Last Friday, the Trump Administration released a report titled Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods aimed at countering the effects of illicit trade activities currently threatening U.S. national and economic security.
Introduced as a memorandum by President Trump in April 2019, the report is a joint effort by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to combat the increasing number of counterfeit products entering the U.S.
In Fiscal Year 2019, CBP along with ICE reported seizing nearly 28,000 shipments of counterfeit goods with a market value of approximately $1.5 billion.
In spite of this, however, CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan describes these seizures as “just a drop in the bucket.”
In an interview on Fox News, Mark Morgan alongside Peter Navarro, President Trump’s assistant for trade, said that much of the illicit trade is facilitated through e-commerce hubs, like Amazon and other such platforms.
This link is further confirmed by both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which link the rise in counterfeit sales in part to the increasing utilization of e-commerce platforms by consumers.
Morgan and Navarro said China, specifically, is one of the top producers of counterfeit products shipped to the United States with CBP reporting over 85 percent of contraband seizures between 2000 and 2018 arriving from China and Hong Kong.
“Ten percent of the stuff coming in from China has something wrong with it. So, if you’re getting a million packages a day from China, that’s 100,000 Americans being affected every day by this counterfeit and contraband flood,” Navarro said of the matter.
Counterfeit seizures include a wide variety of products, including everything from designer apparel and accessories to pharmaceuticals, computers, and technology accessories.
According to CBP, apparel and accessories accounted for 18 percent of total seizures in Fiscal Year 2018 followed by footwear at 14 percent and watches/jewelry at 13 percent.
From a national security perspective, criminal organizations are also exploiting these activities by lacing products with fentanyl and other illicit substances.
Additionally, counterfeit products pose a threat to public health and safety as items like cosmetics could be composed of deadly ingredients like arsenic, mercury, and other such materials.
“The American people need to understand that the exploitation of counterfeit goods endangers our economic prosperity. It also threatens the health and safety of American consumers as well as our national security,” Morgan says.
While the report creates an action plan for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies to combat the risks posed by the exploitation of e-commerce and the growing number of counterfeit seizures, the report also issues guidance about best practices for private sector providers moving forward.
Some of these practices include:
- enhanced vetting of third-party sellers;
- clear transactions through banks that comply with U.S. requests;
- the establishment of marketplace seller IDs;
- clearly identifiable country of origin disclosures.
For consumers, officials at DHS recommend using verified, legitimate sites when shopping online and knowing where purchased products are being shipped and manufactured.
If consumers know where products are manufactured, they can verify this information on the manufacturer’s website.
- Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods
- Department of Homeland Security
- Fox News
- Hong Kong
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Mark Morgan
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
- Peter Navarro
- President Trump
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Government Accountability Office
Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.