2 May 2018Trademarks

Jamaica’s customs seized J$376m worth of counterfeits last year

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) seized more than J$376 million (US$3 million) worth of counterfeit goods at the nation’s ports over the course of the 2017/2018 financial year.

Albert Anderson, director of the contraband enforcement team at the JCA, disclosed the figures in a press conference, as reported by Jamaica’s Information Service.

The director said more than 98,000 pairs of shoes, 15,000 pieces of clothing, and 11,000 handbags and purses were seized, along with more than one million cigarettes and 2,000 cigars. Currently there are 14 containers at Jamaica’s ports which hold infringing items and are awaiting destruction, he added.

“The majority of Jamaicans do not recognise the damaging effects of counterfeit items, especially as it relates to clothing,” Anderson explained. He said the counterfeit trade undermines the efforts of legitimate product owners and traders, and strengthens the capacity of the black market.

Anderson said that the JCA struggles to restrict the importation of infringing items due to limitations within Jamaica’s “aged Customs Act”, and the government is currently in the process of creating new legislation “which will be more effective in treating current realities”.

For example, Anderson claimed the new act will serve as a deterrent to importers of counterfeit items by tightening the controls at Jamaica’s ports. He added that the movement of goods between legitimate importers and exporters will not be negatively affected.

New X-ray machines will be acquired for use in both airports and seaports to broaden risk management through the non-intrusive viewing of cargo, Anderson added.

At the press conference the director noted that the JCA has a working partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force which has proven to be very beneficial in the fight against illicit goods and criminal networks more broadly.

Anderson said that those involved in the sale of counterfeit products are also engaging in the trade of life-threatening items such as black mosquito coils, skin bleaching products, and fireworks.

“This is a warning to persons involved in the smuggling of contraband through the ports that it is time to cease and desist, as the penalties will become more severe and the financial gains far less attractive,” Anderson said.

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