In UK, more than half of fake good purchases are deliberate

New figures estimate that £13.6bn ($17.5bn) of counterfeit and pirated goods were imported into the UK in 2016, and more than half were bought by people who knew they were fake.

The data released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also put the number of job losses in 2016 resulting from the trade in counterfeits at 86,000, with almost 18,000 of that total from the clothing sector alone.

The value of counterfeit British goods sold worldwide came in at £16.2bn, more than 3 per cent of the UK’s total exports.

“UK goods particularly targeted by counterfeiters include perfumes, cosmetics, clothing, footwear, leather goods, telecoms equipment, electronic goods, cars and motorbikes,” says the OECD.

The most common imported fakes include mobile phones and accessories, clothes, footwear, handbags, and games, robbing UK businesses of more than £9bn in foregone sales – equivalent to 2.7 per cent of the total wholesale/retail sector.

OECD’s figures reveal a sizeable increase in 2016 compared to 2013 figures, which put the value of counterfeit imports at £9.3bn and knock-off UK goods sold worldwide at £13.4bn.

“These findings clearly show the need for ‎continued vigilance and for the strengthening of measures to counter illicit trade in the UK and abroad,” said OECD public governance director Marcos Bonturi.

“Good governance is an essential element of this equation. Countries need to work together if they want to win the fight against illicit trade and against all other illicit activities linked to it,” he added.

All told, the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods resulted in a reduction in UK public revenues equal to almost £4bn, up from £3.8bn in 2013.

The finding that so many UK consumers were aware they were buying counterfeits is particularly worrying, as it suggests messages about the consequences – such as health risks, funding organised crime, encouraging exploitation of vulnerable workers and threatening the livelihood of legitimate manufacturers – are not getting through or being ignored.

“The share of fakes bought knowingly in the UK varies significantly by product, ranging from 33 per cent for foodstuff to 59 per cent for clothing, footwear, leather and related products,” says the report.

It also found that more than the half of the goods traded worldwide that infringed UK intellectual property (IP) rights were offered on secondary markets, in other words they were openly sold as fakes to consumers.

Once again, the share varies among product categories, ranging from 11 per cent for basic metal and fabricated metal products to 67 per cent for watches and jewellery.

China and Hong Kong continued to be far and away the most common source of counterfeit goods that infringe UK companies’ IP rights, but India has dropped from second place in 2013 to ninth place, and Thailand has rocketed up the rankings to position three.

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