By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China leads the world in counterfeit and pirated products, the office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai said in a report on Tuesday which identified WeChat, China’s most popular chat app, as “one of the largest platforms for counterfeit goods.”
“Counterfeit and pirated goods from China, together with transshipped goods from China to Hong Kong, accounted for 75% of the value of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2021,” the U.S. government’s latest report on “notorious markets” added.
The U.S. government identified 39 online markets and 33 physical markets that reportedly engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy.
“This includes continuing to identify the WeChat e-commerce ecosystem as one of the largest platforms for counterfeit goods in China,” it added.
WeChat is China’s most popular chat app with more than a billion active users and is owned by Chinese technology firm Tencent Holdings Limited.
The report alleged WeChat provided an e-commerce ecosystem that facilitated the distribution and sale of counterfeit products to users of the overall WeChat platform.
China-based online markets AliExpress, Baidu Wangpan, DHGate, Pinduoduo and Taobao also remain part of the notorious markets list, along with seven physical markets in China “that increasingly use brick-and-mortar storefronts to support online sales of counterfeits,” the USTR office said on Tuesday.
The U.S. government added e-commerce sites operated by Tencent and Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to its notorious markets list in early 2022.
“The Notorious Markets List is an important tool that urges the private sector and our trading partners to take action against these harmful practices,” Tai said on Tuesday.
The Chinese government said at the time it did not agree with the U.S. government’s decision to include some e-commerce sites in the list, calling the action “irresponsible.”
Tencent also said at the time it strongly disagreed with the decision and Alibaba had said it will continue working with government agencies to address concerns about intellectual property protection across its platforms.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Josie Kao)