New index ranks countries’ ability to combat IP crime and other illicit trade

By Ideas Matter

A new Global Illicit Trade Index evaluates 84 countries on their capability to guard against intellectual property theft and other forms of illicit trade, and has found that Europe leads the world’s regional rankings in the transparency and trade, Customs, supply and demand, and government policy environments needed to combat illicit trade.

The study, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT), looks at a number of different types of illicit trade on the basis of sub-indicators such as corruption, intellectual property protection, law enforcement, criminal activity, Free Trade Zone (FTZ) governance, and illicit financial flows. 

“Illicit trade is a huge problem worldwide,” Stefano Betti, Deputy-Director of TRACIT told Ideas Matter. “It represents the ‘dark side’ of globalisation.  Illicit trade has many manifestations and dynamics, and organised crime is in most cases behind these manifestations and these problems.” 

The EIU’s Europe report found that on average the 34 European countries studied scored significantly higher in the index than the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Middle East and Africa regions, largely due to the strong anti-illicit trade policies in place among the founding 15 EU members.  Finland ranked #1 both among the European economies and world-wide as having the best protections in place.

“The index itself does not score an economy’s performance or effectiveness in combatting illicit trade,” said Dr Renée Friedman, EIU’s EMEA Managing Director at the European report launch on 7 June. “We evaluate the structural capability of these economies to protect against illicit trade.”

Industry, government, enforcement and NGO participants at the European report launch expressed their support for and numerous comments and suggestions related to the report:

“This is a particularly relevant topic for the European Union, as it relates to respecting the rules for the functioning of the single market,” said H.E. Nikolaus Marschik, Austria’s Permanent Representative to the EU.

“This is a complex issue, but the division is mainly linked to [a country’s] level of development and geography,” said Peter Kovacs, Head of Unit for Intellectual Property Protection and Public Procurement, DG Trade, European Commission. “[These countries] need to have more protection and more support.”

“Business in many cases has much more detailed information on where some of this illicit trade is moving,” said Ana Hinojosa, Director of Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, World Customs Organization.  “Sharing that information is extremely valuable to the law enforcement authorities.”

“There are lots of things that occupy political attention at the moment,” said Philip Kermode, Director for Customs, DG TAXUD, European Commission. “There are things like illicit trade where we need to keep the focus there, and I think this exercise in helping to keep the focus there is actually very important.”

Ideas Matter has worked with TRACIT to produce a feature video of the launch of the European Illicit Trade Index report, which you can see here. For copies of the Global Illicit Trade Index reports and further information, see the EIS website here and TRACIT’s website here