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COVID 19 crisis exploited as opportunity by counterfeiters: ASPA

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The Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA), a self-regulated industry body of anti-counterfeiting and traceability solutions providers unveiled the first edition of its report “The State of Counterfeiting In India – 2020”.

The report highlights the trends of counterfeiting incidents reported in India for the period 2019 and 2018. According to the report, counterfeiting incidents have risen steadily in the last few years and in 2019 these have increased by 24 per cent as compared to 2018.

Globally, counterfeiting now stands at 3.3 per cent of global trade (according to OECD report) and is impacting the social and economic development of countries.

The report also points out that the COVID 19 crisis has been exploited as an opportunity by counterfeiters. A spike in cases of fake hand sanitisers, masks, and PPE kits has been observed during the COVID-19 crisis. More than 150+ cases of counterfeit incidents had been reported from February to April 2020, including fake PPE kits, sanitisers, and masks. This is a direct threat to paramedical professionals, security volunteers, and society at large.

The top 10 sectors with the highest number of counterfeit cases reported include currency, FMCG, alcohol, pharma, documents, agriculture, infrastructure, automotive, tobacco, lifestyle and apparel.

States including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Jharkhand, Delhi, Gujarat, and Uttarakhand are amongst top 10 states which need urgent attention to frame anti-counterfeiting policy mechanism. UP continues at the top followed by Bihar, Rajasthan and together these three states represent almost 45 per cent of the total counterfeit incidents reported in India in the last two years.

Counterfeiting activities activities are not limited to high-end luxury items. Common day to day items including cumin seeds, mustard cooking oil, ghee, hair oil, soaps, baby care vaccines and medicine are increasingly reported counterfeited by criminals.

Nakul Pasricha, President, ASPA, said, “The trends call for immediate action. Counterfeit products across various sectors in India are causing over Rs 1 trillion (1 lakh crore) every year to our economy and the progress to date is simply not good enough to fight this crime of the 21st century. There is a need for an ongoing focus on building and nurturing authentication eco-systems in the country and as an industry association, we are committed to that. The involvement and active participation of all stakeholders is extremely crucial in this, as a lot of awareness is required at the industry, government, and consumer level.”

Adding that the authentication environment will support the Government’s “Make in India” initiative and its image at a global level, where trust is becoming an especially critical factor, Pasricha said, “We need to ensure that the “Make in India” products are genuine, safe, and secure until they are delivered to the end consumer across the globe. ASPA is building up innovative tools to help policymakers on the need for action and legislation in fighting counterfeiting and this report is one of such tools”.

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