Global economy

The biggest counterfeit customers

14/04/2022 PNG

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated trade in dangerous fake goods. This is particularly the case for counterfeit medicines and medical equipment where broken supply chains and strong demand was met with limited capacities of law enforcement to intercept. Instances of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines have also been recently reported, posing a serious threat to the vaccination programmes.

As well as being damaging for economic growth and fueling organised crime, counterfeits also create health, safety and environmental risks to consumers. Legitimate suppliers must comply with regulations to make sure their products are safe, but counterfeiters are not bound by these. Counterfeit menstrual care products, for example, may be exposed to bacterial contamination, while counterfeit cigarettes may contain banned toxic ingredients.

The United Sates and the European Union countries were the main destination economies of counterfeit dangerous goods during 2017-19. Over a third of global seizures of dangerous goods were destined to the United States, while the European countries most were Germany (21%), Belgium (9%), Italy (6%) and Denmark (3%). China and Hong Kong account for more than three-quarters of counterfeit product seizures.

Governments must have a broad view of this problem in order to facilitate the development of innovative policy options and promote clean trade in the COVID-19 recovery.

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