Stay alert for low quality goods as Lunar New Year 2022 approaches

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Mr. Nguyen Xuan Khuong, Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs). Photo: Nguyễn Thanh

Complex developments in the “new normal”

Speaking at an online seminar: “Counterfeit goods, smuggled goods and trade fraud: Current situation and solutions” organized by Business Forum Magazine, Do Thi Minh Thuy Standing Office of the National Steering Committee 389, said that in the context of society gradually entering a “new normal”, the production and trade of counterfeit and smuggled goods would witness complex developments.

According to statistics, in the first nine months of 2021, the forces detected 100,000 cases, a decrease of nearly 300% compared to the same period last year. However, there was an increase in the number of complicated cases with criminal elements, prosecution of 1,615 cases, an increase of 90% over the same period last year.

“The decrease in the rate of cases was due to the developments of the pandemic and social distancing in some localities; at the same time due to the strengthening of border control as well as the drastic intervention of competent forces,” Mrs. Thuy said.

However, Thuy said there were complex developments in the field of e-commerce. Counterfeit goods appeared on e-commerce sites very quickly. For example, Covid-19 treatment medicine that had just been officially put on the market then fake medicine for Covid-19 treatment also appeared.

“According to data, the main emerging items were masks, Covid-19 treatment medicines and equipment for pandemic prevention, used medical gloves. The situation was particularly complicated in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,” Thuy said.

“It is likely that inventory and poor-quality goods would be put on the market, there was a risk of erasing the date, and at the same time, food hygiene and safety is also an issue that needs attention,” Ms. Thuy said.

Not only smuggling, manufacturing and trading in fake goods, but the issue of origin fraud has also taken place in recent times.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Khuong, Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs), said: “In the context of the trade war, many businesses sought to enjoy preferential tariffs with origin of Vietnamese goods. This action affected many domestic manufacturing industries.”

According to a representative of the Lao Cai Market Surveillance Department, many people have mixed smuggled goods with other goods. Smugglers also take advantage of e-commerce sites to smuggle fake goods and commit origin fraud.

“There were cases conducted through e-commerce, when we tracked them, the goods were gathered at a place near the border, so it was very difficult to handle. It was forecast that the smuggling at the end of the year would be complicated when the economy reopens,” the representative said.

Close coordination to prevent origin fraud

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Khuong said that the Customs sector had taken many measures to prevent origin fraud, protect domestic manufacturers, and ensure Vietnamese origin.

Since 2019, the General Department of Vietnam Customs has issued many documents and directives on guiding and implementing solutions. The Customs authority directed the professional unit to actively study documents regulating origin, export and import to identify risks as well as fraudulent methods.

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Customs authority will continue to cooperate with competent authorities to prevent origin fraud. Photo: H.Nụ

In addition, the General Department of Vietnam Customs also collects information in the country and from abroad, identifies goods and enterprises with signs of risk, counterfeit trademarks and reviews transactions of a number of companies that have abnormally high turnover.

“In 2021, Customs identified 15 brands at risk of origin fraud, including key items such as fashion, clothing, shoes, and bags of some famous brands. During the 4th outbreak of Covid-19 in Vietnam, Customs also identified a number of high-risk items such as gloves and masks,” Mr. Khuong said.

In the future, the General Department of Vietnam Customs would continue to closely coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) as well as associations and industries to clarify origin fraud, inspect, and prevent origin fraud.

Regarding the production and sale of counterfeit goods, from a business perspective, a representative of Tien Phong Plastic Joint Stock Company said people producing and trading counterfeit goods had grasped the technology very quickly. When businesses change technology, they easily copy it in a short time. Meanwhile, the law and sanctions on dealing with counterfeit goods were still not strict enough for counterfeiters to feel at risk.

Enterprises were very entangled in identifying the infringement of industrial property rights. For example, a product is branded Tien Phong plastic, but the object only needs to add a certain word before the word Tien Phong plastic or behind it. So this product is no longer fake goods but it is considered an infringement of rights.

In order to identify infringement, the procedures are cumbersome. If businesses can pursue lawsuits, it also costs a lot of effort, time and money. “I suggested that some document or regulation should be developed to clearly define the infringement of rights,” a representative of Tien Phong Plastic Joint Stock Company said.

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