The Namibia Customs and Excise department at the Ministry of Finance confiscated and destroyed contraband goods worth N$20 million during the current financial year.
The goods were either counterfeit or illegally imported, and were seized and destroyed in accordance with the Customs and Excise Act and other related legislations.
Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Bevan Simataa told The Villager that the value of counterfeit goods seized vary every year depending on the operations conducted. For the 2015/2016 financial year, contraband goods worth added up to the value of N$6 million as the 2014/2015 financial year has seen an estimated value of goods seized amounted up to N$14 million dollars.
“To determine the actual origin of the these products will be very difficult as counterfeiting of goods can happen even within Namibia if the ‘manufacturer’ has the right equipment, similarly even the re-production of a music CD or the downloading of a movie from an illegal website. Therefore determining the origin of counterfeit become difficult to pin down to a particular country. They can originate anywhere in the world depending on the nature of goods,” Simataa said.
Simataa said that contraband can be arms and ammunition imported without the valid import permit of that could have been smuggled into the country, similarly drugs that are controlled and for which permits are required. Counterfeited goods cover most industries ranging from shoes, perfumes, purses, shirts, jeans, caps (apparels), medicaments, spare parts to art pieces. Music and movies are normally pirated and can also cause massive financial harm to the patent right holder or copy right holders.
The Villager previously reported that in 2013-2014 an estimated street value of counterfeit goods worth N$21 million originating mostly from Asia was discovered while the estimated value in 2012-2013 was N$4.5m which showed an increase of N$17m. These counterfeit products included Cosmetics worth N$61 440.00, Shoes worth N$1500 000, Belts worth N$388 480 and Clothing amounting to N$20 000 000.
The financial impact of pirated and counterfeit goods on the economy and IPR right holder can be astronomical. If goods are illegally imported into the country their entry into the country will always be concealed from the authorities regulating them. Meanwhile, previous reports stated that contraband trade has crippled the Southern Africa Customs Union (Sacu) by N$72 million from November 2014 and March 2015.
“In the case of Customs, the intention of smuggling goods is to avoid paying taxes or reduce the amount of duties and taxes payable on them resulting in huge revenue leakage. The same can be said for wrongly declared goods during importation, the economy will suffer great loss. On the part of brand right holders, they suffer great losses in royalties. Royalties is a fee paid to the patent holder for the right to re-produce his/her product legally,” Simataa said.
Cigarette smuggling has also been a trend in Namibia and the Customs and Excise department has confiscated about 14 million fake Cigarette sticks during the 2013/2014 period, of which 80 000 was Dunhill, Remington Gold was 260 400, 1000 000 were Yuxi, and the largest smuggled amount is the Modern which was 102 70 000. The costs of curbing the influx of counterfeit products are difficult to quantify as they vary in magnitude and scope.
“Namibia Customs and Excise has invested massively in technology and capacity building especially human capital to ensure precision in identifying, interdicting, suppressing and prosecuting offenders. This is evident in the deployment of Non-Intrusive Inspection equipment (scanners), Detector Dogs and specialized training in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), drugs, contrabands to mention but a few,” Simataa noted.