Jamaica News (JIS) – For the 2017/2018 fiscal year, over $376 million worth of counterfeit goods were seized at the nation’s ports by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), in collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC).
This was disclosed by Director of the Contraband Enforcement Team, Jamaica Customs, Albert Anderson, during a press conference held recently at C-TOC’s headquarters, 8-10 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston.
He said the counterfeit items included over 98,000 pairs of footwear, 15,000 pieces of clothing and 11,000 handbags and purses. More than one million sticks of cigarettes and 2,000 cigars were also seized.
In addition, Mr. Anderson said there are 14 containers with intellectual property rights-infringing items on the port awaiting destruction.
“The majority of Jamaicans do not recognise the damaging effects of counterfeit items, especially as it relates to clothing. It undermines the efforts of the legitimate owners of the product and strengthens the capacity of the black market,” Mr. Anderson noted.
He pointed out that it has been realised that from enforcement activities, persons involved in the sale of counterfeit products also engage in the sale of restricted and potentially life-threatening items, such as black mosquito coils, skin bleaching products, fireworks and uncustomed alcohol.
“The Jamaica Customs Agency faces a challenge in restricting the importation of these items at the point of arrival due to limitations within our aged Customs Act. This is one of the reasons why we are now in the process of creating a new Customs Act, which will be more effective in treating with current realities. The current Act predates our Independence and does not effectively address several areas of concern,” Mr. Anderson said.
He informed that the new Act, once enacted, will serve as a major deterrent to an importer of counterfeit items and further tighten controls at the regulated ports, while allowing an almost seamless movement of goods between legitimate importers and exporters.
Mr. Anderson added that Jamaica Customs is also in the process of acquiring new X-ray machines for use at the airports and seaports.
This new technology, he said, will support increased trade facilitation, while enabling greater risk management through non-intrusive viewing of cargo.
Meanwhile, the Director said that the Jamaica Customs Agency appreciates the partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, as this has proven to be substantially beneficial to both parties in the fight against illicit goods and the criminal network.
“This relationship augurs well and anticipates that our operations will continue to have a crippling effect, which will further protect our country and our citizens. This is a warning to persons involved in the smuggling of contraband through the ports that it is time to cease and desist, as the penalties will become more severe and the financial gains far less attractive,” Mr. Anderson said.