USAIT001_Post_Hero_01a_1366x496 copy

Business giants join initiative to crack down on counterfeits

06/09/21 04:18 PM EDT

BY KARL EVERS-HILLSTROM

Originally posted on
TheHill.com
www.thehill.com

A group of corporations, trade groups and law enforcement agencies launched an initiative this week to educate policymakers and the public about an influx of black market products into the U.S.

United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) says online sales of counterfeit goods increased by 40 percent since January 2020 as smugglers capitalized on the need for masks and medications. The group says this activity hurts the U.S. economy, robs communities of tax revenue and enriches foreign criminal organizations that engage in human and drug trafficking.

“Buying those fake items knowingly really just lines the pockets of these criminal organizations which use the money for much more nefarious purposes,” said Matt Albence, USA-IT spokesperson and former director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “This isn’t a victimless crime.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The initiative is backed by Procter & Gamble, pharmaceutical giants Merck and Sanofi, tobacco company Philip Morris International and trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

“Counterfeit goods entering the supply chain and getting into the hands of consumers is a burden on manufacturers,” said Christopher Netram, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy at NAM. “It’s most acutely felt by the small and medium-sized manufacturers that don’t really have the resources to have a dedicated staffer to monitor and counteract counterfeits.”

The manufacturers’ trade group released a report last year finding that counterfeiting sapped the U.S. economy of $131 billion and 325,500 American jobs in 2019.

USA-IT’s members plan to work with Congress and federal agencies to support measures to increase oversight of e-commerce and international mail. NAM backs a bill from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would require online marketplaces to collect and verify information about third-party sellers. The measure did not make it into the Senate’s China bill passed Tuesday.