• Graphic: Counterfeit market is worth more than Ireland’s economy

Shoes, clothing, bags, electronics: While it is illegal to trade in items that violate international intellectual property laws, the market for them has been very active in recent years. According to data from the Global Trade in Fakes report by the OECD and the EUIPO, the trade in counterfeit goods amounted to approximately $449 billion in 2019. As our graph shows comparing this amount with the 2019 GDP figures of countries and regions OECD countries, selling fake sneakers, watches and clothing is as lucrative as running a mid-sized European country.

For example, Ireland’s economy generated approximately $431 billion according to OECD data, while Portugal ranked seventh among the organization’s member states with $372 billion. Interestingly, the size of the counterfeit goods trade market is also roughly in the same ballpark as Hong Kong’s GDP of $466 billion, which is responsible for around 20 percent of the value of items seized between 2017 and 2019. .

In that period, the former and China combined for almost 80 percent of the volume and about 90 percent of the value of the counterfeit trade. Turkey, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates ranked third, fourth and fifth in terms of value, respectively, while Turkey stood out for its contribution of approximately 10 per cent to the total volume of assets seized. The report’s authors go on to point out that this does not necessarily mean that the counterfeits originated from these economies, but rather that these states could also have served as a transit point for such items.

According to the publication, trade in counterfeit or pirated products accounted for 2.5 percent of global trade and about six percent of imports to the European Union in 2019. Although the report does not give hard figures, the global pandemic has also affected to this specific market, with border closures and limited production capacities leading to a greater influx of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and sanitizers.

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