Friday, March 29, 2013

Customs in Vietnam and challenges on the northern border with China

It has long been known that Vietnam's porous northern border with China is the route in for many fake goods. China is the major counterfeit source supplying most ASEAN countries, albeit with some product exceptions (e.g. textiles). IP Komodo recommends the book Poorly Made In China for a superb insight into why Chinese manufacturers sell more cheaply than anyone else, so can out-price South East Asian manufacturers. The same applies to counterfeiting.

The net result of the overland trade with Vietnam is that vast numbers of wholesalers selling fake Chinese goods are located in Vietnam’s Northern provinces. Of 6,000 shops noted in one recent news report 800 are run by Chinese nationals. These shops are able to supply retailers across the country with many types of product (smartphones, electronic devices, textiles, garments, etc.), bearing any brand required, in any quantity, at low prices. Goods sourced in China are mainly smuggled through the border by Vietnamese border residents then delivered directly where and when the buyers want. Smugglers interviewed by Thanh Nien News say they pay bribes to avoid seizures by border authorities. For their part, authorities say that because of a shortage of personnel (there are around 5,000 border officers), they are overwhelmed by the situation.  

Vietnam's IP Border protection system is gradually improving. Customs published some IP seizure numbers several years back as follows:

-        16,104 cans of Ensure liquid mik;
-        912 cans (1kg) of Ensure powder mik;
-        936 cans of Glucerna liquid mik.

- 3,756 kg of cell phone components (charge, battery, spare parts) bearing NOKIA mark.
- 800 cell phones bearing NOKIA mark.
- 7,729 bottles of different kinds of cosmetics;
- 93,820 packs of different kinds of tobacco (Vinataba, 555, White Horse and others)
- 300 bottles of different kinds of alcohol;
- 3,940 bottles of different kinds of lubricants (Vistra, Castrol, Honda);
- 3,006 tablets of counterfeit drugs bearing the Viagra mark;
- 5,875 kg of different kinds of sodium glutamate;
- 690 kg of counterfeit labels, marks and boxes.

They expect to publish 2010 - 2012 data soon, and based on IP Komodo's on the ground information the recent seizures will show a marked increase in activity. Several hundred marks have been now recorded with Vietnam Customs. So the progress is encouraging. But as with many South East Asian countries, smuggling and border corruption are also major contributing factors in of the problem.  

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