x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE on top five list of counterfeit exporters

Nearly 3 per cent of all confiscated counterfeit items in Europe came through the UAE last year.

ABU DHABI //Nearly a quarter of the counterfeit vehicle parts and accessories confiscated at European borders last year were shipped through the UAE.

That put the Emirates into the top five countries through which fake items were trafficked.

Although just 2.8 per cent of all seized items in Europe came through the UAE, only China, Hong Kong, Greece and India shipped more counterfeit goods.

In recent years officials have targeted car-parts counterfeiting, a persistent problem in the UAE.

In the first half of this year, 30,000 fake parts were confiscated in Dubai but authorities said increased raids and fines were reducing the number of cases.

"We are working to ensure that these fake items are not leaving our country," said a spokesman from the Department of Economic Development.

The UAE was the second-highest exporter of counterfeit body-care items to Europe, accounting for 17 per cent of the total confiscated products last year.

The Emirates also ships 24.6 per cent of the fake vehicles, including parts and accessories, seized in Europe, with a value of €6.8 million (Dh30.9m).

The country is consistently in the top 10 on the annual report on customs enforcement on counterfeit items, which is released by the European Commission's Taxation and Customs Union.

"We can never predict what we're going to stop," said Natasja Bohez, a spokeswoman for the commission. "We keep intercepting more each year."

Medicines, packaging materials and cigarettes were the most confiscated goods last year. Customs authorities seized nearly 115 million articles, totalling more than €1.2 billion (Dh5.5bn) in value.

The UAE was also the last port of call for 5.3 per cent of cigarettes and 11.4 per cent of other tobacco products, including cigars and cigarette papers. Nearly 14 per cent of perfumes and cosmetics also came through the Emirates.

The report notes the UAE is one of the top three exporters of counterfeit foodstuffs, mobile phone parts and accessories, and other electrical equipment.

China is, by far, the largest shipper of counterfeit goods, the report says, accounting for almost 73 per cent of confiscated items.

Hong Kong, the second-largest exporter, accounted for 7.7 per cent. Syria appeared in the report for the first time for shipping mostly recorded CDs and DVDs.

Ms Bohez said the UAE's annual high ranking on the list can most probably be attributed to its large ports and convenient location.

This month, authorities in Dubai raided a warehouse, seizing more than 20,000 fake electronics items worth Dh4m. The owner will be fined Dh30,000, the maximum for trademark infringement.

"Dubai being a major logistics hub and retail destination, we maintain extreme vigil against counterfeiting and trademark infringement," said Khalid Al Youha, the acting manager of CCCP's intellectual property rights protection unit, at the time.

"The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection division conducts regular market inspections and also acts on complaints received, to avoid Dubai being used as a conduit to sell or distribute counterfeit goods."

Customs authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai were not available to comment.

jthomas@thenational.ae