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Stakeholders hold multi-agency forum on the IPR recordation system

The Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) together with the Boarder Management Secretariat (BMS) have held a partner agency’s preparatory meeting on the impending implementation of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Recordation System for all imports come January 1st, 2023.

The Partner Government Agency forum which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria alongside the Interior Ministry appreciated the task to combat illicit trade and promoting IPRs.

Kuria noted that counterfeiting, which he considers an organized crime, not only harms consumers but is also a massive blow to the economy of any country through the direct effect on government tax revenues and the adverse impact on employment experienced across the business supply chains.

He added that perpetrators are known to operate in organized criminal networks and control other criminal activities like smuggling, tax evasion which deprives the government of revenues for development, terrorism support and human trafficking.

In a speech read on his behalf by Director State Department for Industrialization Hezekiah Bunde, the CS revealed that fake products are manufactured in unregulated conditions, using low-quality materials, and do not go through mandatory quality checks and thus pose a serious threat to the health, safety and well-being of consumers.

Kuria added that manufacturers of counterfeit products, by not obeying regulations, also pollute the environment by particularly disposing of harmful chemicals and toxic gases to the environment.

“Rampant occurrence of counterfeiting and illicit trade dampens the spirit of the business communities. Intellectual property theft stifles innovation and deters honest entrepreneurs from investing in product market development whereas foreign direct investors become disinterested in countries that do not protect their IP,” stated Kuria,

He added that many brands are experiencing tremendous losses in form of lost revenue, consumer dissatisfaction, and irreparable damages to the brand reputation.

The CS further appreciated the collaboration of all the multi-agencies for their joint enforcement in the war to eradicate illicit trade saying that anti-counterfeiting war needs awareness and the use of advanced technologies.

“I call upon all the stakeholders including IP rights holders and their agents and importers to support ACA in leading the way against illicit trade and protection of IPRs even as the government through stakeholder engagement, review the necessary laws and policies, provide funding to enhance the capacity for aggressive public education and campaign to nip in the bud the demand for counterfeit products by consumers,” said Kuria.

At the same time outgoing Interior Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Karanja Kibicho reiterated that illicit trade has remained a constant threat to the economic stability of the country and that counterfeiters circumvent the laid down regulations and requirements which endangers the health and safety of consumers and promote unfair competition among traders through tax evasion.

“By entrenching a culture of innovation and collaboration, ACA has managed to come up with programs to eliminate counterfeiting from the source and all these efforts will build synergies to promote foreign investment in the country,” said Kibicho in a speech read on his behalf by Moffat Kangi, Principal Administrative Secretary in the Interior Ministry.

The PS noted that the reduced effects of counterfeiting also translates to competitiveness of locally produced goods bridging the gaps between imports and exports that will ultimately enhance economic growth in the country.

He stated that the Border Control and Operations Coordination Committee (BCOCC) members in the Commission established in 2014 under the Security Laws Amendment Act comprises various Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“The Committee has invested resources towards established border management and joint operation centers, enhancement of security and boosting of more trade through the opening up of more points of entry and exit border points,” Kibicho disclosed.

He added that Border Management Secretariat (BMS) has mobilized the border migrant committees such as KRA, KEBS and other agencies to assist ACA to perform sensitization around the border.

In her remarks ACA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Flora Mutahi insisted that counterfeiting is the largest form of illicit trade stressing: “Nearly 80 percent of importation is counterfeit therefore, I appeal to all stakeholders and security agencies to support, partner, train and walk with us for a free counterfeit Kenya,” said Mutahi.

By Michael Omondi

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