East African Business Council (EABC) has said East African states lose between 500 million US dollars and 1 billion USD dollars from counterfeit products most of which are fast-moving consumer goods.
The EABC Chief Executive Officer, John Bosco Kalisa, made the statement during the visits of the Kenyan Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) Director of Corporate, Ms Rephah Kitavi, at the council in Arusha to forge the partnership in promoting intellectual property rights in the East African Community (EAC).
“I call for a regional approach to address the challenges brought by trade in counterfeit products and the establishment of the regional institutional framework,” he said.
On her part, Ms Kitavi highlighted some of the ongoing developments, such as the establishment of a platform to register all imported brands with the aim of easily tracking counterfeit goods.
Ms Kitavi also requested the EABC support on the organisation of the 1st International Conference on Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement (ICIPPE-1) scheduled for June 20 this year.
Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have yet to fully align their national laws with the East African Community Anti-Counterfeit Bill, a regional instrument adopted in 2013.
Kenya set up the Anti-Counterfeit Agency after amending the Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008. However, the agency continues to struggle to have a real impact.
In Tanzania, the Merchandise Marks Act, in force since 2008, was amended in 2010. In Uganda, efforts to combat counterfeit goods reportedly suffered a setback in early 2018 when the government withdrew a 2015 anti-counterfeit goods bill from Parliament, arguing that existing laws were sufficient.
Besides harmonising legislation, the three countries can draw valuable lessons from neighbouring Rwanda and Ethiopia, where stringent laws have helped reduce counterfeit medicine specifically.
Meanwhile, Director of Institutional Matters and Programmes Coordination (DIMPIC), Prudence Sebahizi, from Rwanda, also paid a courtesy visit to EABC and deliberated the three matters to fast-track the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
Sebahizi pointed out the matters as first to mobilize EABC members and the entire business community to participate in the African business forum slated for April 16–19 in Cape Town, South Africa, and to continue engaging and sensitizing the business community to take advantage of the guided trade initiative.
And lastly, to work closely on promoting export development and the ACFTA adjustment fund.