WCO builds IPR enforcement capacity for Customs administrations in the Balkan Region

14 March 2022

From 2 to 3 March 2022, a World Customs Organization (WCO) sub-regional workshop on combating counterfeiting and piracy was held in Skopje, North Macedonia. The workshop would not have been possible without the valued sponsorship of the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund or Europol’s technical support.

The three-day workshop contributes to the efficient implementation of the WCO’s new Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Strategy 2020, approved by the 41st Meeting of the Enforcement Committee in March 2021, which aspires to provide an appropriate response in the current circumstances to the counterfeiting and piracy threat.

Officials from 10 Customs administrations in the Balkan Region took part in this workshop, either virtually or in person, to share good practice – in particular their risk management techniques – with a view to stopping counterfeit products at the borders; such products have a negative impact not only on innovation, research and national economies but also on the health and safety of consumers.

In her welcome address, Ms. Slavica Kutirov, Director General of the Customs Administration of North Macedonia, thanked the WCO Secretariat and Japan Customs for choosing her country to host this important event. She reiterated the commitment of North Macedonia Customs to supporting WCO activities in combating counterfeiting and piracy.

The Secretariat’s representative recalled the WCO’s theme for 2022, announced on International Customs Day, which would focus on digital transformation and data culture. He took the opportunity to urge participants to make an active contribution to real-time intelligence sharing by registering seizures of counterfeit products on the WCO’s IPR CENcomm platform.

While welcoming the success of this workshop, Mr. Satoru Hamaguchi, Director for International Technical Cooperation at Japan Customs, highlighted the importance of combating counterfeiting and piracy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the second day of the workshop, 16 right holders each gave a very dynamic and interesting presentation of the key features of their own branded products, thereby seeking to enhance Customs officers’ skills in detecting fraudulent goods and combating IPR fraud at the borders more effectively.

Finally, for the duration of the three days, the participants also had the opportunity to hold discussions with speakers and other participants on the special features and use of the WCO’s tools and instruments with a view to developing synergy in their efforts to combat the trafficking of pirated and counterfeit products at regional level more effectively.