China is taking the right steps to prevent intellectual property
rights (IPR) violations, though it needs more time to achieve
This is what European Union (EU) Tax and Customs Commissioner
Laszlo Kovacs said in Beijing yesterday.
It's true that 80 percent of the counterfeit goods seized on EU
borders in 2006 came from China. And it's true too that IPR
protection is a major issue for EU businesses.
But Kovacs said the Chinese government is taking proper
legislative steps to stem the flow of counterfeits both at home and
"We have already witnessed a decrease (in counterfeit goods from
China)," he said. "I do hope that not in the long but in the medium
term there will be some progress so that the proportion from China
will decrease (further).
"In 2006 and 2007 several persons were taken to court in China,
who were manufacturers of counterfeit articles and landowners who
operated markets where counterfeit goods were sold. So that shows
China takes it (the problem) seriously."
China has made welcome progress in setting up an IPR protection
mechanism, he said. There have been visible improvements in
enforcement, and the Chinese Customs legislation is now quite
similar to that of the EU.
Kovacs, however, said the country still needs to take some extra
steps such as establishing stronger administrative cooperation
between the Customs in the EU and China.
That would lead to better enforcement of laws. Also, it would be
a visible sign at the EU's willingness of the political level to
support China's efforts in this field.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD), pirated consumer products account for $200
billion a year, equivalent to 2 percent of the world's total
Counterfeiting is an alarming and threatening phenomenon that
gives rise to new trends, he said. Its compositions are changing,
encompassing more products, from pharmaceuticals to toys.
Counterfeits and pirated products are a violation of IPR,
causing losses of revenue, he said. Therefore, it has become a dual
Businesspersons hope to have smooth procedures to raise their
competitiveness, while people want a tighter security and control
over counterfeits to avoid safety and health hazards.
The challenge is to overcome these obstacles and establish rapid
and smooth control, which requires cooperation and larger and
Kovacs' meeting with Mu Xinsheng, minister of the General
Administration of Customs, yesterday was aimed exactly at solving
They agreed to develop the concrete action plan on IPR that
began three months ago, which includes a partnership between the
private sectors in China and the EU.
Given that the action has just begun, it is too early to assess
whether trade facilitation and security have increased, Kovacs
Discussions at high political levels, however, are needed for
in-depth dialogue with Chinese authorities and to ensure that
operational success can be achieved, he said.
"We've agreed, on the level of intention, to widen the scope of
the project, for instance, to involve the port of HK, and more
Kovacs said the project could be strengthened if it is expanded
to cover mutual recognition of security standards and controls.
The pilot action plan began in December 2006, with the launch of
secure and smart trade lanes.
Last November, the Customs of the UK, the Netherlands and China
for the first time exchanged electronic information on sea
containers leaving their territory through the ports of Rotterdam,
Felixstowe and Shenzhen. The South China city is part of Kovacs'
itinerary during this trip.
The purpose of the action plan is to better target counterfeit
* Exchanging pre-arrival/departure data on containers loaded on
vessels leaving their territory among Customs;
* Using electronic seals on containers to ensure a secure
end-to-end supply chain;
* Applying minimum control standards on containers and
communicating the control results electronically;
* Defining common risk indicators to help select "high risk"
containers for controls;
* Reducing overall controls on imports through recognition of
controls on exports, thereby ensuring that any remaining import
controls focus on particularly high-risk items.
The US, too, has expressed displeasure with China over
counterfeits. But Kovacs said China and the EU agree on a point to
differ with the US: a law requiring foreign ports to scan every sea
container headed to the US.
Such a law would be costly to implement, generate a false sense
of security and cause huge trade problems if it takes effect from
2012, as scheduled, he said.
(China Daily January 29, 2008)