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  • +263786731403 , +2630717403610

Zim Losing The Counterfeit Products War: Local Analyst

The unchecked growth of counterfeit (fake) products dumped in the Zimbabwean market has reached alarming levels. Although the country’s official import bill shows that imports into the country have slightly eased to $5.2 billion for the past 2 years from the $6.26 billion of 2015, the quality of the imports leaves a lot to be desired for the society and the economy. A closer look at branded merchandise displayed in the streets, at flea markets and most retail outlets shows the magnitude of this catastrophe which has been left to develop in the local market.

Counterfeit or fake products appear in virtually everything from foodstuffs, electronics, drugs, musical CDs, kitchen wear, clothes, footwear, handbags, perfumes, machine and auto parts, vehicles, cellphones and accessories, toys, chemicals and tools. The major sources of these products are China, Dubai (UAE), Singapore and South Africa which account for over 70% of the Zimbabwean import bill. These products are imported day and night in containers or disguised as cargo in-transit to neighboring countries. Asian producers take advantage of popular global brands such as Sony, Philips, Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, Adidas, Nike, L’Oreal, Giorgio Armani, Honda, Colgate, Rolex and Gucci¬† to mention a few. Some counterfeits look original to a level where consumers cannot tell the difference even in broad daylight.

What makes product counterfeiting a lost war in Zimbabwe is that customs is happy to collect a few cents on the declared fake merchandise than enforce laws that control importation of such merchandise. The unrestrained growth of counterfeit products is an enormous drain on the Zimbabwean economy as foreign currency is lost on poor quality merchandise that does not fit the intended purpose especially products intended for commercial use such as vehicles, electrical goods, spares, tools and equipment. Besides posing health and safety risks to the poor consumers, the products come at a cost of job losses as local producers cannot cope. Buying fake goods is not a bargain. Fake products are not made to the same standards and typically have to be replaced more often which ultimately costs more. The government is further deprived of tax revenues as counterfeit goods have very low commercial values on the bill of entry as compared to original products. Counterfeits create unfair competition for local artisans and legitimate businesses that support the economy through paying taxes to the government and employing thousands of qualified personnel.

According to a 2017 report published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is worth over $500 billion dollars annually with U.S. (20%), Italian (15%), French (12%) and Swiss (12%) brands being the hardest hit by Asian counterfeit producers. The exploitation linked to counterfeit goods starts with the manufacturer and continues up to the end of the supply chain in developing countries such as Zimbabwe.