Europe

EU presses China over fake goods

Chinese seizure of counterfeit cigarettes - 2005 file pic
Image caption The EU says it is struggling to stem a massive flow of illegal Chinese cigarettes

The EU has urged China to step up the fight against black market exports, saying counterfeit cigarettes alone are depriving the EU of 10bn euros (£8bn) in tax revenue annually.

The EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, Algirdas Semeta, is in Shanghai to discuss customs co-operation with Chinese officials.

He described China as "the main source of counterfeit cigarettes in the EU".

Most fake or pirated goods seized in the EU last year were Chinese.

The European Commission says goods from China accounted for 64% of the seizures. Besides cigarettes, the main items were fake labels, clothing and accessories, shoes, toys and blank CDs and DVDs.

According to Mr Semeta, the 10bn euros in lost revenue from cigarettes "impacts significantly on legitimate business interests".

China is the EU's second biggest trading partner after the US and EU-China trade totalled some 300bn euros last year.

The 27-nation bloc is also the biggest market for Chinese exports, about 20% of which are sent to Europe.

The EU's trade deficit with China last year reached 133bn euros, yet China is the EU's fastest growing export market.

"As world players we also have world responsibilities. This is as true for China as it is for the EU," Mr Semeta said.

He called for "practical results" from an action plan to protect intellectual property, signed with China last year.

The EU also wants to expand a pilot project called Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL), which tests the security of containers in ports and enhances EU-Chinese customs co-operation.

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