INTA Trains Pacific Island Customs Agents

Published: April 1, 2020

Customs officials from 13 countries and territories from across the Pacific gathered in Naji, Fiji, from February 12 to 14, for training on best practices to identify counterfeit products and to protect consumers across the Pacific. The training was provided by the Oceania Customs Organization (OCO), with assistance from the INTA, the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

For many years, trade facilitation was the driving factor for capacity building at customs agencies across the Pacific. However, in recent years, security issues needed to be addressed, including provisions on anticounterfeiting. Richard Brennan, Head of Secretariat, OCO, raised this point at the training. The legislative framework in the Pacific is diverse, he said, and generally underprepared to deal with the increasing threat of counterfeit trade.

One participant at the training asserted that many countries in the Pacific are “dumping grounds” for counterfeits due to weak enforcement and low levels of awareness about the dangers of counterfeit goods. Representatives of INTERPOL (the International Criminal Police Organization) substantiated these claims, sharing data from a recent operation that showed certain Pacific island countries are targets for trade in counterfeit medicine.

The training included officials from Australia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Northern Mariana Islands, Niue, Palau, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Representing INTA at the training were Anticounterfeiting Committee-Asia-Pacific Subcommittee Chair Nick Holmes (Davies Collison Cave, Australia), Lina Baechtiger (PMI, Singapore), and the Association’s Asia-Pacific Chief Representative Seth Hays.

On the sidelines of the training, INTA members and staff met with representatives of the Fiji Intellectual Property Office. The Office plans to update its laws in the coming years, and asked INTA for assistance in training and feedback.

INTA has been actively advocating for improvements to the intellectual property (IP) framework in the Pacific for several years. INTA members have supported World Intellectual Property Organization trainings on traditional knowledge in Samoa, raised awareness on IP in Papua New Guinea, and submitted comments to regional multilateral institutions, such as the Pacific Island Forum.

INTA’s Asia-Pacific Representative Office, based in Singapore, represents the Association’s 789 members across the region. Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the Asia-Pacific Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives throughout this region. To learn more about INTA’s activities in the Asia-Pacific, please contact INTA Chief Representative Officer Seth Hays at [email protected].

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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