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Counterfeit Goods Hurt Business

Herald Reporter
Zimbabwe has become a haven of counterfeit and smuggled goods despite efforts to curb this illicit trade, an anti-counterfeit watchdog has said. In a statement to mark World Counterfeit Day today, Mrs Betty Mapwashike, the executive director of the watchdog, said the market continues to thrive across all sectors of industry.

“Trade in counterfeit, illicit and fake goods has become a formidable threat to businesses, consumers, Intellectual Property (IP) and the national economy. “It undermines local investments because it creates an unequal playing field for the legitimate businesses and weakens efforts to attract foreign direct investment,” she said.

This year’s theme is “Zimbabwe is open for genuine business . . . not counterfeits!” Mrs Mapwashike said lack of strong copyright and Intellectual property rights protection had resulted in the emergence of a shadow economy that thrives on copyright and IP theft.

“These counterfeiters do not pay any form of taxes to the Government but siphon money into the black market and also takes away employment from the formal economy. “The alternative form of employment is in unsafe, unhygienic, unregulated selling points and underground factories which manufacture products that are equally unsafe, unregulated that endanger the health and safety of consumers,” she said.

In 2013 the total employment losses globally due to counterfeit and piracy stood at 2 to 2,6 million jobs and in 2022 it is expected to rise to 4,2 to 5,4 million jobs. Mrs Mapwashike said Zimbabwe has the potential to resuscitate its industry and become a manufacturing hub but illegal trade in counterfeit products, copyright and intellectual property crime and lack of will power to combat this evil menace, porous borders and inadequate enforcement mechanisms will continue to stall the government’s vision to be a middle income economy by 2030.

She said Anti-Counterfeit Watchdog together with its partners was committed to seeing robust approach taken to fight counterfeit to the economy and public health and safety. Mrs Mapwashike also called on genuine brand owners and other stakeholders to partner with Anti-Counterfeit Watchdog to conscientise all stakeholders on the importance of fighting counterfeit, fake and illicit products.

The Anti-Counterfeit and Fake Foods Watchdog aka Anti-Counterfeit Watchdog is a non-profit organisation registered under a Deed of Trust in March 2019 to rally both the business community and consumers to create a formidable voice for both the consumers and genuine business brands in the fight against copyright and Intellectual property (IP) crime including counterfeit, fake and illicit goods.

Some of its objectives include massive public awareness campaign countrywide on the importance of respecting intellectual property and preventing counterfeiting, infringement and piracy of all products as well as educating the public and disseminate information about counterfeiting, piracy and the hazardous impact of counterfeit products on consumers.

It also aims at protecting consumers from the proliferation of counterfeits locally, regionally and internationally. And to protect brand owners and legitimate businesses by facilitating training and anti-counterfeit techniques and robust enforcement mechanisms to combat and ensure total eradication of  copyright and intellectual property (IP) crimes through effective partnership with business, government and law enforcement agencies regionally and internationally. Some of the products affected by counterfeit include foodstuffs, beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic as well as medical, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and medical devices.

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