When the cheap is expensive


By Roberto Giannetti da Fonseca, The State of S. Paulo - 28/03/2005

Some people have asked me: “Why should the current Fiesp administration demonstrate such commitment and determination in combating piracy and evasion?” The answer is simple and obvious: the foundation of an organized and developed society is the market competition regime, within established rules, which must be observed and complied with by everyone, without distinction. It turns out that, unfortunately, we are experiencing a scourge that is gaining an alarming dimension at the international level. This is the phenomenon of piracy, coupled with tax evasion.

Product counterfeiting, combined with contraband and tax evasion, currently moves hundreds of billions of dollars around the world. In Brazil alone, according to calculations by Unafisco (National Union of Tax Auditors of the Federal Revenue), the illegal market for pirated products generates around R $ 63 billion per year, of which the Federal coffers fail to collect around R $ 27,8, XNUMX billion. This, not to mention the social damage resulting from this wave of piracy, which eliminates millions of formal jobs in industry, commerce and services and causes serious damage to ethical companies, which operate within the law, paying taxes and generating jobs. In addition, the consumer who buys a counterfeit product does not always assess the risks he or she takes in terms of their own health and safety.

Most of the pirated products consumed in Brazil are produced abroad and smuggled through some seaports and, mainly, the dry borders with countries like Paraguay and Bolivia. From Amapá to Rio Grande do Sul, we have about 16 thousand kilometers of dry frontier, that is, five times greater than that between the United States and Mexico, where illegal immigrants never stop penetrating in American soil, despite all the technology that the police force has to fight the problem.

With extremely limited human, financial and technological resources, the Brazilian authorities have recently performed real miracles in combating the smuggling of pirated products into Brazilian territory.

It is worth mentioning the so-called “Cataratas Operation”, which, in just two months, resulted in the approach of more than 100 buses in the Foz de Iguaçu region, with the apprehension of tens of millions of reais of counterfeit goods, such as cigarettes, CDs, DVDs , software, products and electronic components, among others, mostly from China and Taiwan, where the major product counterfeiting industries of the most varied brands and origins are located.

These manufacturers have no concern for licensing and paying royalties to legitimate trademark and patent holders of goods. In recent months, several arrests of millionaire smugglers and tax evaders have been taking place in large urban centers like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

However, even so, all actions are still few in the face of the enormous challenge of fighting this powerful segment of organized crime, which does not hesitate to corrupt dishonest authorities, kill its most staunch opponents and openly challenge the State in all its legal and political dimension. . We therefore need to do much more to prevent this evil from proliferating in our midst. For this, it is necessary that the government and the private sector invest together and soon in human resources, technology and infrastructure, in order to train our ports, airports and customs posts for an aggressive fight against piracy.

To inspect the borders and customs, there are about 7.800 men in the Federal Police and about 7.500 customs inspectors in the Federal Revenue Service. The number is insufficient. We may need to train and train twice as many civil servants for effective and efficient customs inspection.

Installed in October 2004, the National Council to Combat Piracy and Crimes against Intellectual Property started a new and decisive offensive against this illegal trade, coordinating actions between the various public bodies, such as the Federal Revenue, Federal Police, Itamaraty, Ministry Public and the private sector.

In this context, Fiesp intends to add a real mobilization of society at all levels, involving producers, traders, workers, consumers, federal, state and municipal governments, in order to intensify the fight against illegal trade in pirated products. The goal is also to educate and raise awareness among Brazilian consumers to avoid buying illegal products.

The true crusade that Fiesp will carry out in this field begins with the promotion of the seminar “Brazil Against Piracy”, Tuesday (March 29), with the presence of countless Brazilian and foreign authorities, businessmen from various sectors, representatives unions and NGOs, all associated with this national mobilization effort against this harmful evil.

With determination and perseverance in this objective, we soon hope to see the decline of piracy in Brazil and the predominance of the legality of a society based on fair and honest competition.

* Roberto Giannetti da Fonseca, economist and entrepreneur, is the head of Foreign Trade and International Relations at the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp), former executive secretary of Camex and author of the book 'Memories of a Trader'.