Eighty percent of fake goods which enter EU come from China

By EuAsiaNews

Brussels : The good news is that India is off the European Union’s radar when it comes to trade in counterfeit and pirated goods.

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The less welcome news is that Indian exporters are probably facing competition on the 27-nation EU market from unscrupulous traders in fake goods.

Global trade in fake goods is running at some $200 billion a year; and this does not include fakes produced and consumed locally, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

EU customs officials seized more than 128 million counterfeit and pirated goods in 2006, up 70 percent from 2005, the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, told the Global Anti-Counterfeit Summit which met in Brussels on Monday.

He pointed out that some 80 percent of the counterfeit goods intercepted while en route to the EU, were made in China.

The United Arab Republics (UAE) ranked high on the EU’s list as a top transit route for fake goods. Other countries on the list included Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey as well as some countries from South East Asia and South America.

“Unless we successfully engage China, then everything else we do is a mere side-show,” Barroso told the conference in his keynote address as head of the EU’s executive arm, which shares responsibility with the EU countries for keeping counterfeit and pirated goods out of the EU..

The picture was not entirely bleak, however. “There appears to be a sea-change in Chinese attitudes to intellectual property issues,” the Commission President went on. This was “partly because Chinese residents want to protect their own innovations.”

As a result, “between 1995 and 2005 patent filings by the Chinese themselves rose by 800 percent.”

For the head of the EU’s executive arm there is “an increasingly worrying – even frightening – trend: the high price consumers pay when they buy fake goods.” He noted that “the days when trade in fake goods meant shifty men with a suitcase full of Rolexes is over.”

“Counterfeiting is now taking place on an industrial scale,” noted Barroso. Some fakes require technical expertise to identify them, they are so convincing.

Meanwhile counterfeiting has moved well beyond T-shirts and other garments. Fakes today include toys, foodstuffs, electrical appliances, medicines and even parts for motor vehicles and aircraft, the European Commission President pointed out..

Cooperation between the United States and the EU is already bearing fruit. Their customs officials recently seized 360,000 counterfeit integrated circuits, bearing more than 40 different trade marks.

“As long as consumers think they are getting a good deal, the trade in fakes will continue,” even though “fakes cost more,” according to Barroso. Hence the importance of consumer education, highlighting the risks to consumers’ health and safety.

But the European Commission has also drawn up proposals that will make intentional infringement of intellectual property rights on a commercial scale a criminal offence.

The Global AntiCounterfeiting Summit was organized by the Authentics Foundation, an international non-governmental organization which seeks to raise public awareness of the negative aspects of counterfeit marketing.

Its four founders include an American academic, Frederick Mostert, who is a guest professor at Peking University, and Chen Xuemin, a partner in a Chinese law office located in Beijing.