U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have announced a joint initiative to prevent counterfeit and pirated goods from being imported into the country.
CBP executive assistant commissioner William A. Ferrara and U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark signed a memorandum of understanding on information sharing to enhance intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement.
“This memorandum of understanding establishes a first-of-its-kind framework for public-private collaboration on combatting counterfeit and pirated goods,” Ferrara said. “Information sharing between CBP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will strengthen our ability to defend intellectual property standards that generate American jobs, save lives and enhance our economic prosperity.”
Last week, CBP announced a new formal partnership arrangement with Nike Inc. as part of its Donations Acceptance Program. Under the partnership, Nike is donating proprietary technology to aid in authenticating a variety of its merchandise and to prevent counterfeit products from entering the United States. CBP and Nike, which has been a key target of millions of dollars of counterfeit sneakers over the years, will test the tool at a limited number of international mail and express consignment facilities.
CBP and the Chamber of Commerce intend to enhance the exchange of information concerning known or suspected IPR violations. They also plan to conduct joint training and outreach events, and to improve public awareness of efforts to disrupt the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, said in their memorandum.
“Business is proud to partner with law enforcement to prioritize solutions that eliminate counterfeit and pirated goods,” Clark said. “Fake goods have real consequences and consumers should have confidence they are getting what they pay for. Criminal networks are profiting from phony goods that expose Americans to potentially dangerous products, including illicit medicine, makeup, electronics, automotive parts and toys, to name just a few.”
The groups noted that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods generates more than $500 billion in illicit proceeds annually. Last fiscal year, CBP seized more than 26,500 shipments that contained millions of counterfeit items, including personal protective equipment, apparel, footwear, jewelry, pharmaceuticals, COVID-19 test kits and electronics.
“We seized approximately 12.7 million counterfeit masks…and 30,000 tablets of different medications [specific] to COVID-19,” Ferrara said at a press conference announcing the partnership. “About half of those seizures occurred in the express consignment environment and 24.4 percent were intercepted in international” shipments, with roughly half coming from China.
With the country on verge of an economic resurgence coming out of the pandemic, “it becomes all of our responsibility to figure out how to make that good for communities and families across this great country, and we believe a centerpiece of that can be this partnership,” Clark said.
“We have always felt that brand owners, shippers and Customs brokers, the payment processors, that there are all kinds of people saying what would a transparent information sharing network look like,” Clark said. “We’re delighted that we’re getting to a place here where we can share intelligence, where we can enable businesses to more readily identify the bad actors, pursue the course and recoup and protect their investments. We’re really proud about what we can bring to the table in terms of network and expertise to increase the perspectives of our members, but we know that it really takes the CBP to protect, to detect, to disrupt fraudulent trade activity…we really believe that public-private partnerships like this are the best way to promote economic resilience.”
Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and the livelihoods of American workers, CPB said. In some cases, counterfeit goods contain components or chemical additives that can harm consumers’ health and safety. The proceeds from sales of counterfeit goods fund criminal organizations engaged in drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, financial crime, and other illicit activities.