CAIRO: Speaking to journalists at the Arab League headquarters yesterday, a cadre of private and public officials announced that the First Arab Consumer and Brand Protection Forum will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this October.
Pirated goods net about $50 billion per year in the Arab world, said Abdul Aziz Bin Othaimeen, co-chairman of Hemaya Universal, a Saudi firm that offers outsourced anti-piracy services. He said Gulf countries alone account for about $13 billion.
“It’s huge, said Othaimeen. “Saudi Arabia takes the cake with about $5 billion of counterfeited products.
The Egyptian Consumer Protection Agency recently announced that copyright piracy in Egypt costs about LE 20 billion ($3.72 billion) annually.
The fall forum will bring together policymakers and businesspeople from throughout the Arab and Muslim world, Othaimeen said. The World Customs Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization have agreed to join.
Part of the target is just to help officials figure out where to start fighting this “phenomenon of the 21st century, he said.
“It’s a $780 billion problem that the whole world suffers from. So we’re going to do our best to put together the foundations for us to unite to start to combat the problem, he said. “The service provides for [television] channels like ART, Rotana, Orbit – they’re all affected by these piracy acts.
Egypt has signed several anti-piracy pacts, including the Paris Convention of the Protection of Intellectual Property and the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, a trademark accord. It is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
In 2005, the International Intellectual Property Rights Alliance, a private sector anti-piracy union, estimated that the market for bootleg goods in Egypt was about half the size of that of copyrighted goods, making it one of the biggest piracy markets in the world. In 2008, the alliance gave Egypt a score of 4.4 on its annual intellectual property rights index. While not the lowest in the Middle East (Kuwait scored 3.8), this score falls well below the regional average of 5.0 and the world average of 5.1.
The region including Russia and Central and Eastern Europe fared the worst in the group’s survey, with a score of 3.9. Africa as a whole fared slightly better, coming in at 4.1. Western Europe had the highest marks with 7.5, while North America scored 6.9.
“We’re not going to eliminate counterfeiting and piracy, but once you spread awareness and build capacity among the stakeholders, you can definitely make a difference, Othaimeen said. “The United States took 10 years to reduce the counterfeiting problem from 36 percent to 26 percent. Ten years.
The conference held yesterday was attended by Amr Moussa, general secretary of the Arab League, Saleh Kamel, chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ahmed Al Hamdan, chairman of Hemaya.