The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) yesterday announced the formation of Australians to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (AUSCAP).
“AUSCAP is bringing business together as a united front to engage with State and Federal government,” said Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director.
“Today, Australia has been recognised by the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit as the best country in Asia with respect to its illicit trade environment.”
Zimmerman said AUSCAP was formed because businesses are seeking protection of their goods and intellectual property, while consumers need protection from counterfeit and fake goods.
“The Government, especially the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, deserve credit for their insight in establishing the Australian Border Force (ABF) as an agency with a holistic perspective and powers across the border continuum,” he said.
According to Zimmerman, against these high scores, Australia performed lower on transparency and trade score, including availability of track and trade services, and perception of the level of genuine engagement with stakeholders.
“The commitment of the Government through the Border Force Industry Summit to be held again later this month and Industry Engagement Strategies released last year are a very positive step in this regard. Implementation of the measures agreed will be key going forward,” he said.
“The days when only luxury goods were counterfeited, or when unauthorised music CDs and movie DVDs were sold only on street corners are long past. Today, counterfeiters are producing fake foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, electronics and electrical supplies, auto parts and everyday household products.”
He added copyright pirates have also created multi-million dollar networks to produce, transport and sell their unauthorised copies of music, video and software.
AUSCAP will lead a delegation of members and concerned businesses to Canberra later this year to discuss how Australia can continue to improve on its region-leading illicit trade environment.
The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) supports the ARA’s anti-counterfeit initiative.
“As the voice of the retailers and suppliers of Australia’s convenience industry, the AACS is especially concerned with the illicit trade of tobacco, which has an enormous impact on the small businesses in Australia who responsibly retail legal tobacco products,” AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said.
“Recent high profile seizures of contraband tobacco at our shores highlights the enormity of the problem and the fact that, due to the regulatory environment for legal tobacco in Australia, we’ve become one of the most lucrative markets for illicit tobacco in the world.
“Our police and customs officials do a tremendous job of cracking down on illicit products. However, we need to support this good work with proper regulations. Endless excise hikes on legal tobacco play directly into the hands of these gangs and makes the job of our officials so much harder.”