NEW YORK — June 8, 2021 — Today, a coalition of private and public actors launched a new public education initiative entitled United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) to combat black market trade. The campaign will run through 2021 and provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.
USA-IT is a coalition of national and state brand enforcement experts, law enforcement agencies, and leading business organizations, including:
- American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)
- Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Center at Michigan State University
- Arizona Trucking Association (ATA)
- Florida Petroleum Marketers Association (FPMA)
- Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA)
- Florida Retail Federation (FRF)
- GrindStone Strategic Consulting
- Illinois Fuel & Retail Association (IFRA)
- Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)
- Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)
- International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE)
- Investigative Consultants
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
- Merck & Co., Inc.
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce
- Michigan Retailers Association (MRA)
- Michigan Trucking Association (MTA)
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)
- Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA)
- Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA)
- Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM)
- Philip Morris International (PMI)
- Procter & Gamble Company
- Tommy Hilfiger
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
The coalition will operate in eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
“Counterfeit and smuggled goods pose serious threats in many states, and the situation has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with criminals seizing on opportunities to traffic in counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) and medications—including vaccines. Since January 2020, the sale of online counterfeit goods has jumped nearly 40 percent,” said USA-IT spokesman and former director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Matt Albence.
“In today’s hyper-connected world—with growing worries about global security, the proliferation of criminal organizations, and a surge of new digital tools—concerted efforts and broad public-private cooperation are vital for implementing meaningful, long-term solutions against illegal trade,” added Albence.
The black market is a $509 billion a year business, and it’s growing. Criminals get rich from illegal trade by robbing revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans. Instead of helping taxpayers, that money is used to fund those who illegally traffic in drugs, tobacco, wildlife, and even people. These groups exploit governments and citizens, manipulate financial systems, spur corruption, and cultivate instability and violence that threaten our communities.
No one government or single industry can address this complex problem on its own. Tackling illegal trade requires cooperation and public-private partnerships and fully utilizing existing expertise, information sharing, innovative solutions, and evolving technologies. Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play.
Posted June 8, 2021
Source: United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT)