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

More fake goods, from clothes to tea, seized

Seizures of counterfeit goods in Abu Dhabi are rising, with 3,345 fake items confiscated in the first five months of this year.

ABU DHABI // Seizures of counterfeit goods in Abu Dhabi are rising, with 3,345 fake items confiscated in the first five months of this year, according to the capital's consumer protection department. The seizures this year are well on their way to exceeding the 5,250 counterfeit items seized in Abu Dhabi last year, said Mahmoud al Baloushi, the acting head for consumer protection at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The bulk of the counterfeit goods seized this year was beauty products, such as shampoo, and clothes and accessories, at 1,415 and 1,312 items respectively, Mr al Baloushi said. There were 265 industrial items, such as pipes for plumbing, and 353 tobacco and food items, mainly Lipton tea, he said. The trade in fake goods across the UAE is worth an estimated US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion) annually, according to the Ministry of Economy. But a study in 2006 by the Brand Owners Protection Group (BPG), which represents brands such as Nestlé, British American Tobacco and Estée Lauder, estimates it could be as much as $670m.

More than half of the copied goods, ranging from car parts to designer wallets, are believed to come from South East Asia and China. Just this month, there have been at least two raids on counterfeit goods. Last week, the capital's consumer protection inspectors seized 888 fake BMW car parts from a store in Musaffah, Mr al Baloushi said. In Dubai, more than 3,000 counterfeit Casio watches were seized by the consumer protection department of the Dubai Department of Economic Development.

Last month, Dubai Customs and the Dubai-based BPG signed an agreement with anti-counterfeiting bodies from China and Japan to work more closely. In the capital, the consumer protection department plans a substantial expansion in its budget and staff. The Abu Dhabi consumer protection department may double or triple in size by the end of next year, Mr al Baloushi said, as part of the restructuring of the former department of planning and economy as the Department of Economic Development. The department has 36 staff, not including inspectors and those in the trademark and logo sections.

"From the top levels, they're trying to increase the role of the consumer protection department," Mr al Baloushi said. "We have to make people more aware of the dangers of fake products." aligaya@thenational.ae