Campaign reiterates zero-tolerance on illegal trading

By Luke Barras-hill |

Global duty free and travel retail is rallying support around a new campaign launched today (6 July) targeting illicit trade, counterfeiting and intellectual property theft.

Tax Free World Association (TFWA) and the Duty Free World Council (DFWC), leaning on support from the industry’s regional associations, have announced ‘Duty Free: Trusted, Transparent, Secure’.

This flags the dangers of and DF&TR’s stance against illegal goods trading, while calling on governments to take further action by working collaboratively with industry stakeholders to fight the activity.

The duty and tax free industry – like many others – lose millions a year in lost sales opportunities as a result of criminal activities, read a joint statement from TFWA and DFWC.

‘Societal shift’ requires action

Both reiterated a long-standing and robust message that duty and tax free channels possess one of the most trusted, secure and legitimate supply chains in the world, with products sold in travel retail subject to rigorous traceability and authenticity checks.

An online research portal, www.dutyfreefacts.info, features information on duty free and its contribution to the wider travel ecosystem allowing users to access reports, articles and research.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, DFWC President Sarah Branquinho said: “I am delighted to mark the launch of this important campaign. The duty and tax free industry has a zero-tolerance approach to counterfeiting, intellectual property theft and illicit trade, and we are proud that our industry has one of the most secure and transparent supply chains in the world.

“Our retailers and brand owners lose millions in lost sales opportunities each year to the criminals who control illicit trade, and we urge governments around the world to collaborate with our industry on this important issue.

TFWA and DFWC, in concert with other industry trade associations, have launched ‘Duty Free; Trusted, Transparent, Secure’.

“Duty and tax free retailers worldwide stand shoulder to shoulder with our brand-owner colleagues, and those on the front line in the fight against these crimes.”

Erik Juul-Mortensen, TFWA President said: “TFWA, together with key duty and tax free industry leaders, is honoured to be part of this joint global campaign against all illicit trade, counterfeit goods and intellectual property theft. The duty and tax free industry is keen to establish effective working partnerships with other industries, key agencies and intergovernmental organisations to continue to tackle illicit trade in all its forms.:

TFWA historically has taken a strong stance against counterfeiting, but the societal shift catalysed by the pandemic resulting in heightened consumer demands around issues such as the sustainability and authenticity of products has been instructive in formulating the new campaign, TFWA and DFWC told members of the press during a briefing today.

Juul-Mortensen said: “TFWA has been active for quite a number of years; I remember we were the co-signers of the famous Declaration of Cannes. That was followed up with workshops, heavy media attention and a poster campaign.”

Aside refuting claims of illicit trade in tobacco duty free, the new campaign highlights the important work being undertaken across all categories to demonstrate the robustness and transparency of duty free and tax free supply chains.

John Rimmer, Managing Director, TFWA said: “We are positioning out industry as a partner to fighting against illicit trade.”

The launch of the new campaign comes as the industry eyes the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Third Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP2) to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products set to take place in Panama next year.

As reported, duty free and travel retail received a welcome boost in November at MOP2 where no reference was paid to the launch of an evidence-based research study that takes as its basis the suggestion that duty free tobacco contributes towards illicit trade.

The WHO first postponed the study aligned to Article 13.2 of the Illicit Trade Protocol – part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) – in 2018.

At the time, the WHO Secretariat proposed the study should be carried out within five years of the protocol’s entry into force (September 2018) and commence immediately.

Offering comments on the timing of the campaign’s launch in the context of the impending meeting due to take place in Panama in 2023, a lobby source close to the matter commented: “We are an industry that is subjected to unfair allegations regarding illicitly traded tobacco, which we have always strongly refuted and indeed backed up with through the strength and security of the duty free supply chain, and the strict controls in place for all products sold in duty free stores.

“But, the Duty Free: Trusted, Transparent, Secure campaign is about demonstrating the good work the industry does across all categories, and seeks to engage in meaningful and constructive conversations with enforcement authorities around the world so we can collaborate more and deepen our cooperation to ensure illicit trade, counterfeiting and intellectual property theft is stamped out wherever it occurs.”

Branquinho added in response to a question from TRBusiness that now is ‘the time to call time’ on illicit practices by ensuring the industry works proactively and collaboratively to tackle it.

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