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IP/08/757

Brussels, 19 May 2008

Customs: Commission publishes 2007 Customs seizures of counterfeit goods at the EU's external border

(see also MEMO/08/310)

Statistics just published by the European Commission relating to counterfeit and piracy show a significant increase in customs activity last year. In 2007, customs registered over 43,000 cases of fake goods seized at the EU's external border, compared to 37,000 in 2006. This results notably from improved cooperation between customs and industry, enabling customs to better target suspected shipments and to recognize counterfeit goods. Despite this, the number of articles seized decreased from last year's peak of 128 million articles to around 79 million. This is due to a growing number of seizures involving smaller quantities of counterfeit and pirated articles. However, cigarettes and clothing continue to be faked in large quantities and there has been a worrying increase in sectors that are potentially dangerous to consumers (medicines, electrical equipment, personal care products).

"Counterfeiting continues to pose a dangerous threat to our health, safety and our economy." warns EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács. "One of my priority objectives remains to achieve progress in this field. Therefore, I welcome the close cooperation between industry and customs to stop suspicious shipments of counterfeited goods at the border before they disappear in the internal market. Due to technical improvements and the use of more sophisticated ways in producing counterfeit goods, input from industry to detect them is vital for the customs. I am also happy with the progress recently made with China to strengthen international cooperation (IP/08/166) with the aim of stopping this problem at its source'.

The 2007 statistics show that:

  • Customs seizures have never been so high, with an increase of almost 17% – over 43 000 cases registered, compared to 37,000 in 2006.
  • Cooperation with industry has never been better with more than 10,000 applications (7,000 in 2006) filled in by the industry to request customs actions in cases where there is a suspicion that products are being counterfeited. This represents 80% of the customs interventions in 2007.
  • There was an overall decrease in 2007 in the actual number of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by customs – 79 million compared to 128 million in 2006. This decrease is due to lesser articles being seized in 2 particular sectors (cigarettes and CD/DVDs). In all other sectors, there are significant increases compared to 2006 and in particular:
  • cosmetics and personal care: +264%;
  • toys: +98%
  • medicines: +51%.
  • In general, customs seizures involve fewer articles by case than in the past. An explanation for this could be due to increased internet sales and to the fact that the counterfeiters are taking fewer risks and sending smaller quantities per shipment, in particular via air/express courier and mail transport which represent almost 70% of customs interventions.
  • China remains the main source of counterfeit goods, with almost 60 % of all articles seized coming from there. However, in some categories of products, such as article for personal care, other countries such as Georgia and Turkey are the main sources, whilst Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates top the list for exports of fake medicines (respectively 40, 35 and 15% of the total amount seized)
  • Cigarettes and clothing continue to represent a large proportion of all seizures comprising respectively 35% and 22% of the total amount of articles seized.
  • In particular, medicines seizures have shown a dramatic increase of over 50%.
  • Computer or internet-based piracy of copyright media, such as music, movies or software is also a significant problem, but because these activities usually have no link to the border, customs is not so involved in fighting this form of Intellectual Property infringement.

For more information on the 2007 Customs seizures of counterfeited goods see:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/customs_controls/counterfeit_piracy/statistics/index_en.htm


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