23 June 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Hong Kong, Albania and Panama among key counterfeit transit points

Hong Kong, Albania and Panama are among several key transit points for counterfeits entering Africa, the EU and the US, according to the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

A new EUIPO report, compiled in conjunction with the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, identified several locations that allow for easy transit in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

For the EU, alongside Albania are Egypt, Morocco and Ukraine. Hong Kong mainly deals in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and exports them worldwide, while Panama is the main transit point for fakes heading to the US.

The report contains an analysis of 10 economic sectors that are vulnerable to counterfeits, including foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, perfume and cosmetics, leather, clothing, footwear, jewellery, electronics, games and sports equipment.

Three quarters of these counterfeit products are transported by sea, while courier services and regular post services were used to move smaller counterfeit items.

China is the biggest producer of counterfeit goods, producing the most counterfeit goods in nine out of 10 key economic sectors. Other important producers include several Asian economies, India, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam. Turkey also appears as a producer of fake leather, foodstuffs and cosmetics, which are imported to the EU.

The 10 economic sectors analysed represented more than half of the total estimated trade in fake goods worldwide, with a value of more than €208 billion ($232 billion) in 2013.

Antonio Campinos, executive director of the EUIPO, said: “This research shows the depth and breadth of international trade routes in counterfeit and pirated goods across the world.”

“Our past studies have shown that practically any product or brand can be counterfeited—this report highlights the ways in which fake goods can be transported from one corner of the globe to the other.”

The report also highlighted organised criminal groups that were involved in IP rights crime, such as online-based criminal gangs that distribute counterfeit products that are manufactured abroad.

But goods are also becoming more widely available on online marketplaces, distributed via post directly to customers.

Rob Wainwright, Europol’s executive director, said: “Intellectual property crime is extensive in the EU and carries very many adverse effects.”

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