China remains the biggest source of counterfeit goods imported into the European Union, a new report states.
More than 31 million products were confiscated by customs officials in 2017, of which 73 percent originated in the People’s Republic of China, according to an annual report published by the European Communism on Sept. 27. The total value of the items would be 580 million euros ($669 million), if they were authentic.
The knockoff products were confiscated for suspected violations of copyright, patents, and brand trademarks, the report said. The largest category of counterfeited items was food products (24 percent of the total), followed by toys and cigarettes at 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Seven percent of the seized goods were clothing items.
According to the report, Hong Kong, at No. 2, accounted for about 10 percent of the faked products. The third-biggest source, Turkey, provided less than 5 percent of the total.
Hong Kong and China were noted as the top two sources for export counterfeit mobile phones and accessories, CDs and DVDs, and office supplies such as ink cartridges, toner, labels, tags, and stickers.
“The EU’s Customs Union is on the front line when it comes to protecting citizens from fake, counterfeit and sometimes highly dangerous goods,” said Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, in the report. “Stopping imports of counterfeits into the EU also supports jobs and the wider economy as a whole. The European Union stands in support of intellectual property and will continue our campaign to protect consumer health as well as protecting businesses from criminal infringement of their rights.”
Aside from Europe, the U.S. market is one of the key destinations for knockoff goods. According to a 2017 report on the seizure of counterfeits by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the total value of fakes originating from Hong Kong and China seized by customs agents that year would be about $940 million if the goods had been authentic.
Counterfeit goods cost Germany’s economy about 30 billion euros (about $36.7 billion) annually, according to a report by Deutsche Welle. In 2016 alone, European customs officials seized more than 41 million intellectual property-infringing goods, estimated at a value of 670 million euros (about $820 million), according to Aktion Plagiarius. China was the top country of origin for those goods.
Washington has accused the Chinese regime of longstanding protectionism and massive theft of intellectual property from American companies. In July, President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a U.S.–EU trade agreement in which both parties would “work toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” according to a joint statement by the two leaders.