US negative list: Absence of major online platforms criticized

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The US government’s new Notorious Markets List primarily focuses on the safety risks of counterfeit products and their consequences. However, the omission of some relevant, large online platforms is once again criticized.

With the Notorious Markets List, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) seeks to highlight marketplaces that allegedly engage in or facilitate significant levels of counterfeiting and/or copyright infringement. In this year’s list, the office identifies a total of 33 physical and 39 online marketplaces; this year, the focus area also deals with the health and safety risks of counterfeit products, says the USTR. As in the previous year, the USTR’s list is once again subject to significant criticism, primarily because some relevant online platforms would be missing.

The current Notorious Markets List again includes several marketplaces and sites that were already listed last year, including several platforms from China. According to the USTR, China is the main source of counterfeits – the USTR reports that counterfeit products from China accounted for around 60% of the total value of counterfeits seized by U.S. Customs in 2022. Accordingly, large online platforms from China are also on the list, such as Pinduoduo and Taobao. In contrast to the previous year, however, the marketplace AliExpress is no longer on the negative list. Both AliExpress and Taobao belong to the Chinese Alibaba Group, which recently announced new measures against counterfeit products.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is nonetheless dissatisfied with the fact that some relevant online platforms are not listed. The AAFA is grateful that the online markets DHGate and Shopee are still on the Notorious Markets List. However, it had also called in particular for the Meta Group to be listed with its important social media platforms, as well as the platforms Lazada and Alibaba Cloud (also part of the Alibaba Group). However, these are not included on the negative list. In general, the AAFA is calling on the US government to take further measures against the spread of counterfeits via the Internet.

//“We call on Congress to ask hard questions of representatives of major e‑commerce and social media platforms when they testify before Congress this week, including why these companies can’t stop the promotion and sale of counterfeits on their platforms. We also call on Congress to swiftly pass the much‑needed SHOP SAFE Act.”

Steve Lamar, President and CEO, AAFA

In particular, there have already been several calls for the social media giant Meta to be added to the Notorious Markets List. The well‑known social networks Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which are part of Meta, have been criticized for their role in the trade in counterfeit products. For example, a study published in 2022 suggested that counterfeiters were successfully using the social networks and e-commerce functions of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to generate annual sales of several billion US dollars.

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