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Pharmacists’ syndicate warns of faulty drugs - Monday, September 15, 2008
Statistics conducted by international companies specialized in this field show that in 2008 the global market for counterfeit drugs is estimated at $73.5 billion, $22 billion of which are in the Egyptian market alone.
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Egyptian cops seize pirated ‘Da Vinci Code’ DVDs - Saturday, June 03, 2006
Police seized 2,000 pirated DVDs of "The Da Vinci Code" Saturday as an official from the Egyptian Coptic Christian church demanded that the Hollywood film be banned from the country's movie theaters.
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Inside the fake Viagra factory - Tuesday, August 23, 2005
It may look like any building site, but it is the squalid factory where counterfeit Viagra is produced. The fake pills are stored on dirty plastic sheeting, while the cement mixer is used to dye them blue.
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Copyright pirates thrive in Egypt - Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Egypt's reputation as a centre for the piracy of copyrighted material worsened in 2004. Despite improvements in copyright law, enforcement is lacking. During 2004, organized crime syndicates reportedly were able to reinforce their position with retail markets and flooded these distribution channels with pirated product.
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Egypt Minimize
According to global illicit market index, Havocscope, in 2008 Egypt’s counterfeit market value amounted to $149.3 million, top of the list of offenders being video games and software. The 2007 Global Software Piracy study, released May 2008, gives Egypt a piracy rate of 60%, equalling a loss of $131 million and putting the country in fourth place in the Middle East and Africa Region. Clumped together with countries such as India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Algeria, Egypt is steadily becoming the rising star of the counterfeit industry and in a variety of areas. Egypt is now also one of the countries causing most concern to the US Patent and Trademark Office due to its burgeoning counterfeit industry, which is reaching out across the globe.

A wide range of products are being counterfeited in Egypt but the counterfeit drugs industry is earning the country particular notoriety as a manufacturing and packaging base. Many countries, the US included, have sourced their influx of counterfeit drugs, such as Viagra, back to Egypt. According to figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Egypt supplies around 7% of all global pharmaceutical counterfeits, with China coming in third at 6% and a whopping 75% for India. Although there is a big discrepancy between India and Egypt’s counterfeit drug profile, the figures still show that Egypt has a problem that is being picked up on globally and tarnishes the county’s reputation.

The counterfeit drugs aren’t just being exported; they are also ending up on drugstore shelves in the country itself. A 2008 report carried out under the supervision of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations found that Egyptians spend approximately $187m on counterfeit drugs every year, which accounts for up to 10% of the country’s total annual drug spend.

Current legislation and action against counterfeiters
The Egyptian government has recently started paying closer attention to the issue of IP protection. Reforms in IP law have been enthusiastically discussed among ministries, industries, interest groups and foreign trade delegations – naturally the opinions of the latter having a major role to play in this sudden enthusiasm to improve the country’s IP law. Negotiations for a free trade agreement between the US and Egypt, which would greatly boost the economy, could of course be jeopardized if Egypt is not seen to be proactive in preventing IP law infringement on its own turf.

The Intellectual Property Law of 2002 harmonised Egypt IP legislation with the rest of the developed world. One of the changes made reflects the rising concern about Egypt’s problem with counterfeit drugs. Two other major areas of change are provisional measures and border controls.

Taken as a whole, Egyptian IP law mirrors the provisions of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and brought Egypt inline with IP legislation in US and Europe. However, several grey areas in the Agreement, deliberately left to the individual countries to tailor make specific provisions such as border and enforcement measures and the protection of famous marks, allow too much scope for interpretation and flabby enforcement measures.

Egyptian IP Law sets down a number of penalties, including prison terms, for persons making or selling counterfeit goods. Monetary penalties range from E£500 to E£50,000 (approximately $90 to $9,000), and terms of imprisonment range from two months to three years. Prison terms are mandatory only for repeat offences. These penalties have faced criticism for being insufficient deterrents, pushing Parliament to move to introduce new legislation focusing on consumer protection – the Consumer Protection Bill. The bill has been approved by Parliament and is expected to be enacted soon.

