Zim Losing the Counterfeit Products War: Local Analyst

The unchecked growth of counterfeit products dumped on the Zimbabwean market has reached alarming levels with customs happy to pocket a few cents on the declared fake merchandise at the expense of control mechanisms, a local business analyst, Victor Bharoma has said.

In his weekly column, Bharoma expressed concern over the flooding of counterfeit products on the streets, a trend he said has been left to develop on the local market.

“Although the country’s official import bill shows that imports into the country have slightly eased to $5.2 billion for the past 2 years from the $6.26 billion of 2015, the quality of the imports leaves a lot to be desired for the society and the economy,” said Bharoma.

He added, “Counterfeit or fake products appear in virtually everything from foodstuffs, electronics, drugs, musical CDs, kitchen wear, clothes, footwear, handbags, perfumes, machine and auto parts, vehicles, cellphones and accessories, toys, chemicals and tools.”

“The major sources of these products are China, Dubai (UAE), Singapore and South Africa which account for over 70% of the Zimbabwean import bill.”

Unconfirmed reports indicate that most of these products are imported in containers or disguised as cargo in-transit to neighboring countries.

“What makes product counterfeiting a lost war in Zimbabwe is that customs is happy to collect a few cents on the declared fake merchandise than enforce laws that control importation of such merchandise,” queried Bharoma.

He added that the unrestrained growth of counterfeit products is an enormous drain on the Zimbabwean economy as foreign currency is lost on poor quality merchandise that does not fit the intended purpose especially products intended for commercial use such as vehicles, electrical goods, spares, tools and equipment.

According to a 2017 report published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is worth over $500 billion dollars annually with U.S. (20%), Italian (15%), French (12%) and Swiss (12%) brands being the hardest hit by Asian counterfeit producers. The exploitation linked to counterfeit goods starts with the manufacturer and continues up to the end of the supply chain in developing countries such as Zimbabwe.

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