Agency urged to toughen laws on counterfeit in the manufacturing industry
By Soko Directory Team / July 21, 2017
By Amina Faki
The Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) has been asked to toughen laws and penalties on counterfeiting as it poses a real threat to the manufacturing industry.
“The main challenge has been the poor inter-agency collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the fight against counterfeiting and illicit trade in totality as every government enforcement agency in East Africa Community (EAC) has its own mandate and hence works in silos in delivering on its specific core mandate,” reads part of the newly published EAC Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Regime Study.
The study carried out by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in partnership with Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), aimed at enhancing regional protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) notes that “ In some partner states, lack of policy and legislative and institutional framework is the cause of the difficulties faced in enforcement.”
Despite numerous legislative and regulatory efforts to streamline commerce in the East African Community, illicit trade continues to plague the region.
“Some of the main challenges remain circumvention, infringement and violation of laws, regulations, licensing regimes, taxation systems and embargoes. Often times the issue of illicit trade in the individual EAC partner states is not treated with severity as it deserves.
One of the most prevalent forms of illicit trade today is counterfeiting and piracy,” Flora Mutahi the Chair lady, KAM.
Counterfeit trade poses social and economic challenges. Economically, counterfeit trade has seen most of the innovators loss their income, thus discouraging the growth of local entrepreneurship.
“Counterfeiting and piracy poses serious socio-economic challenges nationally, regionally and globally. The vice undermines the concept of a free and open market, fundamental to enhancement of innovation and creativity, competitiveness, increased investment, job creation and improved economic situation in Kenya and the EAC partner states. It also undermines industries in the region, poses health risks to consumers, sabotages tourism, stunts innovation and breeds lawlessness,” added Mutahi.
Kenya has the largest counterfeit market in East Africa, with China and India supplying the majority of counterfeit items into the Kenya.
Currently in the country, counterfeiting has affected the manufacturing sector seriously in terms of cutting down their revenue.
A recent report by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers shows that 40 percent of manufacturing firms in Kenya cite counterfeit product as a threat to their market share.
“Illicit trade affects manufacturing value-add industries in Kenya and the EAC, erodes the market share of genuine manufactured products, threatens expansion and survival of industries and hampers creation of job opportunities,” noted Phyllis Wakiaga, KAM Chief Executive during the launch.
ACA Executive Director, Mr. Elema Halake, noted that the Agency is working together with other organisations to win Kenya’s fight on counterfeits.
“While it is true our first strategic plan certainly did not address all these concerns ahundred per cent, we are now determined and committed to fighting the vice with the help of our second strategic plan, with a promise to see noticeable change in five years,” said the newly-appointed ACA Executive Director, Elema Halake.
“The Agency’s second strategic plan aims to strengthen our fight against counterfeits. Rich legal and policy frameworks and public awareness play a key role in pushing our agenda, in turn, creating a globally competitive industry,” added Mr. Halake.
Anti-counterfeit Act, 2008 establishes the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (hereinafter referred to as the “Agency”) which is a body corporate with perpetual succession and mandated to administer anti-counterfeiting policy and law in Kenya. The Agency has three main functions and mandates. These are first, to enforce the provisions of the Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008, to educate the public on counterfeiting issues and finally to combat counterfeiting in Kenya.
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