East African investors seek to curb rising illicit trade

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/16 14:16:07

East African business community kicked off a two-day meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday to seek ways of tackling illicit trade -- a key source of revenue loss across the region.

The meeting was organized by the East African Business Council (EABC), a private sector association comprising investors involved in exporting and importing in five East African Community (EAC) member states -- Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi -- in collaboration with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).

Speaking during the conference, Kenya's Principal Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Chris Kiptoo, said efforts to combat illicit trade were underway championed by both private sector and government agencies.

The main focus of the conference was to seek practical solutions on the ever growing issue of counterfeits, piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement, smuggling, substandard goods, transit fraud and dumping and trade in prohibited goods and products.

Lillian Awinja, EABC Chief Executive Officer, said that although progress has been made in several areas, a lot more still ought to be done to win the fight against illicit trade.

Experts are discussing the current status of the existing regional and national regulatory frameworks for combating various forms of illicit trade and strategies on how to strengthen them.

The talks also centered on how the region can achieve effective enforcement, including the need to set up inter-agency cooperation at national and regional level, the long-existing contributors to illicit trade, information exchange and consumer education.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that EAC governments lose over 500 million US dollars in tax revenue annually due to the influx of counterfeit and pirated products.

In Kenya, KAM estimates a loss of over 42 million dollars annually to illicit trade and approximately 80 million dollars loss in government revenue.

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