A new report out today reveals that more than six out of ten customs seizures of counterfeit or pirated goods are of small parcels sent through postal or courier services.

The research, carried out by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shows that, although large container shipments account for most counterfeit traffic in terms of volume andvalue, customs authorities are increasingly seizing small parcel shipments ofcounterfeit and pirated goods.

The report shows that these small shipments tend to be in packages of 10 or fewer items and that virtually all industry sectors use small shipments, albeit to different degrees.

Small shipments are particularly usedfor small consumer items. According to the study, of all the seized shipments of counterfeit goods, 84 % contained footwear, 77 % contained fake optical, photographic and medical equipment products (mostly sunglasses) and 63 % contained fake watches, leather articles (like belts), handbags and jewellery, all in small parcel form.

Over half of the global customs seizures of postal parcels contained just one item.

The Executive Director of the EUIPO,Christian Archambeau, said: “Our report tracks a growing, and worrying, phenomenon in counterfeit trade, in that small parcel shipments sent via post or courier services are harder for customs officials to track and seize. We hope that these findings will be of use topolicymakers as they devise methods to combat counterfeiting. This being said, the bulk of counterfeit imports into the EU comes mainly via containers and other maritime shipments. Our earlier joint research with OECD has shown that2.5 % of world trade — equivalent to EUR 338 billion per year and5 % of EU imports — is of counterfeits.”

The report highlights the challenges faced by customs authorities when tackling the problem of fake goods sent in small parcels. Normally, information such as ship manifests and the supporting role of customs brokers are absent in small volume trade. Therefore, data from postal services and express companies could constitute a valuable enforcement resource if they were made available to customs authorities.

The analysis in the report relies on two types of data: information on the trade in counterfeit goods, based on customs data on seizures of counterfeit goods obtained from the World Customs Organization, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and customs Union, and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), and statistics from the Universal Postal Union and from Eurostat, illustrating the international trade in small parcels.