ED Addresses the OECD/EUIPO Workshop on Misuse of Maritime Transport for Counterfeit Trade

Coordinated and Aligned Responses Across Sectors: Enhancing Intelligence and Information-Sharing to Counter Illicit Trade across Borders and for Enhanced Investigations and Prosecutions


Joint OECD EUIPO Workshop on the Misuse of Maritime Transport for Counterfeit Trade

David M. Luna

Business at OECD

Chair, Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG)

October 1, 2021

EUIPO, Alicante, Spain


Chris Martin, co-Chair of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT), HMRC, UK, thank you for your outstanding leadership in leading the Task Force these past several years.


Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to all participants joining us from different parts of the world


Let me commend the OECD and EUIPO again for their leadership in advancing another important initiative in the core work area of the Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT).


It is an honor to participate in this last session with Steve Francis, co-Chair of the TFCIT, and Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, DHS, United States, and Maria Martin-Prat, Deputy Director-General for Trade, European Commission (EC), EU.


Steve, congratulations on your latest promotion at DHS HSI to yet another senior-level position of leadership.


Let me also thank my good friends Paul Maier and Nathan Wajsman, EUIPO Observatory on IP Infringement; Piotr Stryszowski, Senior Economist, Director for Public Governance, OECD; colleagues from both the OECD and EUIPO, the OECD Bureau, and all Members of TFCIT and the Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group,


I would additionally like to thank all of our partners here today with us, and our speakers, for your continued leadership in advancing our important joint work program on countering illicit trade.


As the Chair of the Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG), I would like to express how proud we are of our new public-private partnership (PPP) with the OECD, EU/EUIPO, and EC by extension.


Together, we are harnessing great energies to grow our network across regions, sectors, and markets and strengthening the requisite political will to help fight illicit trade across economies, ports, Free Trade Zones, trade and investment hubs, online-markets, and across the digital world.


It is important to note that our efforts to counter illicit trade should not be viewed through a technical prism.


But rather, we must see the convergence of crimes that are magnified by illicit trade, especially as we face one of the biggest threats of today’s globalized world.


The cross-border threats posed by illicit trade undermine the rule of law, kill growth and innovation and fuel corruption and organized crime, enabling criminals to exploit governance and enforcement gaps.


Enhancing transparency of cargo in container ships becomes a critical component for building a fairer, safer and wealthier post-COVID economy and society.


On my earlier point regarding political will, it will take efforts by OECD member states and non-members states to work together through the array of complex security challenges associated with misuse of maritime transport for counterfeit trade.


With strong leadership by the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom, OECD members, and leading inter-governmental organizations, we can develop a strong foundation for a successful global initiative to counter illicit trade in container ships.


Let me thank again Steve Francis, Maria Martin Prat (EU Deputy Director General for Trade), and Chris Martin for being here at this meeting to manifest their commitment.


But the private sector too must be an equal partner at the table.


Because in order to design relevant and effective instruments, and to develop them quickly, private sector participation is essential as was underscored earlier by several speakers.


In this regard, given that the threat of illicit trade is constantly evolving, we have no time to lose.

As criminals do not waste their time; neither should we.


We are proud that numerous members of the AITEG have participated today including the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), Bayer, Philip Morris International (PMI), the World Shipping Council, the Cross-Industry Working Group, TRACIT, and others.


The high-level involvement by industry and business leaders, when joined by maritime transport operators, rights holders, and other key market players helps to make our partnership quite formidable.


This is not to be underestimated.


We applaud the array of business federations, industry leaders, and NGOs represented here today in a call to action: Business at OECD is ready to act and to co-ordinate.


I am confident that in a partnership, public and private sector participants involved in this initiative will partner to develop a set of excellent, voluntary standards of transparency, effective information sharing, and proactive screening of risks.


Altogether these efforts will effectively counter abuse of maritime transport.


As the United States, UK, and EU have underscored here today, I do believe that the Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade is the right venue for co-ordination and development of such efforts.


In fact, we have a record of success on these important initiatives including the recent successful OECD instrument on transparency in, and the Code of Conduct for, Free Trade Zones.


The pragmatic architecture and unique character of the FTZ instrument is truly inspiring for other areas where action against illicit trade could take place, such as abuse of containerized maritime transport.


It is about a voluntary set of standards that are recognized by countries and that are designed to make a difference.


We must build on this and other successes of the Task Force, and the excellent practices and initiatives already being undertaken across the private sector.


In early 2021, the AITEG launched in collaboration with the TF-CIT a new public-private partnership to combat illicit trade.


In our recent letter to OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, Alvise Giustiniani and I as Business at OECD AITEG co-Chairs underscored that AITEG is committed to work with SG Cormann and OECD Ministers to:


  • ensure Governments take effective measures in the aftermath of COVID-19 to prevent further acceleration of illicit trade globally, including through greater regulatory oversight and law enforcement cooperation to disrupt illicit markets and investigate and prosecute complicit criminal entrepreneurs and their facilitators;

  • address the role of ecommerce platforms and online platforms in fueling illicit trade, including through containerized shipping and small parcels;

  • support the implementation of the OECD Recommendation enhancing transparency in FTZs, support the development of the implementation toolkit, identify best practices, and promote compliance with the Code of Conduct;

  • address illicit trade in vulnerable, high-risk sectors; and

  • elevate policy frameworks and dialogues for the fight against illicit trade.


On this last point, we hope to follow-up with SG Cormann’s office and his advisers to ensure that the work of the TFCIT remains a priority, if not elevated, and enhanced partnerships with EU and other partners.


With respect to Misuse of Maritime Transport for Counterfeit Trade - it is the beginning of a journey.


Working together, and in partnership with Business at OECD AITEG, we will soon progress in our joint efforts to develop a framework and voluntary measures to counter abuse of containerized maritime transport in illicit trade.


As Lars Karlsson, Maersk, just underscored: We have the data.


We have the commitment.


We now need action and to find more pragmatic ways to share market intelligence and information across sectors.


In conclusion, through collective action, data intelligence, information-sharing for greater investigations and prosecutions, and aligned responses across sectors, we can proactively target today’s bad actors and criminal networks involved in the cross-border trafficking of counterfeit goods, mitigate the harms of illicit trade to our markets, and safeguard our shared prosperity and security.


Thank you.


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