Counterfeiting is pervasive across the whole economy. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime describes counterfeiting as a crime which touches “virtually everyone in one way or another” and that counterfeit goods, whether drugs or consumer products pose a serious risk to health and safety”.
The trade in fakes has never been more prolific, mainly because of the exponential rise in counterfeiting activities on the Internet in recent years. It is now a global epidemic, posing major threats to consumers and national economies, and funding organized crime and terrorism.
Counterfeits are the largest contributor to the world’s underground economy possibly outstripping illegal narcotics. The proceeds of these activities not only threaten lives they can provide financial resource to criminal and terrorist networks.
– Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary General OECD
Counterfeited goods include luxury items of course. However almost anything can be copied across markets as diverse as medicines, vehicle tyres, fuels, building materials, aeroplane parts and baby formula. Goods that are meant to protect lives are being copied and threaten lives.
Up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes.
– Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Frontier Economic state in their Feb 2017 report that by 2022, international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods will total $991 billion and that over $1trillion of legitimate economic value will have been displaced.
The monetary costs to consumers through ineffective goods, businesses through lost sales and governments through lost tax are significant.
The damage to human progress through the financial burden on businesses and subsequent suppression of research and development is extremely serious.