Rabab Sikandar,

Director General IPR Enforcement. Pakistan Customs

Together with the International Community, the Pakistan Customs is celebrating the International Customs Day on 26 January 2021. As this year’s theme suggests, the ever expanding role of Customs now includes recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain. We recognize this critical role of facilitating free flow of legitimate imports and keeping a check on influx of counterfeit products to safeguard the supply chain.

Due to high tariff rates, especially on all luxury items, like perfumes and toiletries, the department has witnessed a sudden trend towards import of hazardous counterfeit products. A variety of counterfeit goods have been detected nationwide during 2020. Most of the counterfeit items including empty bottles, edibles, toiletries, perfumes, watches, insecticides, auto part labels and makeup products. Some of these fast moving consumer goods pose a serious threat to health and safety of consumers. A major achievement was the seizure of thousands of counterfeit watches, whose originals have an approximate market value of US $ 23 million. Due to these landmark cases a special letter and Certificate of Appreciation from the President of the Swiss Watch Federation was sent to Customs IPR.

The onslaught of Covid 19, disrupted the entire supply chain, and posed new threats, bringing life to a complete halt, destabilizing the biggest economies, thus the need of the hour is damage control. This calls for a totally new approach and even stronger zest, zeal and passion to revive.

The Directorate General of IPRE has striven hard to fulfill the vision and mission of World Intellectual Rights Organization (WIPO); by implementing key provisions of the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) Act of 2012 and making huge seizures of counterfeit products. It was because of these efforts that the Office of the US Trade Representative moved Pakistan from the Priority Watch List to the Watch List in 2017.

Quite lately a Joint Customs Operation (JCO) “HYGIEA” was organized by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) in association with the administration of Asia Europe meeting (ASEM). The JCO focused on interdiction of counterfeit Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs). FBR nominated the Directorate General of IPR (Enforcement), Islamabad to serve as national contact point for this operation. A final report on JCO HYGIEA formulated by OLAF revealed that performance of Pakistan Customs was at the top out of 38 participating countries.This outstanding performance of IPR (Enforcement) was acknowledged and highly appreciated by the OLAF, EUROPOL, ASEM and all participating member states of the JCO HYGIEA bringing a good name for FBR and Pakistan Customs.

We are hopeful that Pakistan Customs will stand out in IPR Enforcement at borders and continue to curb the import of counterfeit goods. The basis for this optimism is our performance, continuous engagement with national and foreign stakeholders, and dedication to the cause of ensuring health and safety for the consumers.