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Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Randall Karim emphasized that persistence and a “synergistic, well-coordinate approach” is key to combatting illicit trade, during his delivery of the Feature Address at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturer’s Association (TTMA) Forum-Combatting Illegal Trade, held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain, on Thursday 27 October, 2023.

Addressing participants, which included government officials, law enforcement, regulatory agencies and businesses, Karim said, “Continuous, persistent work is of paramount importance in the relentless fight against illicit trade. It is an adaptable and resilient adversary, and efforts to combat it must be equally dynamic and unwavering.  Government’s National Action Plan and the MTI’s Anti-illicit Trade Task Force (AITTF) represents a cohesive approach to tackling illicit trade, with its strides toward streamlining the efforts of various legislative, police-making and enforcement agencies as well as the private sector.”

Ongoing measures taken by AITTF include steps toward strengthening the legal framework to combat illicit trade, strengthening the capacity of public agencies and enforcement agencies, enhancing collaboration among regulatory and enforcement agencies, promoting public-private partnerships and increasing public awareness of illicit trade and associated dangers.

“Illicit trade affects each and every one of us,” Karim said. “An all-of-Trinidad and Tobago approach with input from all stakeholders, both public and private sector collaboration, is key to tackling the issue.”  

PS Karim who is also the Co-chair of the Anti-Illicit Trade Task Force commended the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association for organizing the forum and for their continuous efforts in the fight against illicit trade in Trinidad and Tobago. He also recognized the efforts of regulatory and enforcement agencies and members of the Task Force.

Roger Roach, TTMA’s President, delivered Welcome Remarks. He announced the programme represents the TTMA’s very first anti-illicit trade forum and “is the start of something big.” He said illicit trade is an area of interest that the TTMA has been advocating against since 2018 when the association launched its Illicit Trade Desk. He emphasized the need for a “whole society approach” and “inter-country collaboration” to destroy illicit trade networks.

The specially invited Jeffery Hardy, Director General of the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT), presented an overview of illicit trade. Hardy also praised the work of the Ministry noting that the TRACIT’s case study “Good Practices in Fighting Illicit Trade: The case of Trinidad and Tobago” features a good practice example on actions that governments are undertaking to mitigate illicit trade.

Among the many presentations, the Forum’s agenda included:

“Intellectual Property and Counterfeiting,” presented by Fanta Punch, Partner, M, Hamel-Smith and Company; “Illicit Trade in Retail- Apparel and Footwear” presented by Neil Narriman, Head of Brand Protection, Puma; and “OECD Recommendations on Countering Illicit Trade in Free Trade Zones” presented by Piotr Stryszowski, Head of Unit, Working Party on Countering Illicit Trade, OECD Trade Directorate.

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