12 March 2021
Director General, Phil Lewis says that the UK runs the risk of seeing significant growth in counterfeit goods, illicit trade and money laundering, when the Government introduces regional free ports to the UK.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the location of eight new free ports earlier this month and it is hoped they will help to generate trade and much needed employment in areas around Liverpool, Southampton, the Port of Tilbury, the Port of Sheerness and Prestwick Airport.
On the day of the publication of the Anti-Counterfeit Group (ACG) annual report, Mr Lewis explained that he is deeply worried that criminals will seek to see misuse of these free ports and this could result in an explosion of illicit trade.
He said “Free ports amplify illicit trade because they sit outside the home country’s jurisdiction. Often, they are lightly regulated which appeals to transnational crime groups and illegal activities.
"Unless enforcement and policing are strong, free ports can become transit points and distribution centres for counterfeit goods. Freeports have been found to facilitate the export of fakes by concealing and disguising consignments in mixed shipments accompanied by false transportation documents.”
He said “businesses need assurance there will be effective detection systems at these new freeports, including specialised officers and modern technology to assist surveillance, inspections and preventative customs controls. Without it, international criminals will take control of our borders.”
“The global trade in counterfeit goods is now worth more than $509 billion and it is destroying businesses and threatening the safety of consumers daily. This years’ annual report shows the scale and impact of counterfeit goods and the collaborative work necessary to tackle this insidious trade across the UK, Europe and internationally.”
What are free ports?
Also known as free trade zones, free ports are effectively duty-free areas, set up to facilitate lawful, cross-border trade by offering storage and distribution facilities to help smooth the export, transit and shipment of goods and services around the world.
In 2015, it was widely reported that well over 3,500 free zones existed around the world, employing around 66 million people and generating over EUR 365 billion (USD 500 billion) in added trade.
Many supporters believe freeports will boost manufacturing and generate more jobs and investment across the UK.
ACG represents more than 3,000 brands affected by this influx of fakes into the UK and delivers an international network of information, advice and contacts on all aspects of IP protection. Working with Government and law enforcement agencies since 1980, ACG is focused on providing an effective and sustained response to counterfeiting.
Membership with the ACG is the best way to work with government and enforcement bodies to protect your brand. Our Roadshows and training days help you reach out to police, trading standards and border force officers and tell them about your genuine products.