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Brussels, 31 May 2007

Customs: Commission publishes 2006 Customs seizures of counterfeit goods

(see also MEMO/07/214)

Statistics just published by the European Commission show a significant increase in the amount of counterfeit and pirated articles seized at the EU's external borders in 2006. Customs officials seized more than 250 million of such articles in 2006 compared with 75 million in 2005 and 100 million in 2004. Medicines, cigarettes and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities. Changes in the routes used by criminals to trade in fake goods, the use of the internet and the transport of small quantities by air or postal traffic make customs job even more challenging. However, customs' reply has never been as high as in 2006 with more than 36.000 seizures, an increase of around 40% compared with 2005.

"Counterfeiting continues to constitute a dangerous threat for our health, safety and the economy" warns EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács. "I welcome the work done so far by the customs national administrations. However, I encourage all stakeholders to continue to cooperate and take actions at all appropriate levels: business, national customs administrations, police and other enforcement authorities. The public also has a responsibility here by not being tempted by the cheap fake holiday bargain. International customs cooperation with our major trading partners, in particular China (and India) needs to be further implemented."

Close cooperation between customs has inevitably played a role in the increase in seizures made during 2006. A good example of the fruitful results of targeted cooperation is the successful outcome of Operation DAN, which was carried out in September 2006. A total of 92 containers were seized, containing a wide range of products including fake toys, sunglasses, shoes and imitation car parts.

This joint operation took place over three weeks in the autumn of 2006 and involved ports in 13 EU Member States. It was co-ordinated by the European Commission and controls were focused on counterfeit goods from China.

This joint operation was part of the Commission's Customs Action Plan to combat counterfeiting and piracy (see latest developments in IP/06/1541).

The 2006 statistics show that:

  • There was an overall 330% increase in 2006 in the number of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by Customs at the external borders of the EU – 250 million compared to 75 million in 2005.
  • Customs activity towards customs seizures has never been so high with an increase of almost 40% – almost 37,000 compared to 26,000 in 2005 – in the number of seizures.
  • There has also been a significant increase in cases involving fewer articles. This could be explained by the fact that more traffic has been detected in postal and air traffic, due to booming internet sales.
  • China remains the main source for counterfeit goods, with over 80 % of all articles seized coming from there.
  • More than 60% of the articles seized in 2006 were cigarettes.
  • Although cigarettes represent such a large proportion of all seizures, seizures of other products also increased dramatically since the previous year. The amount of goods seized in 2006, other than cigarettes, was more than double the equivalent amount in 2005. This is also a reflection of the trend towards diversification in the products that are subject to counterfeiting and piracy.
  • In particular, medicines have shown a dramatic increase in seizures – 2,5 million items compared to 500,000 items in 2005. India is the number one source, followed by the United Arab Emirates and China. Together these 3 sources are responsible for more than 80 % of all counterfeit medicines.

For more information on the 2006 Customs seizures of counterfeited goods see:

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