UN drive to raise awareness on fake goods trade
Vienna, January 16, 2014
A new global campaign by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was launched recently to raise awareness among consumers of the $250 billion a year illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods.
The campaign, 'Counterfeit: Don't buy into organised crime,' is aimed at informing consumers that buying counterfeit goods could be funding organised criminal groups, putting consumer health and safety at risk and contributes to other ethical and environmental concerns.
It is centred around a new Public Service announcement, which was be launched on the Nasdaq screen in New York's Times Square and aired on several international television stations.
The campaign urges consumers to 'look behind' counterfeit goods to boost understanding of the serious repercussions of this illicit trade.
With no legal regulation and very little recourse, consumers are at risk from unsafe and ineffective products and faulty counterfeit goods can lead to injury and, in some cases, death.
Items which are being counterfeited include tyres, brake pads and airbags, aeroplane parts, electrical consumer goods, baby formula and children's toys.
The sale of fraudulent medicines from East Asia and the Pacific to South-East Asia and Africa alone amounts to some $5 billion per year.
Fraudulent medicines include ordinary painkiller, antihistamines, ‘lifestyle’ medicines like those taken for weight loss and life-saving medicines for treating cancer and heart disease.
While they have been found to contain no active ingredients, at their worst they can contain unknown and potentially harmful chemicals.
Meanwhile, a wide range of ethical issues can also be overlooked when considering the impact of counterfeiting.
Labour exploitation is also an aspect of producing counterfeit goods, with low paid workers facing safety and security concerns with little or no benefits and unregulated conditions.
The problem of migrant smuggling is also further exacerbated by the counterfeit business, with reports that a number of those smuggled are coerced into selling counterfeit goods to pay off smuggling debts.
From an environmental standpoint, counterfeiting poses a significant challenge - with no regulations in place, there is a real chance that harmful toxic dyes, chemicals, and unknown components in counterfeit electrical goods are not disposed of properly, leading to pollution.
UNODC's executive director Yury Fedotov said: "In comparison to other crimes such as drug trafficking, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods present a low-risk/high-profit opportunity for criminals.
“Counterfeiting feeds money laundering activities and encourages corruption. There is also evidence of some involvement or overlap with drug trafficking and other serious crimes." - TradeArabia News Service