Entrepreneurs: US 'notorious markets list' unfair

Updated: 2011-12-24 13:50


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HANGZHOU - Chinese entrepreneurs said a recent US report identifying some of China's marketplaces as "notorious markets" for dealing in pirated and counterfeit goods and services is unfair.

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said in its report on Tuesday that four of the 15 listed physical markets known for pirated goods and services are located in China, including the famous China Small Commodities Market in the city of Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang Province and the Silk Market in Beijing.

More than 1.7 million kinds of small commodities, mostly consumer goods, are sold around the world each year from the Yiwu Small Commodities Market, which the report described as a center for the wholesaling of pirated goods and the market of origin for many counterfeit goods.

"Some of the commodities on the market are low-end ones, but it does not mean that they are pirated goods," said Chen Jinlin, general secretary of Yiwu's Christmas Goods Industry Association.

As Christmas Day approaches, Yiwu's Christmas Goods Industry Association has seen a surge in orders from Western countries, Chen said.

Many companies in the Yiwu Small Commodities Market, especially some large enterprises, have their own brands, like the Yiwu-based Langsha Group, the country's largest producer of socks and stockings.

"The notorious markets list neglected the efforts of Chinese companies," said Weng Rongdi, Chairman of Langsha Group.

About 85 percent of Langsha's products are targeted at Western markets. Some major clients from the United States, Italy and Taiwan have conducted tours of the Langsha Group during the past two months.

"If we manufactured counterfeit goods, I am sure the foreign clients would not have come," Weng said.

Some online markets and websites were also included on the list. China's e-commerce giant Taobao was reported to have engaged in piracy and counterfeiting, and two Chinese music websites, Sogou MP3 and Gougou, were cited for providing services deeply linked to music copyright violations.

"I will admit that some of the websites provide rights-infringing products or services," said Fang Xingdong, board chairman of the Beijing-based IT think tank Chinalabs.com.

"But it is unfair to label these websites 'notorious markets' since other online stores registered on the websites will be affected by the list," Fang said.

China has made great efforts to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting in recent years.

Statistics from Taobao show that the company had addressed a total of 62 million items of information regarding trade in rights-infringing goods during the first 11 months of this year, and 570,000 of its members have been punished.

Some US brands have already shown their confidence in China's markets. Nike, Benefit, and Coach have all opened online stores on Tmall.com, the business-to-consumer (B2C) website owned by Taobao.

"We noticed that Taobao had launched a variety of strict inspections on counterfeit goods in recent years, and both product and service qualities from Taobao have been improved," said Hu Weixiong, brand general manager of Benefit's China branch.

Meanwhile, Baidu, China's largest search engine, has been removed from the notorious markets list after having been included on the list for several years, showing that the USTR has approved of Baidu's efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting.

"The notorious markets list serves as a kind of warning for Chinese companies," said Huang Xianhai, an economics professor at Zhejiang University. "But the problem only involves a few companies among the listed markets."

It is unfair to negate the entire market, and it is not a cure-all for regulating the international market, Huang said.