Trade bodies in Scotland will unite to urge the authorities to crack down on duty fraud at a Parliamentary Reception in January.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation, Scottish Wholesale Association and Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group will argue that tackling the estimated billions of pounds lost through counterfeiting “should be a New Year’s Resolution”.

Inspector Alan Dron, chair of the Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Group, said: “Criminals have no scruples, all they care about is making money and it would be naive of anyone to think they care about the consequences of selling dangerous products to unwitting consumers.

“Those involved in illicit trade are very often implicated in other forms of serious organised crime, channelling the money made from selling illicit and counterfeit goods into drug dealing, human trafficking and money laundering.
 “Collectively, we can help tackle this problem through raising awareness and changing perceptions. We must influence the public not to buy illicit or counterfeit products while supporting legitimate businesses. This will make Scotland a hostile environment for serious organised criminals.”

Kate Salmon, executive director of the Scottish Wholesale Association, said: “The illicit trade of goods hurts Scottish businesses significantly, particularly Scottish wholesalers. In these challenging economic times, more and more people are turning to cheaper products which have been imported illegally or are counterfeit products. This is leading to lost profit for wholesalers who can no longer afford to subsume the cost of illicit trade. 

“Quite simply, the sale of these products can no longer be tolerated in Scotland and the SWA is determined to do everything within its power – alongside our partners in the law-enforcement and business communities – to counter this very serious problem.”

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, added: “Responsible retailers across Scotland are under threat because of the illicit trade of many of the products they sell. Responsible retailers are being hit hard in the pocket by criminals and rogue retailers undercutting shop prices and selling fake tobacco, alcohol and other products.

“Convenience stores operate at the heart of Scottish communities and to see jobs lost and shops threatened with closure due to the illicit trade and criminal behaviour is unacceptable. The SAITG is a real chance for us to stamp out illicit trade in Scotland.”