Trade Groups Demand Alibaba Be Placed On USTR’s Piracy List


For Alibaba, the fake goods problem is just not leaving. Now trade groups have come together and appealed to the U.S. Trade Representative on Wednesday to put the Chinese firm back on the list of the global marketplace for fake and pirated goods, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Trade groups unite against fake goods

Trade Groups such as the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Travel Goods Association wrote a letter to the USTR stating that there is an “enormous amount of counterfeits” on Alibaba’s sites, especially its flea market-like Taobao shopping platform. The letter read that at any given moment, customers around the world can select from hundreds of thousands of counterfeit clothes, shoes, travel goods, handbags, toys, auto parts, jewelry, watches, furniture, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and various other articles.

Apart from the 18 trading groups uniting to appeal to the USTR, associations like the American Apparel & Footwear Association and France’s Unifab have taken individual stances saying that the Chinese firm should do more to halt sales of fakes on its platforms.

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Rick Helfenbein, chief executive of AAFA said, “This is the largest collection of organizations that have been willing to stand up and say, enough is enough,” with counterfeit good sales.

He went on to say that the e-commerce giant has had various opportunities to make things right, adding that it is high time for it to do something to improve its image and that it lacks the efforts to put a stop to counterfeit sales. About 1,000 brands, including Abercrombie and Fitch, Calvin Klein, American Apparel, and Kate Spade, are part of AAFA. In 2012, the USTR unchecked the Alibaba’s Taobao platform from the list of offending marketplaces citing improvements, notes the WSJ.

Alibaba calls charges vague

In response, China’s largest online marketplace said the charges leveled against it are vague, non-fact-based and fail to recognize its efforts to contain the counterfeit goods issue. The company said it is regularly collaborating with brands, associations and regulators to maintain the integrity of the marketplace. The company added that its recent submission to the USTR describes the steadfast efforts to tackle counterfeiters online.

Alibaba also faced heat last year when the Chinese State Administration for Industry & Commerce issued a report saying that only a third of the products on Taobao platform were “genuine.”

Alibaba is working in full force ahead of its largest online shopping day on November 11, the Chinese counterpart of Cyber Monday in the United States. The Chinese firm has one of the biggest e-commerce shopping platforms in the world with merchandise volume of more than $485 billion in the fiscal year ended March 2016.

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