Cigarettes top 2018 list of EU counterfeit seizures

Customs officers seized 27m intellectual property-infringing items at the EU’s borders last year worth almost €740m – with cigarettes the most-intercepted product.

The haul continued the trend of a steady decline in the total number of items seized since 2016, but there was a spike in value from the €580m seized in 2018, as well as another sizeable increase in the proportion of items shipped in small packages to fulfil online sales.

Courier and postal traffic together accounted for 84 per cent of all detentions, according to the European Commission report.

By volume, 15 per cent of detained articles were cigarettes, followed by toys (14 per cent), IP-infringing packaging material and labels tags and stickers (9 per cent apiece), and clothing (8 per cent). Foods topped the list in 2017 but fell out of the top five last year to become the seventh most-intercepted products category, after other body care items.

By value, the top category was bags, wallets and purses (18 per cent), followed by watches (16 per cent), clothing (just over 15 per cent) sunglasses (11 per cent) and sports shoes (6 per cent).

China topped the list when it came to being the source country for IP-infringing goods, but accounted for just over half (50.5 per cent) of total seizures by volume, well down on the 73 per cent figure last year.

Bosnia and Herzegovina overtook Hong Kong as the second most common source country for the first time, making up 9.66 per cent and 9.43 per cent of all seizures, respectively.

North Macedonia was the main provenance for counterfeit alcoholic beverages, while Turkey was the top source for other beverages, perfumes and cosmetics, according to the report.

There was a high number of fake watches, mobile phones and accessories, ink cartridges and toners, CDs/DVDs, labels, tags and stickers from Hong Kong, and the main source for computer equipment was India, Cambodia for cigarettes and Bosnia and Herzegovina for packaging material.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: "Customs officers across the EU have seen success in tracking down and seizing counterfeit goods that are often dangerous for consumers. Their job is made even more difficult by the rise in small packages entering the EU through online sales."

He continued: "Protecting the integrity of our Single Market and Customs Union, and effective enforcement of intellectual property rights in the international supply chain are also priorities. We need to continue stepping up the efforts against counterfeiting and piracy."

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