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OECD warns of growing global trade in counterfeit, pirated goods

Trade in counterfeit goods has risen steadily in recent years despite a slowdown in overall global trade growth, threatening innovation and economic expansion, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned in a new report.

The OECD report said the volume of international trade in counterfeited and pirated products increased to $509 billion in 2016, or 3.3% of global trade, from $461 billion, or 2.5% of world trade, in 2013.

In the European Union, up to €121 billion worth of non-EU imports in 2016 were fake goods, representing 6.8% of the bloc's imports from non-EU countries, up from 5% in 2013, according to the report.

"Counterfeit trade takes away revenues from firms and governments and [feeds] other criminal activities. It can also jeopardize consumers' health and safety," OECD public governance director Marcos Bonturi said.

Countries that are most affected by counterfeiting and piracy are OECD members such as the U.S., France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea and the U.K. However, non-OECD members with high-income or emerging economies have also become targets, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brazil.

"Counterfeiting and piracy pose a major threat to innovation and economic growth, at both EU and global level," said Christian Archambeau, executive director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which co-released the report.

Archambeau said the trend is "deeply concerning" and "clearly calls for coordinated action, at all levels, to be fully tackled."

Mainland China and Hong Kong remain the biggest origins of counterfeited and pirated products, the report said, although the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand and India are also among the major sources of fake goods.

According to the report, the biggest shares of seized counterfeit goods in 2016 belonged to footwear, clothing, leather goods, electrical equipment, watches, medical equipment, perfumes, toys, jewelry and pharmaceuticals.