BRUSSELS – Around half of counterfeit objects seized by European Union customs agents last year were items from China.
Around 27 million fake goods were seized in 2018, with a street value of nearly €740 million, which increasingly arrived to the market through online shopping, the European Commission reported on Thursday.
A total of 50% were items that came from China, followed Bosnia-Herzegovina, 10%; Hong Kong, 9%; Cambodia, 8%; Turkey, 7%; and Georgia, 3%.
The volume of detected counterfeits fell by 15% compared to 31 million in 2017, while the number of interceptions at customs increased by 21% due to the large number of small packages that arrived by courier and postal mail.
In total, EU customs made 69,354 interceptions in 2018, of which 84% occurred in shipments that arrived by postal or express mail.
This type of seizure has increased, while those made in maritime and air transport have been reduced to 12% and 2%, respectively.
Germany was the country where the most items were seized, with 4.7 million, a 59% increase, according to the EC data.
Most of the items seized in postal traffic were consumer products ordered through the internet, such as shoes, clothes, bags and watches.
Pierre Moscovici, commissioner for economic and financial Affairs, taxation and customs, said “Customs officers across the EU have seen success in tracking down and seizing counterfeit goods that are often dangerous for consumers.
“Their job is made even more difficult by the rise in small packages entering the EU through online sales.”
The European Anti-Fraud Office had already warned this month that networks that introduce smuggled products into the EU increasingly use online shopping, which allows smaller quantities to move than traditional shipping and making it harder to detect the routes.
Despite the increase in cases related to the internet, maritime traffic remained the largest sector in the number of items, with 54% of counterfeit products arriving in the EU by this route, according to the EC report.
Around 20% were seized in road transport, 15% in postal and express mail and 10% in air transport.
Cigarettes were one of the main counterfeit products to reach the EU, amounting to 15% of the total, followed by toys, 14%, and clothing 9%.
The EC also said that 37% of the total were products for personal use in the home, such as cosmetics, medicines, toys and electrical appliances, which in addition to violating intellectual property rules can be dangerous.
A total of 82% of the counterfeit items seized were destroyed, while the rest were used as part of judicial investigations.