EU customs authorities confiscated an estimated €1 billion in counterfeit goods last year, the European Commission said on Monday (5 August), with China the main source of fake merchandise destined for EU retailers.
Most of the detained goods were cigarettes (30%), followed by packaging materials (9.84%) and clothing (8.51%).
China was the largest exporter of counterfeit products (64.5%) last year, the Commission said in a statement. Hong Kong was a main source for electronic cigarettes and the liquid fillings used in them, EU member Bulgaria for packaging materials.
“Customs is the EU's first line of defence against fake products which undermine legal businesses,” Algirdas Šemeta, the commissioner for taxation and customs, said in a statement.
“Today's report shows the intensity and importance of the work being done by Customs in this field. I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual property rights in Europe, through our work with international partners, the industry and member states."
In addition to cigarettes and other goods, amongst the items seized were more than 700,000 counterfeit medicines and health goods such as condoms.
Products for daily use and products that would be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers – including food and beverages, body care articles, medicines, electrical household goods and toys - accounted for a total of 12.7% of the total amount of confiscated items.
Most of the items seized (60%) arrived by parcel post while 18% of goods arrived by plane and 8% by courier express.
In comparison to 2011, the number of goods seized declined from 115 million in 2011 to 40 million in 2012. However, the number of cases has remained stable at more than 90,000 and the domestic retail value of the goods remained at nearly €1 billion.
Authorities say the purchases of goods through the internet contribute to the high number of cases.
In most cases, the fraudulent items were destroyed.