As an enhancing measure to the draft consumer protection bill, back in 2006 a Brand Protection Group was established in Egypt. Working in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry, the aim of the initiative was to heighten public awareness of fake products and the new punitive measures that were being put in place. Although emphasis was placed on educating customs workers and officials, the primary objective was to enlighten Egyptian consumers.

Click here to read more about copyright and IP law in Egypt.

Products to look out for
Counterfeit drugs
As stated above, Egypt faces a significant problem with counterfeit drugs; a problem that is being globally acknowledged and could impact negatively on the Egyptian international trade position and, ultimately, its economy. Coming second after India in counterfeit drugs production does not reflect well on the country. Back in 2008 Ahmed Gebril, Head of Alexandria’s Pharmacists’ Syndicate, warned consumers of faulty or repackaged expired drugs being sold in the market and told consumers to be wary of fake sales representatives trying to sell these repackaged, expired drugs.

In 2007 a warning was raised about a counterfeit version of the anti-depressant Cipralex, which had been found in pharmacies in Egypt. Incriminating photographs are publicly available of a Viagra counterfeiting site where the tablets are being dyed blue in a cement mixer in manufacturing conditions that are clearly far from sterile.

Given the major problem with counterfeit drugs that Egypt is currently enduring, the best advice is to avoid buying pharmaceuticals here. If you are on prescription medication, take enough with you to tide you over. If you will need to get a repeat prescription whilst in Egypt, follow this useful information on how to avoid counterfeits.

Counterfeit printer cartridges
According to a 2005 Business Today article, “Counterfeit printer cartridges have Egyptian offices awash in sticky, low-quality toner — and bursting with frustrated purchasing managers.” Authorized dealers attempted to defend themselves by spreading the word that while they remain more expensive, genuine supplies will save companies thousands in printer repairs and replacements but the problem was compounded by the fact that counterfeiters were selling the fakes very close to the price of the original so consumers were unsuspecting and largely ignorant that they were being duped. At the time, it was estimated that 50% of the Egyptian printer cartridge market was counterfeit and, although this was a while back the counterfeits are continuing to show up en masse in authority raids. Click here for detailed advice on avoiding counterfeit fake ink cartridges.

Counterfeit electrical products
In 2004, counterfeit circuit breakers were blamed for causing, or rather not preventing, major fires in Cairo. When it comes to counterfeit electrical equipment, any notions one might harbour of counterfeiting being a victimless crime go out the window. Egypt has previous experience of counterfeit electrical products such as circuit breakers, and consumers should be on their guard when purchasing such items. House fires in Egypt have been linked to the failure of counterfeit circuit breakers to protect electrical circuits from overcurrent or short circuits. So be careful when buying any kind of electrical equipment, even if it’s only a plug adapter. All electrical appliances in Egypt run on 220 volts and the outlets are designed for a two-pronged cylindrical plug. So if your travel appliances are not dual voltage, make sure you take along a standard voltage converter and adapter plugs.

Counterfeit apparel
Although China remains the main source of counterfeit clothing, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Algeria and Egypt figured prominently in customs seizures for 2006 and 2007. In January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than 19,000 articles of counterfeit clothing from a container that came in on a ship from Egypt. Maybe Egypt’s position as a major manufacturing base for many luxury brands renders it vulnerable to items ‘slipping out the back door’ or just makes it easier for the counterfeiters to gain insider knowledge of what is being produced. Counterfeit branded items are readily available in the Cairo shops and you may encounter traders trying hard to convince you that the, say, Nike or Addidas trainers they are retailing at $12 USD are in fact genuine. Don’t be fooled; the price is a giveaway but often so is the workmanship. Probably the greatest concern with counterfeit apparel is the association with criminal activity, so use your common sense when shopping and avoid funding illegal activities that affect a country’s reputation and ultimately its economy and people.

