Cargo Must Actively Combat Counterfeit Goods - TIACA Insists

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) demands greater cooperation in the fight against counterfeit trade. According to an estimate presented by the OECD more than €218 billion ($250 bn) in Intellectual Property Rights infringing goods, pass illegally across borders each year. The worrying news is that the volume increases month after month. It’s time for the air freight industry to not only recognize the problem but take action to fight these fraudulent intrusions.

From customs watchdogs at Dusseldorf Airport confiscated counterfeit goods  -  courtesy customs authority
From customs watchdogs at Dusseldorf Airport confiscated counterfeit goods - courtesy customs authority

TIACA rings the alarm bell! Goods that infringe intellectual property rights (“IPR infringing goods”) account for a growing portion of international trade, and present challenges for air cargo operators in many markets, warns the organization in an urgent appeal to take action. Intermediaries, such as air cargo operators, in the supply chain of counterfeit goods have a shared responsibility in the fight to curb and abate this global problem, along with rights holders and customs and other authorities, urges TIACA.

Spreading criminal action
How pressing this topic has become meanwhile is seen in a recently published report on EU Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. It states that in 2014, IPR infringing items with health and safety concerns accounted for 28.6% of total detained goods by EU customs authorities.

A year earlier, EU customs authorities confiscated 36 million counterfeit products worth over €760 million ($870 mn) at airports, harbours and the block’s borders. The vast majority of illegal goods came from China (66 percent), followed by Hong Kong (13%). Turkey leads the list of countries from which most faked perfumes and cosmetics originated, with Egypt being the greatest sinner in food fraud. 

In its appeal to tackle this fast spreading global problem that tends to distort trade and harm manufacturers of legally produced goods severely, TIACA supports the close cooperation in a multifaceted approach including all players involved in supply chain matters.


Cargo is not a law enforcement agency, stresses TIACA
Regarding the role of the air cargo industry in fighting counterfeit activities, the association advocates a close cooperation with government agencies, customs authorities and rights holders. However, TIACA reminds that airlines, ground handlers or forwarders are not law enforcement agencies and should not be expected to do the job of these agencies. That is a role reserved for the agencies in charge, reads the release.

Concurrently, TIACA favours an intensive exchange of information together with educational programs between all parties involved to get a better insight and recognize illicit trade activities. 
Establishing round tables
“The best way to find comprehensive solutions to the IPR Infringement problem is to bring rights holders, regulators, and service providers together for a working dialog,” recommends TIACA. Their release further states: “Since customs administrations are responsible for enforcement at borders, we suggest customs take the leading role in bringing these groups together. Examples of potential solutions include the sharing of information between the three parties and account-based clearances built on trusted trader programs.”

Finally, TIACA stresses that the infringement of intellectual property rights not only produces economic damages but, more importantly, can pose threats to health and safety.

Heiner Siegmund

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