The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) on Tuesday said many manufacturing companies in Ghana are collapsing due to counterfeiting, piracy and infringement on intellectual property rights.
The Association noted that the increase in counterfeiting and piracy pose many risks for businesses in the country and called for a legislative regime to deter people from the act.
It said counterfeit and pirated products such as food, drinks, pharmaceuticals and textiles were being smuggled into Ghana across many hundreds of miles of un-patrolled border paths, thereby, creating a drain on virtually every local industry.
“Local businesses trying to manufacture and market legitimate products in Ghana see their efforts undercut by piracy and counterfeiting,” Mr Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive Officer of GEA said.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra to highlight the GEA/BUSAC Fund project on counterfeiting and illicit trade in Ghana, the CEO said the widespread illegal activity ultimately reduced the diversity and quality of creative products and other goods available for consumers.
Mr Frimpong announced that the Association secured funding from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) to implement an action to address the issue.
He said illegal trade activities on the market was badly affecting the products of domestic producers and subsequently leading to significant loss of business and jobs especially in the textile and pharmaceutical sectors.
Mr Frimpong said competition in the marketplace has been distorted as legitimate businesses could not compete with pirates who benefit from the work of others without contributing to research and development.
He said: “The theft of intellectual property by counterfeiting and piracy on the scale being witnessed today is stifling the innovation and creativity at the heart of today’s knowledge-based economy.
“They undermine the livelihood of creators and innovators as well as millions of other people working in intellectual property-related sectors.
“It interferes with the virtuous cycle of investment, whereby revenues from existing products are re-invested in developing creativity and innovation”.
Mr Frimpong said counterfeit products affected a nation on five different levels and adversely impacted the society.
Mr Charles Asante-Bempong, Project Co-ordinator, said key activities being implemented under the project included research, sensitisation, media engagement, stakeholder workshops, and dialogues with partners and follow-ups.
He said GEA expected the Government to establish a harmonised anti-counterfeit legal framework with effective punishment to serve as a real deterrent to offenders, introduce Intellectual Property Reform to resolve intellectual property rights disputes, and heightened intellectual property protection.
“The GEA also expects the Government to equip regulatory bodies with requisite tools to enable them to identify counterfeit products and use this knowledge to apply the relevant sanctions,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Doni Kwame, Managing Director of World Trade Centre and Consultant of the project, said pirated goods were very cheap but they cost more and stressed on the need to launch a campaign to combat counterfeiting and piracy in Ghana.
He blamed the act on the porosity of the country’s borders which made it a dumping ground for such low-graded products.
He said the focus of the project is on textile and pharmaceutical sectors and expressed the hope that targets would be met.