Egyptian cotton sheets
Egypt is famous for its cotton and ‘Egyptian Cotton’ is actually a registered trademark logo created jointly by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Alexandria Cotton Exporters Association (ALCOTEXA). Like all popular brands, ‘Egyptian Cotton’ has been hijacked by the counterfeiters. Inexpensive mills in Asia and elsewhere churn out cotton sheets produced using small quantities of Egyptian cotton mixed with their own inferior short staple cotton, flooding the world market and passing them off as pure Egyptian cotton. Consumers should realise that inexpensive sheets labelled 100% Egyptian cotton are more than likely not pure Egyptian cotton, and therefore inferior.
Look out for the genuine Egyptian Cotton logo which features a pyramid shape symbolizing the Great Pyramid of Giza, in the centre of which is a picture of a cotton ball (click here for a link to an image of this logo). As with most anything, a low price is often a key indicator and the rule is always buyer beware. Lastly, always look for a reputable seller. Consumers should look to sellers who display the 100 percent Egyptian cotton logo and are recognized by organizations like the Better Business Bureau.

Fake antiques
Being a seat of ancient civilisation also encourages the producers of fake antiquities. The problem with these kinds of items is that the fakes are notoriously difficult to spot and have even ended up being displayed in museums. If you are at all interested in buying ‘antiques ’ make sure you know the distinction between a relic, replica or fake. Click here for a useful website detailing how you can avoid landing yourself with a fake antique item.

Shopping in Cairo

Cairo abounds with fantastic shopping opportunities, from sprawling market places to modern shopping malls. Virtually any item from any part of Egypt can be found for sale somewhere in Cairo and finding great souvenirs and gifts is a cinch.

Popular gift ideas include wooden backgammon boards, jewellery boxes, lamps, traditional stripy rugs, pottery and silk shawls. Painted papyrus is usually fairly cheap, but it’s mostly banana leaves that have been painted on rather than genuine papyrus. Traditional Egyptian jewellery is also widely available and affordable in Cairo; a number of gold and silver shops lie around the ancient shopping district of Khan al-Khalili (see below), where most pieces are simply sold by weight, with a small charge for craftsmanship potentially added on.

Khan al-Khalili

The Khan-al Khalili Bazaar; a warren of winding streets, medieval arches and twisting alleyways, jam-packed with shops stalls and carts. Built by the 45th king of The Ottoman Turks, Fatih Okan Pasa, the bazaar feels like the heart of this city and you could easily spend hours or even days absorbing all the sites and sounds. It’s also a wonderful place to sit down for a drink, maybe smoke a shisha pipe and watch the world go by.
Brass ornaments, beautiful mosaics, perfume shops giving off a heady scent of spices and flowers, plush Egyptian rugs; the essence of real Egypt is all here. Be prepared to bargain shamelessly for anything you purchase here and aim for a price around 1/3 of what the seller first quotes (see Bargaining Tips below). Though Friday is the Muslim holy day, many shops are open (Sundays see a lot of closings however).

Other traditional bazaars and shops
Some of Cairo's best markets include the Bulaq Market at the northern end of the Sharia 26th of July, in the Bulaq area, and both the Sharia al-Muski and Souq al-Gomaa markets, in Islamic Cairo. When it comes to individual shops selling local handicrafts, Khan Misr Touloun comes highly recommended. Located just in front of the Mosque Ibn Touloun, this is the only shop in the area selling handicrafts and sells a fantastic array of pottery, glass, leather masks, silver, cards, books, dolls, handbags, clothes, and much more.

For fabrics, including genuine Egyptian cotton sheets, try Wekalet al Balah located in the old neighbourhood of Boulak Abu Al Ela, with a whole area dedicated to selling fabric. Here you can get fabrics half the price you’ll pay in individual shops.

For appliqué work, head for the Tent-Maker’s Bazaar. Built in 1650, this is the city’s only surviving covered market and well worth a visit even if you are all shopped out. Outlets lining the narrow alley sell handmade cotton appliqué on items such as pillow cases, cushions and quilts. Remember to check the stitching carefully as the quality can vary.

City Stars
Located between Nasr City and Heliopolis and with five floors dedicated to retail and a 12-screen cinema at the top, City Stars epitomizes our modern consumer needs, whilst also paying homage to the traditional notions of Egypt. Built with an Ancient Egyptian theme, it consists of 3 pyramids (partially glass), surrounded by 11 towers, that make up the complex, plus a separate building for the shopping mall. All your famous brands are here plus Egyptian ones as well. Magic Galaxy - the biggest indoor playground with children's amusement rides is housed here and connected to the mall is a 5-star hotel and business offices.

