The shadowy trade in counterfeit goods has a footprint that reaches from the expanse of the Chinese mainland to ports in the U.S. with everything from replica luxury fashion products and copycat automobiles to fake cigarettes and pharmaceuticals making their way into the consumer marketplace. Of the $1.2-plus trillion global counterfeit industry (a figure that is expected to grow to $1.82 trillion by 2020), the market for counterfeit clothing, textiles, footwear, handbags, cosmetics, and watches, alone, amounted to a whopping $450 billion, and growing.
Based on figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), the fashion industry is routinely the hardest hit by the trade in counterfeit goods. According to the CBP’s review of the 2017 fiscal year, which was still being updated as recently as last month, “Apparel and Accessories” topped the list of products seized in terms of volume, accounting for 15 percent of seizures for the year with 5,223 seizures, followed by Watches and Jewelry (13 percent, 4297 seizures), Footwear (12 percent, 4,224), Consumer Electronics (12 percent, 4137), and Handbags and Wallets (10 percent, 3,266).
In terms of MSRP (i.e., what the seized products would have been worth if they were authentic and sold at retail), Watches and Jewelry are at the top of the list with the MSRP of the CBP’s seizures amounting to more than $460 million (down from $653 million for FY2016), followed by Handbags and Wallets with a total MSRP of more than $234 million, almost exactly the same as FY2016.
The vast majority of the seized counterfeit goods came from China and Hong Kong, as well as from India, Singapore, and Turkey.
CBP has not yet released stats for FY2018.