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Smuggling and counterfeit trade hold back progress, impact health of the economy and create safety hazards for consumers: Dr Harsh Vardhan

Jan 21, 2021

  • 'Vocal for Local' will be an extremely potent tool in our fight against illicit trade

NEW DELHI, 21 January 2021: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family welfare today said that the 7th edition of MASCRADE will deliberate and discuss actionable, innovative policy solutions that can reverse the rising tide of counterfeit, smuggled and spurious products. He also emphasized the challenges of COVID 19 pandemic and illegal operator of drugs.


Addressing the inaugural session of the 7th edition of 'MASCRADE 2021 - Movement against Smuggled & Counterfeit Trade', organized by FICCI CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy), Dr Vardhan said, "As we are all aware, amid the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the various policy responses designed to contain its spread, illicit players have used the pandemic as an opportunity to increase their nefarious activities, causing significant damage to the economy of the nation, health and safety of people worldwide."


Mr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization said, "While the movement of people has been severely restricted at the borders, customs has been working tirelessly to ensure the smooth cross border movement of essential goods including medicines and medical supplies. On the other hand, we are mindful that criminal organizations could exploit the current pandemic to obtain illegal profits, hence Customs-Business Partnership in addressing together the scourge of counterfeiting and smuggling is imperative."


Hon'ble Justice Manmohan Sarin, Former Lokayukta, NCT of Delhi, Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, Judge, High Court of Delhi and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE while emphasizing the harmful effect of smuggled and counterfeit goods highlighted the importance to introduce and enhance laws related to such crimes and make the requisite deterrents to dissuade those indulging in it.


Mr Uday Shankar, President, FICCI said, "COVID-19 pandemic has not only complicated the issue of illicit trade but has made matters worse." Complimenting the role played by the Indian enforcement agencies to check the growth of illicit trade, he further said, "Atmanirbhar Bharat will not only increase share of manufacturing in the country's GDP, create job opportunities in India and drive home the value of indigenously produced goods, but will also build 'Brand India' and deter cross border illicit trade."


Mr Chetan Krishnaswamy, Vice President, Policy Public, Amazon said that Amazon invests heavily in machine learning and other systems to proactively detect and remove suspect listings. "We employ dedicated teams to operate and continually refine our anti-counterfeiting programs. In 2019, we invested over $500 million globally and have more than 8,000 employees worldwide protecting our marketplace from fraud and abuse," he added.


While smugglers and counterfeiters have tried to exploit the current situation by supplying illicit alternative of goods and products both offline and online, in India there have been a record number of seizures during the COVID-19 period. The enforcement agencies who despite the challenging situation have seized large numbers of smuggled, spurious, and counterfeit sanitizers, masks, PPE Kits, disinfectants, toiletries and cosmetics, electronic goods, cigarettes, packaged food, spices, alcohol and several other items across various states.


The two-day programme will bring together stakeholders from governments, private sector, international organisations, law enforcement agencies and civil society for a series of action-driven dialogues to combat illicit trade. Speakers from INTERPOL, WCO, UK Intellectual Property Office, TRACIT, OECD among others, along with key dignitaries from the Indian government and captains of the industry will take part in the deliberations.


FICCI CASCADE has been consistently working with relevant stakeholders focusing on the need to combat this issue. In addition, CASCADE has undertaken a nationwide campaign in combating counterfeiting and smuggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim to sensitize the people on the ill effects and involve the government at the centre and the states to deal with this challenge in the best and most effective manner.

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