By Riad Beladi .Algerian market flooded with counterfeit products
Algiers- Algeria (PANA) — Smuggling and the importation of counterfeit products are the main problems facing Algerian officials since the liberalisation of the country’s foreign trade.
The two problems have negatively-impacted on Algeria’s foreign trade and turned the country into a big bazaar where counterfeit products are sold at unbeatable prices.
As an example, the multinational computer software company, Microsoft, has lost 20 million US dollars in Algeria due to piracy and counterfeit, a reliable source said.
All the country’s 11 sea ports, 17 airports and 13 land border posts are overwhelmed by smuggling syndicates.
During the first half of 2002 alone, more than 30 percent of products marketed in Algeria did not meet standards.
This also applies to the health sector, where 2,000 cases of food poisoning were recorded this summer in Algiers, the Algerian capital.
According to a study carried out by the finance ministry on counterfeit and tax evasion, the current legislation is incapable of preventing fraudulent tax and customs statements.
The study revealed that the parallel market took up 30 percent of Algeria’s GDP, representing 10 to 14 billion US dollars.
Last year, the customs department seized about 860 counterfeit products from Asia and some Arab countries, ranging from electronic appliances to beauty products, detergents, spare parts and clothing.
Faced with this situation, the ministry of trade is planning to review the commercial law to adapt it to new realities, notably Algeria’s impending membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The ministry is also planning to complete the re-registration of traders in order to “separate the wheat from the chaff.
” Despite the multiplication of checks (50,000 last year, of which 20,500 targeted unregistered traders who did not produce any invoices), there are currently between 700 and 1,000 illegal trading outlets across Algeria.
The ministry of trade has listed 40,000 importers sharing between 4.
5 and 5 billion US dollars among them every year, as against 400 exporters, the majority of whom are in the public sector.