Trade in counterfeit goods that pose health, safety and environmental risks

This study quantitatively assesses the scope and trends of the trade in counterfeit products that pose health, safety and environmental threats. It is based on an analysis of a unique international set of customs seizure data and other enforcement data, combined with structured interviews with enforcement experts.

 

Trade in counterfeit goods is a major risk for today’s global economy. It not only strikes at the heart of the engine of sustainable economic growth, but also poses significant risks to health, safety and the environment. This report builds on previous analysis, presenting detailed, quantitative information on the value of illicit trade in fake goods that can pose health risks (e.g. fake pharmaceuticals or food products), safety risks (e.g. counterfeit automotive spare parts, fake batteries) and environmental risks (e.g. fake chemicals or pesticides).

  

Main findings

In principle, all counterfeit goods are risky and can pose some threats to users. To take into account different degrees of risk, the study introduces two specific approaches to determine the scope of dangerous fakes.

The broad approach considers the goods that need to meet product specific safety standards. Using this approach, one finds that apparel products, automotive spare parts, optical and medical apparatuses, as well as pharmaceuticals are the most frequently occurring dangerous counterfeits. China and Hong Kong are the largest identified exporters of dangerous fakes, accounting for more than three-quarters of seizures. Postal parcels – driven by the rising popularity of e-commerce – are the most common method of shipping dangerous fakes, significantly complicating screening and detection processes and lowering the risk of detection and penalties. The European Union and the United States were the main destination economies of the small parcels containing dangerous goods.

A more focused, narrow approach looks only at foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and goods’ categories that have been most frequently subject of safety alerts and recalls. This approach reveals that the most commonly traded product categories of dangerous fakes were perfumery and cosmetics, clothing, toys, automotive spare parts and pharmaceuticals. Most of these goods originated in China (55% of global customs seizures) and Hong Kong (19%). 60% of dangerous goods seized were shipped by postal services, while sea was the dominant transport mode in terms of seized value.

 
Resources
Full report Show Hide
EN
 
Executive summary Show Hide
BG
 
CS
 
DA
 
DE
 
EL
 
EN
 
ES
 
ET
 
FI
 
FR
 
HU
 
HR
 
IT
 
LT
 
LV
 
MT
 
NL
 
PL
 
PT
 
RO
 
SK
 
SL
 
SV
 
Press release Show Hide
ES
 
DE
 
EN
 
FR
 
IT
 
NL