x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE gets tough on counterfeit goods

Senior official says government will step up its efforts to curb the trade in illicit goods such as fake handbags and pirated DVDs.

Abu Dhabi // The government will step up its efforts to curb the trade in illicit goods such as fake handbags and pirated DVDs, a senior official said yesterday. Mohammed Omar Abdullah, the undersecretary for the Abu Dhabi department of planning and economy, told the official state news agency, WAM, that mechanisms to enforce laws on intellectual property rights will be strengthened across the country.

A framework should be developed to combat counterfeiting and penalties for violations should be raised to deter offenders who hurt the national economy, he said. In 2006, UAE businesses were estimated to have lost about $700 million (Dh2.5billion) in revenue due to counterfeit items in the consumer goods, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and the car part industries, according to a KPMG survey. The impact of counterfeiting lies mainly in reduced sales and profits due to loss of market share, while the impact on the economy is due to the loss of trade revenues and a loss of custom duties through smuggling.

The department of planning and economy has been training its staff to conduct regular inspections at trade centres, markets and factories to ensure that they are not involved in counterfeiting. During 2008, the department uncovered 4,650 cases of counterfeited items - most of which were copies of international brands. Officials sent 821 warnings to shop owners within the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Mr Abdullah stressed that prompt action would be taken against perpetrators and said the department's trade protection division was ready to receive any complaints concerning counterfeiting.

The undersecretary made the comments at the opening of an anti-counterfeiting exhibition at Abu Dhabi Mall, where more than 20 companies displayed their original products, including watches, electrical goods and clothes, alongside fake items in order to raise public awareness. The volume of trade in fake goods within the Arab world is estimated to amount to $50bn annually, while the global figure is around $780bn, according to the international consulting firm KPMG. KPMG estimates that the trade in spare vehicle parts is the hardest hit industry, with counterfeiting accounting for 12.5 per cent of the market.

lmorris@thenational.ae