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Belgium ranks 5th worldwide on ports of entry for counterfeit containers

“Belgium is high on the list of destination ports because Antwerp and Zeebrugge are among the major ports in Europe,” Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of the European Observatory on the Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights (EUIPO), told The Brussels Times.

Archambeau, a Belgian national and graduate of the University of Brussels, was appointed Executive Director by the European Union in 2018.

“All types of counterfeit goods are shipped by sea,” he says. “But while fake products in containers account for a relatively low number of global seizures, these products tend to be of high value, such as electronic equipment or leather goods.”

Toys are also high on the list, especially around Christmas time, as well as cosmetics, perfumes, clothing, shoes, and handbags. In the case of cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, a counterfeit product can be particularly dangerous.

With more and more people buying items online, the chances of getting a fake product are increasing, and with Antwerp serving as a top port of entry, the chance that a counterfeit good passes through Belgium is also high.

Less than 2% of the containers that arrive in European ports are physically inspected, making it an ideal method of transport for organised crime.

Last summer, the discovery of a secret “hell-like” prison with a torture chamber made from containers near the Belgian-Dutch border made international news.

“We know from other reports that much of the profit goes to organised crime and is used to support illegal activities including drug and people trafficking,” said Archambeau, adding that this is why it’s vital for law enforcement to “keep up the pressure to prevent this important channel being misused.”

Still, the report says that illicit trade in counterfeit goods hasn’t been a high priority for customs. Shipments of counterfeits are commonly marked as “commercial trade infractions” rather than criminal activity.

Last year Antwerp handled 231 million tonnes of cargo, making it the second-largest port in Europe (after Rotterdam), with the second-largest chemicals cluster in the world (after Houston).

 

Source: Brussels Times

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