Cheaters never prosper, the old saying goes, but the growth in counterfeit goods might suggest otherwise. Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has grown from $250 billion annually in 2008 to $461 billion in 2013, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organization that promotes economic development. Fake goods make up more than 2.5 percent of all world trade.

Other findings:

  • Up to 5 percent of goods imported into the European Union are fakes.
  • U.S., Italian, and French brands are the hardest hit.
  • In many cases, proceeds of counterfeit trade go to organized crime.
  • Most fake goods originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.
  • Postal parcels are the top method of shipping bogus goods, accounting for 62 percent of seizures from 2011-2013.

Aside from the obvious problems — infringement of trademarks, design rights, and patents, plus the drain on the global economy — the booming counterfeit goods business also presents challenges for postal operators worldwide. An increasing share of counterfeit goods, which can be sold easily online, are moving as small shipments through the mail. The overall growth in ecommerce, decreased shipping charges, and the low risk of having small shipments of counterfeit goods seized make shipping by mail and express services attractive, the report said.

Posts already face operational challenges processing and moving a huge number of small packets, and shipments of counterfeit goods just add to the load. “For traffickers, small shipments are also a way to avoid detection and minimize the risk of sanctions. This, in turn, raises the costs of checks and detention for customs and presents additional challenges to enforcement authorities,” the report noted.

Are there ways posts could adapt some of their existing technologies to better secure the supply chain? What can postal operators and other government agencies do to curb the flow of counterfeit goods?

Comments (1)

The most direct way to report fraud, waste, misconduct within the Postal Service is via our Hotline form

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  • anon

    This is a good blog idea because it is easy to understand or identify with counterfeiting (be it goods, inventory, or currency). What scares me is functioning in commerce where literally everything we do online can be hacked or stolen. Cyber security is becoming a much broader frame of reference than just thinking about having antivirus installed on our device and trusting the supplier to neutralize bad actors.

    Jun 13, 2016

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