The TOC Asia Container Supply Conference in Singapore, taking place 25-26 April as part of Singapore Maritime Week 2017, marks the first time that brand owners have been invited to a major maritime transport industry conference to discuss the enormous problem of counterfeit goods being transported on maritime vessels.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, about 90% of all international trade is moved around the world in more than 500 million containers on 89,000 maritime vessels. While this represents approximately 90% of all international trade, UNODC says that less than 2% of these containers are inspected to verify their contents. This results in enormous opportunities for criminal networks to abuse this critical supply chain channel to transport huge volumes of counterfeit products affecting virtually every product sector. According to a recent OECD/EUIPO report, US$ 461 billion in counterfeit goods moved through international trade in 2013, with almost 10% being shipped on maritime vessels.
To tackle this issue, brand owners and representatives from the international shipping industry joined forces in November 2016 in signing a historic declaration of intent (DOI) aimed at preventing the maritime transport of counterfeit goods. The Declaration of Intent to Prevent the Maritime Transport of Counterfeit Goods, marked the first time the global shipping industry and brand owners made a public commitment to work together to stop the transport of counterfeit goods on shipping vessels.
Initial signatories included the leading global shipping firms and freight forwarders and ten major multinational brand manufacturers, along with the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), and the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) and Commercial Crime Service (CCS). More transporters, brand owners and their industry associations are expected to join the voluntary initiative as awareness grows.
This TOC Asia panel will include some of the initial signatory companies discussing the public commitment they have made to work together to stop the transport of counterfeit goods on shipping vessels, the steps being taken and what more can be done collaboratively to stop the shipment of fake goods.
Maersk Line and CMA CGM Group, two of the largest global transport companies with approximately half of all global shipping, and Kuehne and Nagel and Expeditors, two of the leading freight forwarding and logistics companies with total revenues of more than US$ 27 billion, were the first in their industries to sign the Declaration. Ten members of BASCAP were the first brand owners to sign the Declaration. These members represent hundreds of global brands with combined sales of more than US$350 billion.
“The TOC Asia panel is another important step in the commitment of vessel owners, transport service providers and brand owners to work together to eliminate counterfeits from maritime trade routes,” said William Dobson, BASCAP Deputy Director. “The discussion of this important topic at a major meeting of industry leaders involved in the maritime supply chain will help build awareness of the issues and the power of collaboration in stopping the transport of fake goods.”
The panel will include representatives from Maersk Line, BP, PMI and BASCAP: Michael Jul Hansen, Customs and Trade Compliance Lead for Maersk Line; Thomas McNutt, PMI’s manager of Illicit Trade Strategies & Prevention Asia and Toe Su Aung, senior policy advisor for BASCAP.
“We are proud to be among the first in our industry to sign the Declaration and to be part of this historic panel,” said Michael Jul Hansen, Customs and Trade Compliance Lead for Maersk Line. “Maersk has been a leader in taking steps to prevent the use of our vessels for the shipment of counterfeit and other illicit goods, and our participation on this panel is another demonstration of our intent to do everything we can to ensure our ships are counterfeit free.”
“It is critical that brand owners, shipping line, freight forwarders and others involved in the supply chain work together to tackle the issue of illicit trade and to stop the abuse of the supply chain by organized criminal networks,” said Thomas McNutt, PMI’s manager of Illicit Trade Strategies & Prevention Asia. “Following the Declaration of Intent, this panel is another important step in strengthening this cross-industry cooperation. Having such a discussion as part of Singapore Maritime Week, with the leadership support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, further demonstrates the importance of this issue across the supply chain.”
The Declaration is a direct reaction to the concerns of brand owners that vessels transporting their legitimate products were also being exploited by criminal networks to transport fake versions. This phenomenon was summarized in a landmark report on the Role and Responsibilities of Intermediaries: Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy in the Supply Chain, published in 2015 by BASCAP. The report highlights how today’s complex global supply chains are being infiltrated by criminals, allowing the entry of counterfeit and pirated goods. The report presents recommendations for stopping this infiltration across the key intermediary channels, including transport operators.
“We have been extremely pleased by the cooperative and collaborative response from the transport industry,” said Meena Sayal, director of Unilever’s Global Brand Protection team and chair of BASCAP’s Vessels Working Group. “BASCAP member companies, including Unilever, have been frustrated in seeing that the same transport companies that we use to ship our products around the world are being abused by criminals to distribute fake versions of our products.
“We recognize this is a new and complicated issue for many in the transport industry, but appreciate the unanimous recognition–from all of the companies that we have talked to—that there is a problem and more can be done to solve it,” Ms Sayal continued. “The Declaration is a direct result of that dialogue and represents an important first step in this process and this panel is one more step forward with the joint work required.”
“The next step is to move forward with discussions with our maritime industry partners to develop specific projects, focusing initially on promoting the Declaration to others in the industry and other brand owners, and developing a detailed series of measures on improved information sharing and other initiatives suggested in the document,” Ms Sayal said.