“Illicit trade not only results in business losses in the economy, but also destabilises society by fueling corruption and criminal activity at the local level,” said Jeff Hardy, Director-General of the new Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) in an interview this week with Ideas Matter. “Government agendas even in such areas as working to achieve the UN sustainable development goals are undermined by illicit trafficking of commercial goods.”
Working with private-sector companies, governments and intergovernmental bodies, TRACIT is a new, independent organisation focussed on improving communication, awareness and information sharing to address illicit trade more holistically across the many business sectors vulnerable to lost market share and exploitation from illegal traders. These include not only brands and copyright sectors that are vulnerable to illicit trade in the forms of counterfeiting and piracy, but also companies and groups dealing with illicit trade involving agri-foods, alcohol, fisheries, forestry, pesticides, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, precious metals and gemstones, tobacco, wildlife, and human trafficking.
“Businesses in different sectors can do a better job of sharing case studies, supply controls, and other best practices to address supply chain problems in a more holistic way,” says Hardy. “There’s an enormous amount of lesson sharing that needs to be done.”
Hardy, who for the past decade has acted for IP-sector companies in addressing counterfeiting and piracy and worked on trade issues internationally with the G-20 countries, says that better coordination and communication within and among governments is also needed to address illicit trade. For example, at least 20 UN agencies deal with different aspects of illicit trade, covering many diverse sectors.
“Government and intergovernmental agencies have taken this up as a policy priority, so it’s not surprising that there’s at least one agency that’s addressing each one of these areas in some way or another,” says Hardy. “If we could bring these sectors together a little bit more effectively, couldn’t the governments’ tools more effectively leverage businesses’ own efforts to secure supply chains?“