European Union and China to boost cooperation in custom controls and tackling counterfeit goods

Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs Union, Anti-Fraud and Audit, will open tomorrow an international conference at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on building bridges to facilitate trade between China and the EU. The aim of the conference is to explore ways to enhance further customs cooperation between the EU and China, in order to allow a smooth trade flow between both sides while providing citizens with a high level of protection. Securing the supply chain, tackling smuggling (particularly of cigarettes) and protecting intellectual property rights will be high on the agenda. China is the EU’s second trading partner after the USA and its biggest source of imports. The EU is China’s largest export market. Both the EU and China therefore have a real interest in ensuring that safe, genuine and legal products can easily enter each other’s markets. Commissioner Šemeta will spend 3 days in China, discussing key issues related to customs and anti-fraud measures with national authorities and business representatives, and will visit the port of Shanghai to see first-hand how Chinese customs controls operate.

Closer cooperation between US and EU needed?

In 2007 EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stated at a EU-US summit that “The reality is that the world is safer and more prosperous when Europe and America work together as global partners”.

The large number of unsafe and counterfeit products flooding to our markets, and recalls like we had with Mattel and Fisher Price products have caused outrage with consumers in North America and Europe. Many politicians have called for immediate action. In the European Parliament there were even voices that called for the CE marking system to be reversed.

EU crackdown on websites selling consumer electronic goods

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today announced the results of an EU-wide investigation – involving 26 Member States and Norway and Iceland – into misleading advertising and unfair practices on websites selling consumer electronic goods. The clampdown covered 369 websites selling six of the most popular electronic goods to consumers in the EU – digital cameras, mobile phones, personal music players, DVD players, computer equipment and game consoles. It covered 200 of the biggest websites selling electronic equipment in the EU as well as more than 100 websites which were targeted on the basis of consumer complaints. The results of the checks carried out in May this year show that 55% of the websites investigated showed irregularities in particular relating to: misleading information about consumer rights; misleading information about the total cost of the product; or incomplete contact details for the trader. The initial checks by national authorities will now be followed by an enforcement phase when companies are contacted by national authorities and required to correct their websites or clarify their position. At this first stage, three countries – Iceland, Latvia and Norway – have published names of the websites covered by the investigation.

German authorities raid at high tech fair

With an impressive force of 220 inspectors, German custom authorities raided several companies in the Berlin on Saturday, seizing flat-screen televisions and other electronics from stands at IFA, the world’s largest consumer electronics fair.

A German court had ruled late on Thursday that several east Asian and European firms were marketing unlicensed patented technology at IFA and authorized 69 raids, a spokesman for Berlin’s customs investigation office said. Hyandai IT Corp was among the raided companies. Uniformed customs police could be witnessed removing Hyundai’s flat-screen televisions in front of the public and trade visitors, leaving an empty stand with wires hanging from it. According to the spokesperson around 170 televisions, 140 MP3 music players, 21 mobile phones and 57 DVD recorders had been seized at IFA so far.

The theft of trade secrets by foreign companies is a sensitive topic in Germany, where the economy depends on a research-intensive export sector.

Similar but smaller raids have taken place at other German technology fairs such as Hanover’s Cebit in recent years.