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Report Reveals Customs Authorities Detained More Than 41 Million Fake and Counterfeit Products at EU Borders in 2016

On 20 July 2017, the European Commission published the results of customs actions taken at the EU’s external borders during 2016. The report contains statistical information about the detentions made under customs procedures and includes data on the description, quantities and value of the goods, their provenance, the means of transport and the type of intellectual property rights (IPR) that may have been infringed.

Hong Kong manufacturers that export products to the EU such as toys, clothing, textiles, fashion items, jewellery, watches and mobile phones may be interested in the report’s findings.

Customs administrations in the EU have been known for their high standard of enforcement in this field. In 2016, customs authorities made over 63,000 detentions, consisting of a total of 41.3 million articles. The domestic retail value of the detained articles represented more than 672 million euros.

The statistics are established by the European Commission, based on the data transmitted by the Member State administrations, in accordance with the relevant EU customs legislation. The statistics provide useful information to support the analysis of such infringements in the EU and the development of appropriate counter-measures by customs.

Mainland China continues to be the main country of provenance from where goods suspected of infringing an IPR were sent to the EU. In considering the different product categories, some other countries also appear as the main country of provenance, notably Singapore for alcoholic beverages, in addition to Hong Kong for mobile phones and accessories and CDs/DVDs.

The top categories of detained articles include toys (17%), packaging materials (12%) and other goods (8%). Items such as clothing, mobile phone accessories, bags, wallets, purses, watches, mobile phones and CDs/DVDs feature in the top categories by article.

Furthermore, in terms of procedure, the top three categories remain almost exactly the same as in the previous year (2015) namely sports shoes, clothing and non-sports shoes. The top categories are typically goods that are to be ordered online and shipped via post or courier.

In over 86% of all cases, customs action was started whilst the goods concerned were under an import procedure. In more than 11% of the cases, goods were discovered whilst being in transit with a destination in the Union, and in 1% of the cases goods were under an export procedure with a destination outside the EU.

As to means of transport, although detentions in postal traffic went down 28%, courier traffic and postal traffic together still accounted for 73% of all detentions. The types of articles detained are mainly consumer articles ordered via e-commerce such as shoes and clothing accessories.

Products for daily use and products that would be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers (such as body care articles, electrical household goods, and toys) comprised 34.2% of the total amount of detained articles. This is a significant increase when compared to 25.8% in 2015.

In 82% of the detention procedures initiated by customs, the goods were destroyed after the owner of the goods and the right-holder agreed on destruction. In 8% of the detentions a court case was launched to determine the infringement, or as part of criminal proceedings.

Upon publication of the findings, Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said “fake goods pose a real threat to health and safety of EU consumers […]. Studies show that the EU is particularly exposed to imports of counterfeit products.  I want to pay tribute to the hard work of customs authorities in combating these fake goods. They need support and resources to enable them to protect us all from the dangers that they can pose. Cooperation between law enforcement authorities should be strengthened and risk management systems upgraded to protect the EU from goods infringing intellectual property rights.”

Please click on the following to view the Report.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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