A year ago, PMI, together with eight other global brand owners and five of the world’s largest shipping companies (including the world’s largest shipping lines and freight forwarders), signed the Declaration of Intent to prevent the Maritime Transport of Counterfeit Goods. This was an initiative originally proposed by Business Action to Stop Piracy and Counterfeiting (BASCAP), which first led to a report entitled Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries: Fighting counterfeiting and piracy in the supply chain issued back in 2015, and then grew into this historical Declaration in 2016.
Why was this a historical moment?
Because for the first time ever, we could see brand owners from diverse sectors coming together and joining forces with global transport leaders around the same table, to fight together against the abuse of the global supply chain.
According to UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) containerized transport of goods accounts for around 90% of total international trade. However, less than 2% of these containers are ever inspected to verify their contents. This has allowed criminals to exploit container vessels as a channel for transporting large quantities of counterfeit products or other smuggled goods. This is a serious issue hurting Governments, destroying the reputation of well-known brands and fooling consumers across the world.
How can the problem be stopped?
The only way to stop it is to work together across the sectors involved to combine our efforts, experience and know-how. The Declaration has allowed exactly that. Over the past year, the signatories have been working together on concrete action plans to bring tighter controls and secure their global supply chains.
One of the most significant achievements is the “Know your customer” policy, which has been agreed upon and is currently being adopted by all member companies. With this policy in place, logistics operators will be required to know exactly who their customers are. This will help them avoid the risk from being exposed to illicit product and to be abused by criminal networks.
As we mark the first anniversary of the Declaration of Intent, additional multinational companies have decided to join the initiative (see press release here). This is a clear sign that our joint efforts to fight organized crime and disrupt their illicit trade routes are growing ever stronger. There is still a lot to achieve, but we can be sure that we have created solid grounds to introduce supply chain control measures, which could in the future become standards implemented at global level across industries.
Written by Tomas Garcia-Lomas