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EU countries lose €15 billion in tax revenues to counterfeiting, says new report

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This March 12, 2020, photo released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shows a package containing suspected counterfeit COVID-19 test kits arriving from UK.
This March 12, 2020, photo released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shows a package containing suspected counterfeit COVID-19 test kits arriving from UK.   -   Copyright  U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP
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European member states lose out on €15 billion of tax revenues annually because of counterfeiting, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) said on Wednesday.

The 11 sectors most directly impacted by counterfeiting are estimated by have lost more than €83 billion in sales between 2013 and 2017, EUIPO said in its latest report.

In addition, more than 670,000 legitimate jobs were lost while governments missed out on €15 billion in tax revenue per year.

"As serious as these economic damages are, the harm caused to public health, consumer safety and the environment as a result of counterfeit goods is arguably an even more serious consequence," the EUIPO report states.

The European body noted for instance that an increasing array of medicines including cancer therapies or heart disease medications are being counterfeited "with potentially deadly consequences".

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to counterfeiters producing fake testing kits, sub-standard personal protection equipment and fake medicines purported to cure the disease.

But other counterfeit products such as toys, clothing, electrical equipment and common consumer goods are also dangerous because of the possible exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxins "that could cause acute or long-term harm to health, choking, electric shock, fire and various types of injuries".

"Some types of counterfeits, such as fake pesticides, can cause harm to both the farmers applying them to their crops and to the consumers who consume the resulting produce," it added.

Another report from the EUIPO produced with Europol, the bloc's agency for law enforcement cooperation, also highlighted links between intellectual property crimes and other serious crimes including money laundering, document fraud, cybercrime, drug production and trafficking and terrorism.