GRA won’t agree to time-consuming cargo inspections for counterfeit goods

...Businessmen will be uneasy too

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) announcement that it intends to lobby the Guyana Revenue Authority for more rigorous checks of incoming cargo with a view to finding and confiscating counterfeit goods will probably not meet with a great deal of success, a Customs source told Stabroek Business on Wednesday.

The GMSA earlier this week issued a media statement in which it alluded to “a fast-growing epidemic of counterfeit products being sold to unsuspecting Guyanese” and declared that it would be engaging the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) “to address complaints of [importers of counterfeit items] under-invoicing their shipments, and to request that the thorough screening applied to outgoing containers be similarly applied to incoming cargo, which would help to identify the importers of counterfeit products.”

But the Customs source said that any additional searches and inspections on wharves that would “further hold up the flow” of incoming goods was likely to meet with “resistance” from importers who already complain about the length of time it takes to clear goods landed in Georgetown. The source added that he doubted the GMSA had “the clout” to persuade Customs to further slowdown the process at the wharves.

“Not too long ago the monitoring agencies like Food and Drugs tried to persuade Customs to work with them on the issue of illegal imports. It was not my impression that Customs was keen to add another level of inspection to what it already had on its plate,” the source added.

In its release the GMSA said it was once again urging government to “adequately resource these two departments (Food and Drugs and the Guyana National Bureau of Standards) to allow them to police the local marketplace more thoroughly to find and destroy counterfeit products.” This newspaper recalls the abortive previous efforts of the Food and Drugs Administration to have its inspection capacity strengthened.

When Stabroek Business spoke with Head of the Food and Drugs Department Marlon Cole earlier this week he said Guyana had good reason to worry about the proliferation of counterfeit products, “particularly counterfeit drugs.” Stabroek Business was unable to secure a comment from the GMSA regarding its plans for engaging the GRA on the issue of more rigorous inspection of incoming cargo.

Counterfeit consumer goods are goods that infringe trademark rights by displaying a trademark which is either identical to a protected trademark or by using an identification mark which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from the original trademark.

Over the years trade in counterfeit goods has become global. According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau (CIB) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), counterfeit goods make up 5% to 7% of world trade.

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