China, France join forces against counterfeiters

13th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

HONG KONG, March 12, 2006 (AFP) - A joint agreement between France and China to work closer to beat counterfeiters has been hailed as the first step in an effort to end the multi-billion dollar illegal trade.

HONG KONG, March 12, 2006 (AFP) - A joint agreement between France and China to work closer to beat counterfeiters has been hailed as the first step in an effort to end the multi-billion dollar illegal trade.

French budget minister and government spokesman Jean-François Copé signed the agreement, the first of its kind between the two trading partners, in Beijing last week.

It will see greater exchange of intelligence between the two customs authorities in a bid to end the flow of pirated French luxury items, such as designer clothes and wine, from China.

Copé said the timing of the deal was significant as it signalled China's emergence as a responsible player on the world trading stage.

"The reason why China decided that now was a good time to sign such a deal is because it is acutely conscious of the dangers counterfeiting poses to its own economy," Copé told AFP in an interview during a two-day stop-off in Hong Kong.

"It is now producing its own patents and because of that it needs to protect its own intellectual property rights," he added.

China, the world's leading producer of legitimate manufactured goods, is also a main source of counterfeits.

Copé said it was impossible to estimate the size of the problem but believed some 30,000 French jobs had been lost as a result of intellectual property rights infringement.

He said almost two thirds of the six million fake items seized at French ports in 2005 had originated in the Asia Pacific region.

"It is a huge problem for France and for all of Europe," Copé said.

At the top of the list of most widely copied items were French luxury goods and wine, two of the pillars of French exports.

But Copé said there was growing concern that other items were being copied with potentially dangerous consequences.

"More and more children's toys are being copied, which is a concern because these items are not subject to the safeguards we require for children's items," he said.

For similar reasons he said he was concerned about the counterfeiting of drugs and other medicines.

"These are operations that are run by mafia and criminals — these are not the kind of people you want to be dealing with," he said.

Noting that Hong Kong was an important transit point for huge numbers of faked goods from China, Copé said he had also proposed a similar agreement with the former British colony's trade minister Joseph Wong.

"The proposal is on the table," he said.

Copé concedes that the counterfeiting problem is endemic in China and admits the agreement signed last week will not come close to ending it.

But he says it is a tentative step in the right direction and coincides with what he feels is the emergence of a legislative intent within China to begin tackling the problem.

"There is a very long tradition of counterfeiting in China and we are conscious that we are not going to change things in the next month or next year," he said.

"But this agreement is a sign that China and France — and the rest of Europe — is working together more closely on this problem," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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