Free trade, policing laxity exacerbate counterfeiting

Free trade, policing laxity exacerbate counterfeiting

In this respect, free trade is expected to result in increased welfare for all those participating. But some greedy businesses have been misusing the opportunity by introducing counterfeits and substandard goods into the market plunging the nation into massive losses of billion of shillings.

The worsening situation calls for concerted efforts to deal with the problem of counterfeits, failure to which the economy will live to suffer the consequences. Apart from applying more scientific ways, it is held that the more closely involvement of the wananchi in finding a permanent solution, as they are the most affected, is mention to be an important strategy in curbing the problem.

Available figures show that between 30 and 40 percent of imported products into the country are counterfeit, albeit the deployment of great strategies by the authorities to curb the vice. Last month, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) adopted the pre- inspection mechanism to curb the introduction of counterfeits into the country.

Three firms with a local track record in import verification--the Swiss based SGS Ltd, Bureau Veritas of France and Intertek International of the UK will do the work. Of recent also, the Bar code technology has been cited as one of the most effective mechanism in the war against counterfeit products in the local market which incurs the nation loss of billion of shillings.

“There is need for interventions geared at formulating a policy or enacting regulations to guide importers in order that all goods entered into the country bear the code,” said Ms Fatuma Kange, the bar code programme coordinator in an interview. Arrangements could be made between importers and manufacturers to ensure that all goods destined for Tanzania bear the code, she added.

For example, it is estimated that the government loses between 600bn/- and 900bn/- annually due to tax evasions that are related to counterfeit and substandard goods. At regional level, the East African states lose about 500 million US dollars (about 700bn/-) in tax revenues annually due to the rampant trade in counterfeits goods. Globally, trade in fake goods has grown by about 10,000 per cent in the last two decades to over 600 billion US dollars (780tr/-) each year.

Developed and developing nations have successfully incorporated the technology in almost all items circulating in their markets. With the bar code, she said it is easy to trace the importer and manufacturer in case counterfeits are introduced into the market.

She said the GS1 (TZ) National Limited would later this month hold stakeholders forum that table among other issues the significance of formulating a policy to guide incorporation of the bar code to all imported or locally made goods as one of the means of curbing counterfeits in the market. Some of the key stakeholders expected to take part in the forum are the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).

She said for example, with the bar code technology, tax evasion chances are reduced thus increasing revenue collections. Also with she said the technology could be a significant instrument in promoting the ‘Buy Tanzania Goods Initiative’ with the aim of boosting locally manufactured goods and contribution to the economy.

Nearly 90 companies with about 1,303 different items have already been branded with the bar code technology and more firms
have expressed desire to adopt the technology. The nation has been losing huge business opportunities for lack of own bar code. The technology system will facilitate proper record keeping about the production chain and therefore rectifying problem areas.

According to experts, getting own bar code is indeed a big step towards improving the business environment and getting rid of the inconveniences that businesses were facing. It will enable consumers to know the country of origin, production system used, product traceability as well as quality and safety of the product.

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