From fake electronics shoes nutritional supplements to medicines the sheer size of the business of counterfeit goods in Vietnam is staggering said a panel of leading experts at a recent business forum in Ho Chi Minh City.
A counterfeit good is any product that is made to closely resemble another in an attempt to trick a customer into buying it, they said, adding that it’s a business that is as old as commerce itself.
Although law enforcement agencies try their best to control the activities of criminal organizations that produce and market these goods, stopping them seems highly doubtful because the practices are so pervasive and difficult to detect and prosecute.
The best way to counter the manufacture of imitated products is to inform consumers of the potential harm these products pose to the nation’s economy as well as their personal wellbeing.
Many citizens do not realize the harmful effects that counterfeit products have on Vietnamese businesses, said the panel, adding that businesses and industries lose billions of US dollars in revenue annually due to them.
An official from national footwear retailer, Biti’s, told the gathering that fake shoes from China costs his company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in lost revenue.
Just about every time we launch a new shoe line, a cheaper imitation of poor quality appears in the marketplace within just a few short weeks, the official said, benefiting from all of our advertising and marketing effort.
Cao Van Sang, general director of Saigon Plastic Joint Stock Company, noted his company has had the same experience. Not only do the Chinese undercut his company’s prices by 10-12%, the often also mislabel the goods as Made-in-Vietnam.
Phan Hoang Kiem, director of the City’s Department of Industry and Trade said in just the first six months of 2016, the agency uncovered 13,868 cases of black marketing of pirated or counterfeit goods.
Nguyen Dinh Dong, general director of the Southern Rubber Company, emphasized that he believes most of the fake goods are produced in foreign markets and smuggled into Vietnam, across the Chinese border.
Stricter border controls, in his opinion, would solve the problem.
Others pointed to in-depth global studies that have shown, between 5% and 20% of global electronic parts in an industry’s supply chain – such as Sony, Samsung, LG Electronics, Apple – are estimated to be counterfeit parts.
Another speaker noted that far too many Vietnamese are too concerned with paying the cheapest price for their electronics, when they should be focused on the harmful effects that these cheaply made counterfeits could have on their wellbeing.
Faulty batteries or poorly designed transformers are explosive under certain conditions. In addition, cheap inexpensive parts wear out faster, meaning the product is more likely to break down or not function as it should, costing the consumer more in the long run.
With near unanimity, those attending the conference agreed that counterfeits are a blight on the reputations of the nation’s businesses and the national image they are trying to establish, costing billions in lost revenue.
Counterfeit Goods and the Internet
There was much discussion about the effect of the Internet on the sale of fraudulent goods. Because online auction sites, like eBay or ChoDienTu, have no warranties of authenticity and quality control is non-existent, counterfeiters can easily distribute misleading or fake products using these sites.
Most importantly, said Phan Hoang Kiem, people should be aware of counterfeit medicines and nutritional supplements that are flowing across the border and the threat they pose to the health and safety of the people.
Like retail merchants, counterfeit medicines and supplements create multitudes of problems for legitimate drug and supplement manufacturers by undermining their reputations and revenues.
Almost any such formulation can be counterfeited, other speakers said. High priced lifestyle medicines like drugs for treating erectile dysfunction, fat reducers and sleep remedies, in addition to antibiotics, anticancer drugs, and inexpensive versions of painkillers or histamines are likely candidates to be counterfeited.
Years ago counterfeit medicines could be identified by physical appearance or by reading labels for ingredients. However, over the past few years, counterfeiters have become more sophisticated, causing visual inspection to be largely ineffective.
Today, chemical analysis is the only sure way to detect whether a drug is fake or legitimate.
Taking all things into account, there was a general consensus that counterfeit goods are not only harmful to the economy but extremely harmful to the health and safety of the Vietnamese people.
It is important for consumers to understand the multi-faceted complexities that counterfeiting has on the nation’s economy and businesses and the significant threat that fake medications and nutritional supplements present.
By spreading the word about the harm caused by counterfeit goods, consumers could potentially put an end to and counter these lucrative industries of counterfeit products throughout Vietnam.