By Courtney Trenwith
Dubai is one of the world’s worst contributors to the multi-billion dollar counterfeit goods industry, Brand Owners’ Protection Group says
Dubai must work to clean up its reputation as one of the world’s worst contributors to the multi-billion dollar counterfeit goods industry, a local expert has warned ahead of a two-day forum to discuss the “serious” issue.
The emirate’s position as an international trading thoroughfare had made it a major source of fake goods to places such as Europe, where the European Union considers Dubai to be its second largest “supplier” of counterfeit products behind China.
Brand Owners’ Protection Group chairman Omar Shteiwi said while the goods were not manufactured in Dubai, the emirate had a responsibility to identify and intercept such items when they travelled through its ports.
“Part of the problem is [that Dubai needs] more screening and part of it is [the need for stronger] public-private partnerships,” Shteiwi told Arabian Business.
“[Dubai needs to] implement a different methodology of intelligence, more cooperation among other customs authorities and [harsher] penalties on counterfeiters. Everything, we need to do more.”
But Shteiwi has been making similar calls for years with little increase in customers staff or resources.
A new draft anti-commercial fraud law that allows for higher penalties for counterfeiting has been endorsed by the Dubai government, but lawyers say the cost of legal action by brand owners is often more than the damage caused by the copycat goods.
Shteiwi said the issue was escalating and was even dangerous in some cases, such as counterfeit medicines and electrical goods.
The upcoming World Expo in 2020 would put added pressure on the emirate to stamp out counterfeit goods, he said.
“Now is the right time to recognise we are facing a serious problem in terms of counterfeit and we have to take it in a serious, transparent, trustworthy way,” Shteiwi said.
“It’s not an issue of somebody buying a fake Gucci bag or luxury watch, it’s now starting to [affect] everyone. Fake medicines [and] electrical appliances – the dangers are really serious.
“This is a bigger problem than the Ministry of Economy or Dubai Customs. This is becoming a serious problem for all the governments worldwide.
“The private sector also needs to do more in terms of public awareness, we need to do something with the supply chain... they need to bear responsibility for carrying counterfeit items. Maybe the traders operating in the Jebel Ali Free Zone or importing goods into the country need to make an undertaking [that they will not import counterfeit goods].”
The Brand Owners’ Protection Group and Dubai Economic Council will host the two-day forum on Wednesday and Thursday, with participants including businesses, stakeholders and industry experts from Asia, the Middle East, US and Europe.
Shteiwi said it aimed to produce a declaration outlining the steps that Dubai needed to take to combat counterfeiting.
I'm torn. I don't like fake goods, I don't feel that it is fair to the original manufacturers and I agree that we don't want to be known as a port of call for embellished goods but man....I really enjoy the karama experience.