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Maersk Says it Won’t Ship Counterfeit Goods


Counterfeiting has been an ongoing problem for brands—though a more pressing one of late as Alibaba’s counterfeit controversy carries on, and more brands and organizations get on board with stopping the exchange of counterfeit merchandise.

Now major shippers are saying they won’t transport counterfeit goods.

Maersk Line and CMA CGM signed a joint Declaration of Intent to Prevent Maritime Transport of Counterfeit Goods last week, a first for the global shipping sector, a statement from the International Chamber of Commerce in Belgium noted.

Two freight forwarders, Kuehne and Nagel (which, together, handle roughly half of all global shipping), also signed on to the Declaration.

The voluntary declaration reacts to brand owners’ concerns that ships toting their legitimate products are also transporting fake versions. It calls on the maritime transportation sector to address the adverse impacts of counterfeits on international trade by implementing a zero tolerance policy on counterfeiting, strict supply chain controls and checks to prevent cooperation with those who might be dealing in counterfeit trade.

Nearly 90 percent of international trade is moved in more than 500 million containers on 89,000 maritime vessels, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and less than 2 percent of those containers are inspected to verify contents.

“This results in enormous opportunities for criminal networks to abuse this critical supply chain channel to transport huge volumes of counterfeit products affecting virtually every product sector,” the ICC statement noted.

A recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union Intellectual Property Office report said $461 billion worth of counterfeits passed through international trade in 2013 and nearly 10 percent of it was shipped on maritime vessels.

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Maersk Line said it has been a leader in making strides to prevent the use of its vessels for shipping counterfeits and other illicit goods, and that it’s proud to count itself among the first in the sector to sign the Declaration.

“This Declaration is a reaffirmation of our intent to do everything we can to ensure our ships are counterfeit free,” Maersk Line customs and trade compliance lead, Michael Jul Hansen, said.

Chanel, Lacoste and Dupont are among the brands that have signed onto the Declaration, which also counts the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) among its signatories.

“Today marks a significant milestone in work protecting the integrity of our supply chain and combating illicit trade,” said Matteo Mattei from Philip Morris International, also a Declaration signatory. “Closer collaboration with vessel owners and freight forwarders is key to preventing abuses and achieving sustainable results.