EU concerned by surge in imports of counterfeit wares


BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union expressed concern on Monday about a major increase in imports of counterfeit drugs, cosmetics and toys, calling it a threat to public health and the region’s economies.

Last year, customs authorities in the 27 EU nations discovered 51 percent more cases of fake medicines, while seizures of counterfeit toys were up by 98 percent on 2006 levels and counterfeit cosmetic and personal care items up by 264 percent, according to a new EU report.

“Counterfeiting continues to pose a dangerous threat to our health safety and our economy,” said EU Taxation Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.

Overall, Monday’s report said the EU registered 43,000 cases of fake goods seized at the bloc’s borders, up by 17 percent, despite a decline in cases involving counterfeit cigarettes, compact disks and DVDS.

China remained the main source of counterfeit goods, accounting for 60 percent of all articles seized, the EU said in a statement. However, Kovacs said he was encouraged by increased cooperation from the Chinese authorities.

The report also pointed to Turkey and Georgia as major sources of counterfeit cosmetic products. Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates were named as a sources of fake medicines.

In all, customs officials seized 79 million fake articles, a sharp decrease on 2006. Kovacs said that suggested counterfeiters were dealing in smaller shipments to avoid detection.