The Ministry of Finance has announced that it will continue to cease and detain suspicious imported goods, including those from China and other Asian countries, for the sole purpose of enforcing local intellectual property and international trade laws.
The announcement came after a public outcry that the Namibian Customs and Excise officials are persistently confiscating imported goods from mainly China and other Asian countries.
In a statement on Wednesday, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance Tonateni Shidhudhu indicated that this procedure is in line with the Intellectual Property Rights Act and World Trade Organization (WTO) Treaty Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to which Namibia is party.
“This treaty provides for agreements that relate to border measures which are required to be taken for providing protection against infringement of property rights at entry points,” explained Shidhudhu.
According Shidhudhu, the ministry, together with other stakeholders, will intensify law enforcement on the clearance of export and import parcels. This, he added, is to ensure that goods imported and exported conform to the requirements of intellectual property rights and that duties and taxes are dully paid.
“It is important to note that… the Namibian Customs and Excise Act… prohibits [the import of] counterfeit goods,” he added
“It is on this basis that Customs and Excise officials take action to ensure that suspected infringing goods are verified for authenticity before they are released to the rightful owner, or confiscated if found to be counterfeit.”
Shidhudhu further explained that the verification process takes 10 working days.
“If it is found that the goods are counterfeit, the right holder provides an affidavit to substantiate the claim with the support of registration from the Business Intellectual Property Authority.”
He continued: “Thereafter, the client is also given 14 working days to make an objection to request for an extension of another 14 days if the initial 14 days are not sufficient.”
Failure to do so, he noted, will construe that the client has accepted the outcome of the verification process.
On the question as to why non-branded items are being removed from the parcels, Shidhudhu maintained that if non-branded clothing is found in a parcel, customs procedure will apply and thereafter the items will be released to the owner.
However, non-branded items such as medicines, cream, chemicals, detergents, etc. that do not conform to Namibian health requirements, cannot be released due to health reasons.
“The ministry therefore wishes to inform the public that the control and verification mechanisms that are being put in place, are not to confiscate people’s good but to enforce the law and clearing procedures.”
Shidhudhu also warned that the smuggling of counterfeit produces is a serious crime which can lead to heavy fines or criminal processes.