Kunio Mikuriya, secretary general of WCO, whose Brussels headquarters were used to host the IP Summit, told attendees that his organisation has had to make IP rights a top priority because infringement “has become a very lucrative business, particularly for organised crime”, and this could have grave health implications.
A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the EU Intellectual Property Office issued earlier this year claimed that global trade in counterfeit goods is worth almost half a trillion dollars
The report put the value of total global imports at $17.9 trillion in 2013, meaning counterfeits accounted for around 2.5 percent of the world’s trade, with a value of $461 billion.
WCO has strengthened its IP rights programme as a result. It has focused on raising awareness because it’s “not just about protecting rights holders—it’s about protecting people and societies”, Mikuriya said.
The organisation also boasts dozens of private sector partnerships, underlined by 40 agreements.
Private sector participation in customers enforcement is important, according to Mikuriya, as it’s impossible to review 100 percent of consignments that pass through ports and airports.
Their help enables WCO to set high risk management standards and improve the analysis that customs authorities undertake when dealing with huge volumes of consignments.