US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has listed Intellectual Property Rights among its priority trade issues. The White House also highlighted this focus with an October 13th presidential memoranda urging more aggressive enforcement, specifically fines and civil penalties, to stop counterfeit trafficking on e-commerce platforms. Furthermore, in response to a Government Accountability Office report, CBP will be implementing a new policy regarding the enforcement of counterfeit goods in small packages. Under the new policy—set for implementation by January 29, 2021, CBP will issue a Notice of Seizure resulting in the “adjudication of these low-value shipments within 30-days from the date of seizure.”
According to a Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Alert, published October 20, 2020, “On average, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processes more than 420,000 parcels of mail and 180,000 express consignment shipments each day just from China. Through Operation Mega Flex, CBP determined that about 12.5% of targeted parcels contained counterfeit goods or contraband. Operation Mega Flex is a CBP-led, interagency enforcement effort that started in July 2019 to measure compliance and assess illicit networks in the small package environment through enhanced inspections.”
The CTPAT Alert further asserts that counterfeit sales do more harm than revenue and profit loss from the rightful brand owners. Counterfeit trade supports terrorism, money laundering, human trafficking, and other threats to national security and human rights. Mislabeling shipments, using false documents, and stolen identities of legitimate transportation companies—with no history of illegal trafficking—are used to avoid CBP and foreign Customs detection.
CTPAT members and importers should proactively verify and monitor all the players in their supply chain, prioritized by risk. Countries, regions of countries, and newer manufacturers require more rigorous vetting and verification.