Arkadia Mall
Apparently this is the largest shopping mall in Cairo. Situated in Corniche Al-Nil, Boulaq, it houses all the usual international brands, plus a good food court, bars and an ice rink. The interior is interesting to say the least, aiming for a ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’ feel.

First Residence Mall
Located at 35 Sharia al-Giza, at the First Residence Mall here you can find well-known international designer labels at lower prices than in Europe. Versace, Bvlgari, Aigner and Egypt-based brands such as Concrete Clothes and Maghrebi Optics are all represented here. Bargain hunters on the look out for good deals on genuine brands can get lucky here.

Talaat Harb Shopping Complex
Located in the heart of the downtown district and especially popular with young 'Cairenes', the Talaat Harb Shopping Complex is most famous for its good food court and offers a range of fashion boutiques with low cost clothing.

Camel bazaar
The camel bazaar (souq al-gamal) is held every Friday beyond Sharia Sudan in the west of the city and although you are probably not planning to make a purchase here, it’s a wonderful to behold these majestic beasts and a great photo opportunity. Go early in the morning to get the most out of this bazaar.

Bargaining Tips
The bargaining can get somewhat rabid in Cairo so it’s good to have a few tips on how to stay cool, stick your ground and walk away having made a good deal:
Step one: you’ll probably be offered tea by the shopkeeper; feel free to accept and this doesn’t obligate you to buy it’s just the tradition.
Step two: Seller gives you a price, which you halve. Remember to stay calm and polite and keep it light-hearted and friendly
Step three: You can potentially walk away at this stage; it’s a good way of getting the price down quickly.
Step four: If the price is now down to about 1/3 of what the seller originally gave you, you have struck a good deal. Don’t haggle over tiny amounts; convert the price into your own currency to give you a better idea of how much you are dealing with.
Leave if the price remains too high, or you decide you don’t want the item, there will be ample opportunities just around the corner.
Cairo Shopping: Opening Hours
Most shops in Cairo are open from Monday to Thursday and also at the weekends, although some of the city's shops do remain closed on Sundays.

Daytime shopping hours are reduced during the hot summer months, when shops close during the heat of the day, reopening in late afternoon and remaining open until 22:00 or later. Shopping hours during Ramadan work in a similar way.

The local currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. The currency is often written as LE (short for French livre égyptienne) or by using the pound sign £. In Arabic the pound is called gunaih (جنيه).

Banknotes are available in all denominations ranging from 200 pounds to the thoroughly useless 5 piastres. Although counterfeit or obsolete notes are not a major problem, there was a spate of counterfeit LE 50, 100 and 200 notes found back in 2008 (click here to read more about this) so avoid changing money on the streets because you might get ripped off. Change your money at exchange offices or banks. You can pay in dollars or euros at many high-end hotels. Note that exchanging pounds outside the country can be difficult.
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Thank you so much for these country profiles. This kind of information is hard to find, but is very useful for professionals in the anticounterfeiting fight.      8/7/2009 7:49:54 PM
Why are there so many fake or counterfeit Lister-Petter spare parts, gensets and engines in Nigeria. This is destroying people''s health and dealers on these fake parts and engines rip people off their money everyday as these products do not last. There are only 2 authorised distributors for Lister Petter UK in Nigeria.      5/12/2009 10:37:16 PM
Counterfeit Goods manufacturer in Vietnam!
This company in Vietnam is manufacturing and selling Counterfeit goods worldwide : Sport 21 Manufacturer Ltd Address : Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 8 Huu Nghi Avenue, Thuan An Dist, Binh Duong, Vietnam. Business Registration Number : 52/473829H/03/BD The mentioned in their website : Ralph Lauren Polo T-Shirts / Nike Sports Shoes / Nike Caps / Armani & Chanel Sunglasses / Speedo Swim Products / Billabong Wetsuits / Gucci Handbags / Wallets and etc Website address :

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