Trade and piracy


The State of São Paulo, 06/04/2005

The American government decided to extend by six months, that is, until September, the deadline given to Brazil to prove effective action in combating the sale of counterfeit products and the crime against intellectual property.

With this decision, Brazilian exporters will continue to benefit from the General System of Preferences (SGP), which allows a certain number of products to enter the United States at zero tariffs. Last year, goods worth US $ 2,1 billion, about 10% of sales to the American market, were exported under this regime. The concessions provided by the SGP are voluntary and unilateral. The threat of exclusion from Brazil remains and in theory it could be applied, within a few months, if the protection of intellectual property in Brazil is considered insufficient.

The lengthening of the term is "the result of some positive initial steps by the Brazilian government", according to the Office of the United States Representative for Trade (USTR), equivalent to a Ministry of Foreign Trade. The interim minister, Peter Allgeier, had talked a few days earlier with the undersecretary for Economic Affairs of the Itamaraty, Clodoaldo Hugueney, about the actions of the Brazilian government.

According to the USTR's assessment, however, the prosecutions and convictions remain few in number and insufficient to discourage crime.

In September last year, the American government had given Brazil 180 days to initiate a more serious offensive against piracy. The pressure increased recently when International Intellectual Property, one of the world's leading intellectual property organizations, denounced the Brazilian government to the White House for not implementing the CPI Piracy proposals and for the insignificant results of the crackdown on smuggling.

The entity charged the American authorities with punishing Brazil, arguing that American companies lost US $ 758 million in 2003 as a result of the invasion of pirated products. In March, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere, Senator Norm Coleman, was in Brazil to discuss the matter.

The Brazilian authorities must fight piracy not only to meet the pressure from other countries, but mainly because the country is seriously injured by smuggling and counterfeiting and because there are connections between these practices and the big organized crime.

The Interministerial Committee to Combat Piracy, created in 2001, had a frustrating performance, giving the impression that it appeared only to attenuate criticism of the country. In November 2004, the Federal Revenue Service in Foz do Iguaçu intensified its smuggling. Shortly before the deadline set in September by the USTR, the federal government created the new council that, in the last two days of February, outlined a plan to combat piracy, composed of 99 rules, many capable of bringing short-term results.

Now, with the union of the police, industry and higher authorities, operations such as those of the Federal Revenue Service in Foz do Iguaçu, started in November 2004, can bring greater results. Last year, the value of seizures of goods smuggled on the border with Paraguay reached US $ 33,574 million. It was a record and almost double the seizures of 2003.

The crackdown on smuggling, now defined by the National Plan to Combat Piracy, will last for a long time and will bring together the Federal Police, the Federal Revenue Service, the Council to Combat Piracy and the Ministry of Justice. According to the authorities, actions such as those carried out on the border with Paraguay will extend to other ports of entry for smuggling, such as the Ports of Santos and Paranaguá, the twin cities of Ponta Porã and Pedro Juan Caballero and the border of Uruguay, in the region of Uruguay. Arroio Chuí.

According to the Itamaraty, the American government would have taken a more appropriate decision if it had abandoned the threat of excluding Brazil from the SGP. The country, according to the authorities in Brasília, is and will continue to be committed to fighting piracy. But it is undeniable that the results are still limited and that much more needs to be done to discourage smugglers and counterfeiters.