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Counterfeit producers held by Malta Customs almost double in a year

Counterfeit and undeclared products held by the Malta’s Customs rise from 46 to 87 cases in a year

Miriam Dalli
21 July 2017, 10:37am
The 350kg of cocaine packed and sealed inside a Customs bonded store
The 350kg of cocaine packed and sealed inside a Customs bonded store
The number of counterfeit and undeclared articles held by the Maltese Customs rose by 107% in a year, a report published by the European Union has shown.

According to the report on EU customs enforcement of intellectual property, published by the European Union, the number of cases rose from 46 in 2015 to 87 in 2016.

In number of articles, this translates into an increase of over 1.3 million.

According to previous data issued by the Customs Department, contraband goods and prohibited products vary from cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and counterfeit items ranging from clothing to washing powder and hair loss products.

Tax evasion on tobacco and alcohol is considered to be the biggest contributor to the country’s black economy.

2016 also saw Malta’s largest ever narcotics bust, hauling over 300kg of cocaine. The illegal substance was packed in bags inside a container that was transporting canned pineapple from Ecuador to Spain.

Across the European Union, China continues to be the main country of provenance from where goods suspected of infringing an IPR were sent to the EU.

The report also shows that some other countries appear as the main country of provenance, notably Singapore for alcoholic beverages, the Islamic Republic of Iran for clothing accessories, Hong Kong, China for mobile phones and accessories, CD/DVD and accessories and parts for vehicles, and India for medicines.

In the EU, the top categories of detained articles were cigarettes, which accounted for 24% of the overall amount of detained articles followed by toys (17%), foodstuff (13%), packaging material (12%) and other goods (8%).

Compared with 2015, the category packaging material substituted labels, tags and stickers in the top five.

Although detentions in postal traffic went down with 28%, courier traffic and postal traffic together still accounted for 73% of all detentions.

The type of articles detained are mainly consumer articles ordered via e-commerce like shoes, clothing and accessories, although in terms of quantities packaging material, medicines and labels are in the top five.

In terms of number of detained articles, sea traffic is by far the biggest sector and there are strong increases in rail and road traffic.

Which products can threaten consumers’ safety?

Products for daily use and products that would be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers (i.e. suspected trademark infringements concerning food and beverages, body care articles, medicines, electrical household goods and toys) accounted for 34.2% (a significant increase compared to 25.8% in 2015) of the total amount of detained articles.

In 82% of the detention procedures started by customs in the EU member states, the goods were destroyed after the owner of the goods and the right-holder agreed on destruction. In 8% of the detentions a court case was started to determine the infringement or as part of criminal proceedings.

In number of articles, 77% of the articles were destroyed or were subject to proceedings. However, 23% of the articles were released because the right-holder did not react to the notification by customs (8%) or they were eventually found to be original goods (15%).

Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of M...
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