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    Protecting Consumers - a shared responsibility

    Nasser Bakkar, Global Head of Government Affairs, De La Rue Authentication

    The global counterfeit trade is estimated to reach US$4 trillion by 2022. It has links with human trafficking and money laundering and poses a direct threat to economies and public health. Effective regulation, enforcement and robust, auditable supply chains remain the most effective response to this risk.

    “The danger presented by counterfeiting requires a collective, collaborative response.”

    Illicit trade is a serious crime and is directly linked to other crimes, including human trafficking, drug trafficking and money laundering. Illicit trade reflects negatively on the global economy and risks public health. The danger presented by counterfeiting requires a collective, collaborative response. Many countries establish a consumer protection entity to work with government and commercial stakeholders. Effective consumer protection is a shared responsibility between Government regulators, brand owners and consumers. Each has a vital role to play. Additional support can be achieved when Governments comply with international treaties and publish legislations and regulations that ensure the implementation and full compliance with these treaties.

    According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), global counterfeit trade would reach $4 trillion by 2022. The United Nations issued Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) in the form of a set of principles setting out the main characteristics of effective consumer protection legislation for assisting interested Member States in formulating and enforcing domestic and regional laws, rules and regulations that are suitable to their own economic and social and environmental circumstances. The World Health Organization – FCTC Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade which tackles the illicit trade in Tobacco products requires the availability of end-to-end Track and Trace solutions from manufacturing to distribution to the retail outlets with the intention of securing the supply chain. The solution takes the form of a Digital Tax Stamp managed by a digital platform and supported by a Consumer and Enforcement app that can identify illicit trade product with a simple scan.

    Any Consumer Protection entity should be supported by appropriate legislation and Law Enforcement. These laws are intended to prevent unlawful business and unfair practice. As an example, in the UAE, the Consumer Protection Law No. 24 of 2006 covers the general rules for consumer protection and tackles issues related to the rights of the consumer, responsibilities and liabilities of consumers, producers, and other intermediaries. This law provides a Consumer Protection platform in the form of a hotline (600-522-225) that receives complaints related to infringements of the rights of the consumers. This is in addition to a very active portal and supported by an extensive Consumer Awareness Campaign. 

    “Any Consumer Protection entity should be supported by appropriate legislation and Law Enforcement.”

    An example of Consumer Protection NGOs is the Brand Protection Group Lebanon and the Brand Owners Protection Group in the UAE. Membership includes local, regional and multinational companies and Legal Consultants. They seek the enforcement of intellectual property laws, copyright, patent, and trademark protection, and licensing laws to raise consumer awareness and protect them from counterfeits and all other forms of illicit trade.
    Brand Owners have a vital role in ensuring that their products are produced according to international quality standards and that their products reach their consumers through a safe and secured supply chain including authentication and track and trace capability. Many of these companies develop consumer awareness campaigns to help consumers differentiate between genuine and illicit products and customer support hotlines. 

    Consumers need to ensure that the verify the products and avoid being indirectly criminalized.

    Consumers need to ensure that the verify the products and avoid being indirectly criminalized. In some cases, the consumer is fully aware of his decision to buy an illicit product and this due to many reasons. A consumer is indirectly criminalized when he makes a purchase from an established retailer and pays a full normal price for an illicit product. Consumers need to make sure that they buy from a reliable source, check the price and packaging and report in case of suspicion to the Consumer Protection call centre.
    Consumer Protection remains a shared responsibility where Governments need to provide legislation and a strong judicial system to control and prosecute unlawful business and protect trademarks, Companies need to secure their supply chain and provide a reliable brand protection solution to their products and Consumers need to be able to make the right purchasing decision and avoid when possible, the sale of illicit products. 


    Email authentication@delarue.com to find out more


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