IPR, Health and Safety Programme

The impact of counterfeiting and piracy on the global economy is becoming more severe every year. The role of Customs in combating counterfeiting is very important to prevent unfair competition and guarantee equal market access to its actors. Moreover, Customs carries out an essential function in the fiscal area, but as import duties fall, its mission of protecting society and ensuring compliance with trade rules is assuming an increasing significance. Many counterfeit products expose the public to serious health and safety risks. According to the Illicit Trade Report, there have been numerous cases of pharmaceutical products and prescription medicines manufactured from poisonous or inferior constituents or containing no active ingredient, auto parts and toys which do not meet safety standards, aircraft parts assembled from counterfeit spare parts, food, shampoo and household cleaning products containing dangerous ingredients etc. These counterfeit products may lead to anything from light injuries to lethal consequences in the worst case scenario.

The IPR, Health and Safety Programme starts from the premise that nothing can be achieved in isolation. Therefore, the WCO is active in delivering extensive capacity building actions, coordinating efforts of its Members and related international organizations, and working with the private sector and developing various enforcement tools.

Capacity building segment includes accreditation of experts, trained by the WCO, organizing regional and national seminars for the operational Customs officers and conducting diagnostic missions that include the review of national legislation, analysis of country-specific risks, engagement of rights holders and national competent authorities etc.

Coordinating efforts of all stakeholders through simultaneous enhanced border controls is a key element of the Programme. Such operations allow to achieve multiple objectives, such as sharing information in real time among different countries, providing Customs officers with latest tools and instruments for more efficient risk analysis and targeting, enhancing cooperation with the rights holders, learning more about the phenomenon of counterfeiting flows and concealment methods.

Partnership with the private sector plays an important role as well. Customs is able to enhance the effectiveness of its operations by having real-time access to the commercial data and strategic information needed to detect counterfeit goods. For their part, legitimate businesses benefit enormously from working in partnership with a Customs administration which, through having a greater awareness of the needs of business, is in a better position to facilitate legitimate trade.

In 2010 the WCO developed the Interface Public Members (IPM), an online and mobile anti-counterfeiting app serving as a real time secure communication hub between Customs officers on the ground and the private sector enabling the exchange of information to intercept counterfeit goods.

Finally, where international co-operation is concerned the WCO and its Members work closely with such organizations as GS1Union des Fabricants (UNIFAB), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), Asociación Nacional para la Defensa de la Marca (ANDEMA), Les Entreprises du Médicament (LEEM), Customs Intellectual Property Information Center (CIPIC), Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) among others in order to avoid duplication and ensure that the efforts of all the stakeholders come together in pursuit of a collective cause – the fight against counterfeiting and piracy – which lies at the heart of the economic, commercial and social preoccupations of States.

E-learning course